True Farm-To-Table Cuisine At Sonoma Valley’s Folktable
08 / 2023 | by: Forbes
The phrase “farm-to-table” gets thrown around a lot in the culinary world so it’s easy to brush it off when reading about restaurants. However, when you can literally see a restaurant is surrounded by its own immaculate culinary gardens and crops, you know “farm-to-table” is more than just a catch phrase.
Read the press entry from Forbes down below.
Located in Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma, California is Folktable, a hyper seasonal restaurant helmed by former Top Chef alum, Executive Chef Casey Thompson.
Folktable not only opened its doors during the pandemic, but also received the coveted Michelin Bib Gourmand designation three years in a row, making it a culinary destination worth dining at.
“Folktable is a truly unique space in the Cornerstone Gardens in Sonoma,” explains Chef Casey Thompson. “If you’ve never been there, you have to see it to believe it. We have a farm that is just across the parking lot from us, one in Dixon, and one across the road that has stone fruit trees, hens and pigs. We work with the farmer team to bring us the freshest ingredients.”
In collaboration with Tank House Farms, a collection of agricultural properties in the Sonoma Valley that specializes in regenerative farming, sustainability and zero waste, and esteemed farmer Landy Landercasper, Folktable serves only the best quality ingredients of what’s in season. Folktable features organic produce grown for local distribution, not mass-production, as well as ethically raised livestock and minimal waste, making way for maximal flavor in each menu item.
“We plan together to plant for the upcoming seasons to supply the restaurant menu,” she continues. “The ingredients are hyper local, bypass the middleman, and reduce carbon footprint with no packaging and no delivery — we use a bike. We are conscious of how the plants are grown, they are all organic, and we do not use any pesticides.”
“The farmers deliver ingredients that are harvested just hours before. This makes the dishes delicious, bright in flavor, using the freshest possible ingredients a chef can get their hands on.”
On the menu currently sharables that include blister summer peppers with a pistachio-shishito puree; creamy kimchi dip with farm pickled vegetables; and the Brokaw avocado and charred corn with fresh cheese and chile tamulado. Folktable offers a selection of incredible salads like the farm harvest with kale, chard, strawberries, pistachio and ricotta salata with a sumac dressing; the Greek panzanella with tzatziki; and the Tank House Farms stone fruit and griddled halloumi with green chutney.
When it comes to mains, they do not disappoint. Highlights include Farmer Landy’s BLT with dry cured-double smoked bacon and farm tomatoes; the farm honey fried chicken sandwich and the green goddess Maine lobster roll.
We chatted with Executive Chef Casey Thompson on Folktable’s cuisine, inspiration, and things to come. Here’s what she had say.
How has your impressive resume informed your style of cuisine?
Well, thank you for the compliment. I have been lucky enough to work with some very talented chefs. But, I would say, the experience of Top Chef and the other competitions I have been a part of have kept me fresh and interested in trying new combinations and techniques. Also, travel is a BIG part of a chef’s repertoire. It is SO important to understand other cultures and their ingredients.
Where else do you draw inspiration for your innovative seasonal menus?
I read cookbooks, magazines, travel, and ask other chefs what they are into at the moment. I cook the way I like to eat. I really don’t cook for anyone else. Sorry! I do take into consideration the plates, setting, garnish, portion size, and overall look of the dish for others.
You work incredibly close with your farm partner, Christopher “Landy” Landercasper, of Tank House Farms. Describe your collaborative process.
Landy and I have a great relationship. We talk often about what is coming or what we can do for the upcoming season. We walk the farm together often. It’s his office and my therapy. Literally, if I ask for it, he will try to grow it and make it perfect. Landy also has a vision for the future of farming that I respect. He and I have big hearts for animals and their purpose in our food chain. It’s the way I have always viewed harvesting animals. We have a responsibility, and we share that.
What are some of your favorite ingredients to work with?
This may not make much sense to some, but citrus juice, charring elements, what we call “green salt” in the kitchen, MSG and spice.
What dishes are you most excited about right now?
It is summer, which is like the Superbowl for us wine country chefs if you will… Landy’s BLT, the ahi agua chile dish, the Green Goddess lobster roll. Summer perfection.
I hear you’re also behind the revamp of The Depot in downtown Sonoma, adding some ‘Casey Thompson’ flair to classic Italian cuisine. Describe what you’re doing there.
The Depot is a work in progress. We have a really wonderful chef that runs the day to day there. I am just trying to keep the menu seasonal and fresh. It is a restaurant that has been a staple in Sonoma for a very long time. I am honoring the locals and what they want to see on the menu, and what I want to see – slowly.
What’s next for Folktable?
Folktable is hitting its best stride. Year three is when you finally feel comfortable, but Folktable is a restaurant that will keep you on your toes because of its many facets. The sky is literally the limit. What I do want to see, is a total revamp of our coffee shop that is up front! We can do so much more! I want to sell some killer sandwiches out of that space. The BEST in Sonoma. We will continue to reach for the stars and count them as a reminder of how far we’ve come.