An Alt-Restaurant Week Emerges In San Diego In 2017 | Inaugural Farm To Fork Week Takes Place January 15-22

January 4, 2017

The owner of Mission Hills sister restaurants The Red Door & Bar by Red Door, Trish Watlington is hosting her own week of dining deals during this year's winter edition of San Diego Restaurant Week. Farm To Fork Week will celebrate the special relationship between local farmers, food purveyors, chefs and restaurants with dining specials throughout San Diego County during the inaugural event this January 15-22.

"San Diego Farm to Fork Week is a grassroots effort by a community of restaurants, most of them small and independent, who are loyal to local farmers and purveyors, to support each other in marketing efforts at a time when restaurant sales are generally slow," explained San Diego Farm To Fork Week founder Trish Watlington.

Many people don't know this, but it's not cheap for a restaurant to participate in San Diego Restaurant Week, and the process and cost of participation keeps many eateries from being part of the biannual event. As a bit of a backlash to the price associated with participation, more and more restaurants have tapped into the marketing of SDRW and offered their own price-fixed, multi-course meals despite not investing into the California Restaurant Association-organized campaign.

"For most of us, the cost of Restaurant Week is high but the pressure to lower our prices to compete that week is strong," continued Watlington. "We joined together to find a way to promote what WE do - support and showcase local farms, which is dramatically different than what most restaurants do, at a time when we most needed to do it."

Watlington has assured that Farm to Fork Week is not intended as a push back against San Diego Restaurant Week, adding that even some of the restaurants participating in F2F are also part of SDRW. Rather, Watlington's goal is to host a week of meals where diners are supporting farm families and their workers, while reducing the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions by lowering the number of miles food travels to get to the plate.

"What sets Farm to Fork Week apart is our chefs' commitments to sourcing ingredients from local farmers we know and trust as well as the time we spend verifying, through our farmers, that participating chefs and restaurants are in fact buying from them," said Trish.

Being it is the first installment of Farm to Fork Week, San Diego restaurants currently offering specials are only a fraction of the more than 180 participating in San Diego Restaurant Week. Currently on board are The Red Door, Bar by Red Door, Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub, The Whet Noodle, 608 Oceanside, Jeremy’s on the Hill, BIGA, Garden Kitchen, and Cardamom CafĂ© and Bakery, with Watlington hoping that more will sign up as the event draws near.

"The beauty of Farm to Fork Week is that specials are whatever works for each venue," said Watlington.

The Red Door will offer a three course prix fixe for $40, but BAR by Red Door will be offering a cocktail and small plate for $15. Garden Kitchen is also doing a 3 course prix fixe for $40 but their menu changes every day. Wrench and Rodent will do a $30 omakase featuring locally sourced vegetables and fish with one hot special, one cold special, three two-piece rounds of nigiri, and a locally crafted cheesecake. BIGA is serving 3 courses for $30, and Cardamom will be offering a breakfast special.

"Our plan is to work with local sponsors, some of whom are already on board, to develop the week into something bigger, with dinners, tours, events, lectures, panel discussions," detailed Watlington.
"But at the same time continue to verify that participating restaurants are buying from local farmers and grow the Farm to Fork website into a directory. We’re shooting for early September for a really big Farm to Fork week."

To kick off Farm to Fork Week Kick, BIGA in downtown San Diego will host a whole hog roast featuring Chefs Tae Dickey of BIGA, Willy Eick of 608 Oceanside, Drew Bent of Lola 55, and Evan Cruz of Arterra. Tickets are $30 in advance ($35 at the door) and include food, a wine sample and one beer. Two other special meals will also take place during the week, including a wine, snack and book event with Lisa Kivirist, author of Soil Sisters, and a special Farmers, Friends and Fisherman dinner. 

In June 2016, Watlington began the process to make The Red Door Restaurant & Wine Bar the first community supported restaurant (CSR) in all of California, offering investors a chance to buy into the eatery in exchange for exclusive benefits. She also recently converted her former Wellington Steak & Martini Lounge into a new craft cocktail bar, Bar by Red Door

For more information on San Diego Farm to Fork Week, visit farmtoforksd.com.