A serendipitous connection ...

An interview with Chef Andrew Hroza of Goose Island Brewpub.Every couple of months, the management of Chicago Now has a get-together for the bloggers – a blogger gathering called a “Blathering” – which seeks to (and, I think, largely succeeds) create a sense of community among what is now several hundred widely disparate bloggers. The most recent of these happened a couple of weeks back at the Goose Island Brewery up on Clybourn.

http://instagram.com/p/cxc-5cs6PM/#I must admit, I was not at my “networking best” that night … unlike at the various social media and tech events I regularly attend, the room was not heavily seeded with people I know well, and the dozen or so Chicago Now folks that I’ve come to know over the past several years did not seem to be around that night … so I spent a lot of time “wallflowering” and shooting Instagrams. One image I posted was of a graphic covering a wall above the stairs between the two areas we were using. The lighting on that’s not ideal (I was going to shoot a new “daylight” image when we were there taping, but forgot to), but it’s about how Goose Island “supports local growers”. If you click through to the original Instagram upload, you can see that my first thought for this was “there may be a Green Tech Chicago post in there somewhere” … and here it is!

It took a while to get to the right people there to do an interview (you can imagine the phone call: “I was at a party, and saw a poster, and want to talk to somebody …”), but eventually got into the hands of their marketing folks, who set things up with their Chef, who coordinates that project.

Working with the local “pop-up farming” scene, MY idea of “local” was a bit different than the restaurant industry’s definition for local – which, as you can see in that pic, includes four states. Chef Andrew Hroza also noted that Goose Island works closely with area farmers markets (their Head Brewer, Nick Barron, actually does a very limited edition series of beers, one a week from May through October, which feature elements of specialty produce – usually fruits – sourced from these) as well as Lincoln Park’s Green City Market. Here’s our chat with the Chef:

As Hroza notes, working with local growers is a two-way street, as they supply brewery waste to a number of farmers, as well as using some of the spent grain in their own Malted Sea Salt Wort Bread. Some of the regional suppliers that they work with are:

  • River Valley Ranch, Slades Corner WI
  • Seedling Orchard, South Haven, MI
  • Slagel Family Farms, Fairbury, IL
  • Gunthrop Farms, Lagrange, IN
  • Pastures Pride Cheese, Cashton, WI

On our way back to the North & Clybourn El stop, Ed was looking at some of the still-vacant lots that have escaped the gentrification of the past couple of decades along Clybourn, and was wondering how Hroza would like some extremely local produce – if some of these could be converted over to pop-up farms ala Ken Dunn’s City Farm down the road at Division. Maybe in a few years, restaurants like the Goose Island Brewpub will just have to go across the street to get their specialty produce, as more urban farms get established around the city!

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