Partnering with Purveyors
Debra Rocker of Rocker Bros. Meat & Purveyors shared the ins and outs of sourcing with students at our Los Angeles campus.
There’s no one chefs rely on more than cooks in their kitchens and purveyors. The right purveyor can be a chef’s true partner, and Rocker Bros. Meat & Provisions saleswoman Debra Rocker, whose family has been in the wholesale meat business for more than 50 years, knows how to cultivate and maintain that partnership.
Here are her top tips on finding and working with the best purveyors for your restaurant.
How do you view the chef-purveyor relationship?
Most importantly, meat vendors are the chef’s pipeline to one of their most expensive menu items. Meat is often one or several main course and center-of-the-plate offerings as well as an important ingredient in so many recipes. Meat quality is known to be an important consideration by patrons when deciding where to eat.
What is the key component for that relationship?
There are so many meat options and so many ongoing changes in the meat industry. Chefs must trust their meat man (I use that term for men and women) and stay informed and inquisitive so that they do the research and due diligence for themselves and for their kitchen staff. It is imperative to make informed decisions about what to use in the kitchen, what are positive marketable aspects, what social and environmental considerations are important to fulfill and ultimately, what to put on their menus.
What is the difference between a good purveyor and a bad one?
A good purveyor is just a good and honest person. A great purveyor is a good and honest person who is excited about their field and full of knowledge that can be passed along to chefs.
How do you go about finding a good purveyor?
First and foremost, find someone you trust. If cutting edge work is what you want to do, find someone who feels the same about what they do, so you can work together in finding best options, new offerings and ways to make exactly what you want on your menu work on your menu. That’s it. Find somebody you want to work with and stick with it.
With regards to sourcing, what is the most important advice for young chefs?
Work closely with the experts. Ask a lot of questions. Visit the source when possible.
Learn more about food sourcing in Restaurant & Culinary Management.