ONE TEN // craft meatery – Warsaw, IN

“From Hot Pockets to freezer beef”

Like clock work, I can count on a text from Chef Jason Brown every Monday morning with his weekly order. { Jakes: 3 belly, hickory, applewood, 20 chicken quarters. } Short and to the point. But you have to be when you source locally and work with a myriad of farmers and producers. Want to know if a chef actually uses that local food they advertise. Ask how many farmers’ phone numbers are listed in the frequent contacts.

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As our southern most connection, I don’t often have the chance to drop in on Jason so I knew I would need to make a point of scheduling a time to chat with him and see how things were going.

He was more than willing to meet, as long as it was prior to opening and the start of the day. Completely understandable with a place as popular as ONE TEN. I worked for years in the restaurant industry and know how quickly your day slips away.

My goal for the day was to learn about how Jason arrived at this place with a passion for local food. It is the journey that I find so interesting. Was local food always a part of family life? Where was he first introduced to it? What made it such an important part of life?

110warsaw.14Jason said he grew up “in the city” – that city being Warsaw, IN pop. 12,000 – and that his family was a traditional grocery store family. Even though they were surrounded by ag, he said he didn’t have any real connection to food. But around age 12 his family moved from the city to the neighboring rural community. As Jason put it, he went from Hot Pockets to freezer beef real quick.

It was during this time that he started to understand the connection between the farmer and the consumer. That food had a history and a story. His connection to food was strengthened when at 16 he started working at the local fixture – Noa Noa – a restaurant Jason has credited with jump-starting the local dining community. { Here is a great article from Edible Michiana about the heritage of chefs that started at Noa Noa. }

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After spending a couple years in sales, Jason noticed that all of the farm-to-table restaurants were located in big cities – nowhere near the farm. That insight, combined with a belief that Warsaw was a ready for growth lead him to open ONE TEN in his hometown. He wanted a product he could believe in, and he believes in authentic food.

Jason also believes that all aspects of a business should work together, a belief that his father instilled in him. He knew that for many restaurants in the area staffing was an ongoing issue, so he has made steps to reduce the perpetual revolving door that many restaurants battle. The hiring process at ONE TEN might take a little longer, but Jason and his team are looking for different qualities than most restaurants. He wants to hire like minded people; who also believe in authentic food, and create a community they can thrive in. ONE TEN practices a type of tip sharing program among staff that attempts to reward everyone equally – both front and back of house.

 

“An economy genuinely local and neighborly offers to localities a measure of security that they cannot derive from a national or a global economy controlled by people who, by principle, have no local commitment.” – Wendell Berry

Starting with a quote by the farmer and poet, Wendell Berry, the menu at ONE TEN immediately lets you know you are in for a unique experience. It also contains a list of farmers and producers that supply the restaurant, showing just how much work it takes to walk the farm-to-table talk. The menu changes seasonally depending on what is available, and I know from experience that sometimes Jason has to get creative because of unscheduled shortages. (Sorry about that catfish…)

Honestly, my only complaint about ONE TEN is that it is located almost 2 hours from my house…

I am extremely proud and grateful for our connection to ONE TEN and Jason. The local food community is full of amazing and interesting people and I look forward to continuing to tell their stories.

 

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