Seriously Organic is a new foraging company that specializes in hard-to-find specialty produce. Partners Juan Rochaix and Elke Zabinski distribute toGigi
,the River Oyster Bar
, among other local restaurants. They've been quietly preparing, but they plan to go full speed ahead when the Florida harvest season begins in November.
The mission is to try to get as much local produce to local restaurants, but Rochaix says they will also be practical. They will sell the best they can get, including tomatoes, organic shiitake mushrooms, organic eggs, and 100 percent grass-fed beef (from North Florida).
Rochaix has seen great produce in North Florida too. "The
farmer in North Florida doesn't drive down here. The farmers would love
to do it, but there are no logistics -- the distribution channels aren't
set up that way." Rochaix hopes to take advantage of existing
trucking routes out of South Florida when the harvest begins: "The
trucks leave full from South Florida and return empty. Those trucks
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have to return anyway, so I plan on using those channels to bring more
produce from North Florida."
farmers. As a 20-year veteran of the restaurant industry, Rochaix knows
intimately how restaurants work and what might interest chefs. Lately, he's been trying to nudge local farmers to grow squash blossoms. "Chefs love them. It's almost like
they're addicted to squash blossoms. They really want them, and you
can't bring them on a truck from California because they won't make it."
Eventually, Seriously Organic will offer produce to consumers through a co-op.
Rochaix is excited about this upcoming harvest. He's also
optimistic about the economy, and microgreens are an indicator. "We're running out of microgreens each week," he says. "These are a high-end
item. When the Biltmore is buying a lot of microgreens, it means
they're not so worried about filling their rooms anymore."