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Chefs' favorite farmers

May 07, 2003|Russ Parsons | Times Staff Writer

TALKING to chefs about farmers is like talking to baseball fans about right fielders. The list of the great ones just goes on and on, and nobody can agree on just one or two. Every chef that we interviewed said they bought from 15 to 20 different farmers every week.

"We like to stimulate the economy for everyone," jokes Josiah Citrin.

When we asked them to narrow their choices to just the four or five best, there were still nearly 20 farmers named. Here are the top vote-getters as selected by Citrin, Joe Miller, Suzanne Goin, Mark Peel, Scooter Kanfer, T. Nicholas Peter and Bruce Marder.

Clearwater Farms: Wild mushrooms, ramps, huckleberries in season. "When it's the season for porcini, morels and matsutake, I go crazy," says Citrin.

Coastal Organics: All vegetables, especially carrots, fava beans. "In summer, they have the best tomatoes in the market, without a doubt," says Kanfer.

Coleman Family Farms: Greens, sugar snap peas, herbs. "I'm a greens fanatic, and they seem to be greens fanatics too," says Goin. "It seems I'm always finding a new kind of kale there."

McGrath Family Farms: Strawberries, pea vines, pea tendrils, fava beans, parsley root, lima beans. "They've got these amazing parsley roots shaped like a tiny carrot. We roast them and serve the whole thing," says Peel.

Rutiz Farm: Carrots, fava beans, different lettuces. "He's one of the few who has those great lipstick peppers around July or August," says Miller.

Schaner Farms: Citrus, onions, green garlic, nettles. "We even buy the firewood for our wood-burning oven from him," says Goin.

Suncoast Farms: Specialty vegetables. "I love his purple artichokes," says Citrin.

Windrose Farm: Heirloom tomatoes in season, dried beans. "When I ripped up my paddle tennis court and started a vegetable garden, I bought 90 tomato plants from her," says Marder.

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