Peoria offers pop-up dinners made with farm fresh and local produce

Patrick Corey remembers when his sister, Katie Rudolphi, first began serious about opening a Sous Chef. She reached out to native farmers and envisioned making a form of “conventional farmers market,” he mentioned.

“I advised her she was loopy, and I’d by no means be part of it,” Corey remembers.

5 years after opening within the warehouse district, Corey has labored at Sous Chef for nearly her complete tenure. Whereas his sister has stepped again from the day-to-day features of the enterprise, the shop continues to offer recent, native produce to the group.

“It has been an incredible journey and an awesome enterprise concept,” Corey mentioned.

Earlier this yr, Alexandre Bartoloni joined Currie within the enterprise. The 2 mentioned their main purpose is to succeed in extra folks in the neighborhood by providing new Sous Chef occasions and alternatives.

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“Agriculture isn’t just about John Deere.”

At Sous Chef, clients can discover merchandise from a wide range of regional farms. On Fb, the corporate highlighted Wild Development Connoisseur Mushrooms, carrots from Hungry World Farm, milk from Kilgus Farmstead and extra.

Bartoloni, who has labored at Epiphany Farms in Bloomington and different eating places, mentioned it appears as if extra persons are beginning to consider the place they develop their meals.

“I feel the mindset is shifting,” Bartoloni mentioned, “agriculture doesn’t simply imply corn and John Deere soybeans: it could additionally imply small acreage, lower than 100 acres.”

Being situated within the nation’s breadbasket, Corey mentioned Sous Chef has entry to a variety of seasonal produce. Consumers can use Hyperlink Playing cards at Sous Chef and “earn Hyperlink {Dollars} that may then be redeemed” at Sous Chef, he added.

Proper now, Corey mentioned tomato and pepper season is coming to an finish. He expects to have pumpkins, greens and root greens all through the autumn harvest.

“Native, recent produce goes to be more healthy. It’ll have extra vitamins. It’ll be higher for you. It has an extended shelf life in your fridge,” Corey mentioned.

A few of these gadgets are positioned in cabinets and baskets within the retailer – prepared for use nevertheless the shopper needs. Others are integrated into meals which can be eaten and baked.

Just lately, Sous Chef additionally unveiled farm-fresh dinner occasions.

“Once you’re a chef and you’ve got a powerful ardour for being a chef, you care concerning the high quality of your components and the place they arrive from,” Bartoloni mentioned. “And you’ve got lots of people who come and eat at your restaurant and care about the place it comes from.”

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“Able to making actually scrumptious issues.”

After internet hosting a pop-up dinner for the household in July, Sous Chef held its first public occasion on September 23, which featured a four-course vegetarian menu. The following occasion – ​​scheduled for October 21 – will characteristic pork because the star of the meal.

Bartoloni mentioned he drew inspiration from his and Corey’s culinary backgrounds when considering of occasion menus. For Bartoloni, there may be additionally a need to indicate the group what Sous Chef can do.

“I actually love tremendous eating and stuff, and I wish to present that Sous Chef — like a small-batch grocery retailer like this — is ready to do actually scrumptious issues,” he mentioned. “A variety of them are additionally issues you’ll be able to take straight from the fridge.”

Each pop-up dinners characteristic galettes as appetizers, so Bartoloni advised that Sous Chef provide the identical flavors in retailer so clients might bake them at dwelling.

“I say, ‘Alex that is a genius.’ “That is why you are on the workforce,” Corey mentioned.

In every menu, Currie and Bartoloni additionally bear in mind the seasonality of their components. After all, Corey mentioned planning greater than a month upfront generally is a problem, as a result of crops aren’t at all times prepared to reap at the very same level every year.

Actually, for the vegetarian dinner, Corey mentioned they initially deliberate to serve sliced ​​spinach. When it grew to become clear that farmers wouldn’t be adequately ready by the point of the occasion, they determined to change.

“That is the enjoyable factor. Not solely is it fast and straightforward, every little thing is frozen, you’ll be able to take it out of the freezer and it is able to go, you realize,” Corey mentioned. “Generally you get curveballs.”

Corey mentioned he expects Sous Chef to seat 32 to 36 folks on the pop-ups. Given the restricted promoting for the primary occasions, Corey mentioned he was happy with the group response. He mentioned lots of the people who signed up gave the impression to be new clients.

“So, our hope is that they are going to are available, have an awesome meal, actually just like the appetizers, purchase some, see the totally different choices that now we have, and perhaps then change into common clients,” he mentioned.

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Working to “Put the Sous Chef on the Map”

Increasing the shopper base is a main purpose at Sous Chef. Over the previous few years, Corey mentioned the corporate hasn’t invested a lot in promoting.

“We had been relying quite a bit on native media, phrase of mouth, Fb, Instagram, all that stuff,” Corey mentioned. “So it is simply form of self-marketing.”

Since Bartoloni joined the enterprise earlier this yr, he mentioned he is been “fairly decided to attempt to put Sous Chef on the map.” The corporate advertises somewhat on social media however needs to seek out different methods to draw folks as properly, he mentioned.

In Might, Sous Chef reintroduced Quiche and Espresso — which had been placed on maintain throughout the pandemic — as a daily Saturday occasion, and Corey and Bartoloni mentioned they anticipate to serve the soup as soon as the climate will get cooler.

Apart from, the couple plans to supply cooking lessons all through the winter. Corey mentioned the teachings might enable the Sous Chef to show folks about much less widespread produce — reminiscent of mushrooms or cabbage.

“We simply wish to give folks entry to information on learn how to use it correctly and make it style good,” he mentioned.

Shifting into the long run, Bartoloni and Corey additionally hope to capitalize on Sous Chef’s meal prep choices. Bartoloni mentioned he envisions clients with the ability to order every week’s value of ready meals or all of the components wanted to organize a recipe at dwelling.

General, Bartoloni mentioned Corey has been very supportive of his concepts for diversifying and increasing the corporate’s choices. Whereas he described himself as a “dreamer,” he mentioned Corey is superb at understanding what a Sous Chef can moderately provide.

“I feel we each play properly off one another’s personalities and our strengths and weaknesses,” Bartoloni mentioned. “And it has been a extremely nice journey.”

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