During Local Flavors Week customers can find a seasonal meal featuring ingredients from Central Illinois farmers at their favorite hometown restaurants. Local Flavors Week, a program of Illinois Stewardship Alliance, fosters connections between local chefs and farmers and gives residents of rural central Illinois communities an opportunity to experience the true flavors of Central Illinois.
Local Flavors Week events take place the third week of September at various restaurants across Central Illinois. Chefs from participating restaurants create a “Local Flavors Special” featuring almost entirely seasonal produce and proteins sourced directly from central Illinois farmers and offer this special for the entire week. Customers can stop by any participating restaurant on their scheduled week during their regular business hours to order the “Local Flavors Special.”
This year, participating restaurants include Lonzerotti’s Italia Restaurant of Jacksonville, Illinois, and Eastwood Golf Course & Restaurant of Streator, Illinois.
As their Local Flavors Special, Lonzerotti’s will be offering:
Pan-seared beefalo, combined with steamed potatoes, garlic, and simmered onions,
wrapped in hand-stretched dough, boiled, then finished in browned butter and served with sour cream and green onions. Wine Pairing: Dry red blend, ‘Rouge’ 2013, from Danenberger Family Vineyards, New Berlin IL
Gross Farms, Jacksonville, IL, beefalo
Cindy’s Country Fresh Eggs, Virginia IL, eggs
Gregory’s Orchard and Gardens, Jacksonville, IL, potatoes
Kevin & Nancy Brodie, Jacksonville IL, onions
Mueller Family Farm, Bluffs, IL, green onions
Down Home Gardens, Virginia IL, garlic
Danenberger Family Vineyard, New Berlin, IL, wine
As their Local Flavors Special, Eastwood will be offering:
Bone-in grilled chicken from Cedar Valley Farm in Ottawa, IL, topped with honey glaze and grilled pumpkin seeds. Served with sweet potatoes, acorn squash, spaghetti squash, butternut squash, and pumpkin purée, and sprinkled with sage and parsley. Vegetables and Honey from Riverview Farms, Streator, IL.
Cedar Valley Farm, Ottawa, IL, chicken
Riverview Farms, Streator, IL, honey, sweet potatoes, squash, and herbs
The Local Flavors Week series is organized by Illinois Stewardship Alliance in partnership with local restaurants. These events are designed to provide small farmers with an opportunity to increase sales locally, give restaurants an opportunity to make connections with local farmers, and give central Illinois residents the opportunity to experience the true flavors of Illinois while also supporting local businesses and locally-grown products.
According the Illinois Food, Farms, and Jobs Council, over the last 50 years the decline of rural towns and villages parallels the decline of the farmers’ share of the dollar that consumers spend on food from over 40 percent to less than 20 percent. Restaurants and residents that buy direct from local farmers in place of distributors or chain stores return 100 percent of the dollar back to local farmers and re-invest in their local economy.
“Local Flavors Week challenged us to plan ahead and figure out what would be in season, and what we could serve using almost entirely local farm products” says Susan Whitney of Lonzerotti’s Italia Restaurant. “ We purchased most of our ingredients through the Jacksonville Farmer’s Market. It was a pleasure to meet so many farmers who helped us in this venture, either by providing our products, or, if they were not able to supply us this time, by helping us find someone who could. Lonzerotti’s is pleased to be able to participate in this way to promote the cause of eating local for health, our local economy, and for the environment. We hope to build on this experience and do more in the future.”
David Gregory of Gregory’s Orchard & Gardens adds, “We are so happy to be able to participate in Local Flavors Week with one of Jacksonville’s favorite restaurants. Restaurants sales are important to many small farm operations and we would love to be able to provide more fresh produce to more local restaurants.”
Local Flavors Week is a spin-off of the popular Local Flavors Series that has taken place in larger communities in central Illinois for the past 10 years, including Bloomington-Normal, Springfield, Champaign-Urbana, and Peoria. This new series aims to reach more restaurants and smaller communities with the “buy local” message.
“Through Local Flavors Week we really want to foster connections between local farmers and local restaurants in central Illinois,” says Molly Gleason, Communications Director at Illinois Stewardship Alliance. “Larger communities like Springfield and Bloomington have already started to catch on to the local food trend, but it’s the smaller communities that stand to gain the most from buying locally. When a person goes to a restaurant and can see that the lettuce came from their neighbor down the way or the hamburger came from the farmer that they go to church with, it makes a real impact. They know that they’re purchasing a meal that directly puts money back in their community.”