Staying in Seattle for another interview, we were able to speak with Executive Chef Mark Bodinet of Copperleaf Restaurant & Bar. This two year old restaurant is committed to utilizing locally sourced ingredients. Some of their sourcing is quite local, as they grow herbs, vegetables, and mushrooms on property. Their commitment to sustainability extends beyond their menu to items, such as decor. One example of this is a Tuscan table made from reclaimed old forest growth.
Chef Bodinet spoke with me about the restaurant.
TT: Reviewing your menu, you use a large amount of local produce. What local produce items are being used in your dishes currently?
CB: On our menus we showcase the wonderful growers in our region including items that come from our own chef’s garden and mushroom cultivation patch. Full Circle Farm in Carnation, Washington, provides us with carrots, beets, radish, collard greens, and broccolini, along with an assortment of other products too long to note. Richter Farms in Puyallup, WA, has some of the best rhubarb and raspberries in the Northwest and Willie greens in Monroe, WA, grows a beautiful assortment of lettuces, peas, sweet corn, fennel and again too many great items to list.
TT: What is your favorite dish that includes local produce?
CB: I think they are all special because every item that is from Washington is available for our local guests to enjoy at home and in Copperleaf. The ability to go to the farmers markets and the availability to go and visit the actual farms are special connections in developing the strength of local foods by showing buying power within our community.
TT: As you include seasonal produce in your menu, how often do you change your regular or special menu items?
CB: We will change our menu based upon the seasons. For instance as the season ends on Porcini mushrooms, albeit sad, we have wonderful summer chanterelles that are at their prime and absolutely delicious. There is always a season ending for one item while another has just begun.
TT: You have some interesting ingredients on your menu that you don’t see at many restaurants, such as nettles. Do you find that you need to educate your diners on these ingredients or are they familiar with them?
CB: Many of our guests are familiar with a lot of our items as they live locally and can acquire the same ingredients from their farmers markets. Other items that are not as commonplace we will help in educating our guests as to where they can find them.
TT: Are there ingredients that you won’t use because they aren’t sustainable?
CB: Being responsible with our sourcing is part of our culture, and we work diligently to acquire our products from growers that have the same quality standard and responsibility focus as we do.
TT: What makes your menu/restaurant unique?
CB: Copperleaf is special because of the relationships with the growers, ranchers, fisherman, and other producers we use in showcasing their craft. We source amazing products, cook them with respect and a high level of detail in an effort to be a module of responsibility within our community and offer an excellent value to our guests in using the abundance of local products available.
(Photo courtesy of Copperleaf Restaurant & Bar)