Looking Ahead to Spring at NECI on Main

by Nat Frothingham

NECI’s Chef Lyndon with Deondre, Horace, and Alejandro. Photo by Michael Jermyn

The calendar and the weather are at odds again. The calendar is telling us it’s spring, but the weather is telling that an almost vengeful winter with snow, ice, and freezing rain is still very much with us.

Despite the weather, a few days ago, in expectation of spring Chef Jean-Louis Gerin assembled a small number of NECI chefs to think about spring and food.

Sitting together around a table at NECI on Main and talking about the coming of spring and food were Chef-Instructor Lyndon Virkler Jr.  and Chef-Instructor Martha Franklin.

Along with fellow writer Darryl Benjamin, Chef Lyndon Virkler, Jr. wrote the seminal (2016) book Farm to Table: The Essential Guide to Sustainable Food Systems for Students, Professionals, and Consumers.

But as Chef Virkler observed, it’s no longer 2016. In fact, it’s 2018, and the Trump administration has in many ways set back the idea of sustainable food systems. “We are having to re-argue the case for sustainability,” said Virkler.

But not all is lost. Said Virkler, “People are coming to us because they want to learn about sustainability.”

“I should be concerned about where my food is coming from,” said Chef Instructor Martha Franklin. She insists with students that they “know who their vendors are.”

“Leave your situation in better shape than you found it,” she says. “And don’t forget to look for your food at the local farmers’ market.”

Chef Frankin said that NECI graduates are taking the sustainability message to their work assignments around the world.

And NECI graduates are quickly rising in their profession. “Our experience tells that NECI graduates will be in management positions in less than five years after they leave us,” said Jean-Louis.

Turning to the NECI on Main menu, Chef Jean-Louis said that locally sources beef for two was popular as was Prime Ribeye for Two (or not). And the “Fresh Catch Fish of the Day” was also a big hit.

Chef Jean-Louis said that last fall’s La Brioche makeover has been very successful. And he noted that NECI on Main opens from 3:30 to 9 pm.

As to NECI on Main’s commitment to fresh food, he said, “We want to be precisely in the moment.”

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