Local Focus: Forklift Catering
|Features - Chefs and Restaurants|
|Written by Michelle Collins|
For many restaurant owners, it’s hard enough feeding their diners on nothing but organic, locally-grown products. But imagine having to feed hundreds of guests at a wedding, depending mainly on what was grown at the local farms that week.
“The stuff right there out of the ground is always the best,” Tourse said.
Tourse and Rogers started Forklift Catering back in 2008, but had been cooking together six years prior to that. Both chefs graduated from the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, and have many years of professional culinary training under their belts from various restaurants in the area, including Upstairs on the Square. Tourse and Rogers’ interests in local food came long before opening Forklift Catering, and both chefs have their own personal reasons for appreciating it.
“My wife and I have had a CSA for four years now,” Rogers said. “I used to not like turnips, (and) now I love them.”
For Tourse, his interest in cooking and eating local food stems from his upbringing.
“A lot of cooking happened in my house growing up,” Tourse said. “My dad is also…a green (advocate).”
As with many farm-fueled menus, Forklift Caterings’ changes with what’s in season. Currently, dishes like Vegetarian Quiche with Tomato and Asparagus, Thai Spicy Beef Salad in a Mini Cucumber Cup, and Creamy Wild Mushroom Soup with White Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps are scattered across their menus for various occasions. But for having so many different menus that need to change so often - wouldn’t it be easier and more cost effective to just buy industrialized products?
“Sometimes the high price of local ingredients has our clients requesting (mass produced) products,” Tourse said.
Tourse also admitted, however, that buying local has become easier in a lot of ways, versus buying mass produced food, thanks to the relationships Tourse and Rogers have developed with local farmers and the local community. To help keep their prices at a reasonable rate for many customers, Tourse and Rogers may order their supplies from Russo’s in Watertown as well as a vendor based in New York City, depending on the event. When ordering, Tourse and Rogers still make sure to request as many local ingredients as possible, and supplement any additional products from local farms.
“We have an oyster farm that we love,” Rogers said.
East Dennis Oyster Farm on Cape Cod is where Tourse and Rogers get their oysters, and the two chefs even went out there to learn about the oysters and the farm itself. Forklift Catering’s coffee comes from Pierce Bros. Coffee Roasters out of Greenfield, and they get their cheese from Narragansett Creamery in Providence, R.I., among other local farms.
“I think that all chefs have their preference – they use the best (ingredients) they can,” Rogers said.
Michelle Collins is a freelance food writer based out of Waltham, Massachusetts. She is a regular contributor to The Nashua Telegraph in Nashua, N.H., and her work has also been featured in Edible White Mountains and Parenting New Hampshire Magazines. Outside of print, Michelle also has her own money conscious food blog called The Economical Eater.