Gertrude's Sustainability Rooted in Local Sourcing
We sat down with Michelle Jacob, General Manager of Gertrude’s Restaurant at the Desert Botanical Gardens, for an inspiring Q & A about their recent Devour Excellence in Sustainability Award and how sourcing locally is ingrained in everything they do.
(Psst, they’re also the perfect spot for Mother’s Day!)
How does it feel to be recognized for Excellence in Sustainability?
Unbelievable, this completely caught me off guard. We are so honored that we are being recognized for habits that we think are just proper practices. We compost, make sure our packaging is recyclable and compostable (including straws), source locally as often as possible, and then we buy back our compost to bring everything full circle. We source as local as possible and keep items as fresh as possible. We work with such awesome farmers.
Why is it important to the restaurant to buy from local farmers?
When you buy on a larger scale from purveyors in order to sell wholesale items it’s not handled in an earth conscious and diet conscious way. As we began looking for farmers whose practices and principles aligned with our own, one farmer would lead to another. “This person does this”, etc. They all go hand in hand. Once people know what you are looking for as a restaurant, they help you find diamond in the rough. For example, Carl Seacat (of Seacat Gardens) is known in the valley for some of his signature items like Cherokee tomatoes. Now he brings us edible flowers, our salad greens, radishes, many varieties of tomatoes, and lobster mushrooms.
Which Arizona farms and food producers do you work with?
We work with Seacat Garden, Blue Sky Organic Farms, Crow’s Dairy, Mama Lola’s Tortillas, Mediterra Bakehouse, Noble Bread, Queen Creek Olive Mill, Hayden Flour Mills, Ramona Farms, Hickman’s Family Farms, and Schreiner’s Fine Sausage. And I’m sure I’m missing someone on that list.
Have you heard feedback from your customers?
We try to offer things that people are asking for. These days they are definitely asking for local, so our servers are required to know our local items. They are looking for the Arizona experience when they dine here. It’s so great to see such a huge push for supporting local. Local food is becoming more of a mainstream request.
What can a guest expect when they come to Gertrude’s?
With the exception of a few products which are not available in Arizona, the bulk is from in state and 90% of the menu fits sustainable practices. It would be easy for someone to come in, work through menu, and find the most unique dish that just tastes like Arizona. Even better, most of our beer, wine, and spirits are local too!