AUSTIN (KXAN) — From drought to flooding rains, Central Texas is no stranger to rapid extreme changes to our weather. But with climate change and increasing frequency of harsh weather, farms are trying their best to cope as conditions become less and less conducive for many crops.
Meteorologist Sean Kelly spoke with Chef and Owner Fiore Tedesco of L’Oca d’Oro. L’Oca d’Oro is an Italian farm-to-table restaurant that heavily relies on produce from local farms in Central Texas.
“The way that we construct our menu is based strictly on the produce that we’re able to get from the small local farms.” Tedesco said.
He has been noticing some big changes in years past with the local farms that provide him produce.
“With climate change, this is impacting an ingredient, it’s not around where it should be or where they thought it was going to be. It doesn’t taste or look exactly like it should.” Tedesco said.
Tomatoes haven’t been the most reliable for him. Squash seasons are beginning to evolve, and he’s even had to deal with a poor eggplant harvest.
“The eggplants ended up being tiny and start to rot rather than reaching full maturation” He added he still went on to purchase the eggplants to find a way to make a unique dish out of them.
Luckily he’s set up the structure of his restaurant to be able to adapt to sudden or extreme weather changes that may impact a crop. This is done by allowing for a flexible menu; one that is not set in stone.
This allows him to go beyond a single ingredient if a season gets rough and a crop doesn’t produce.
“We’re featuring more wild herbs and wild grains.” Tedesco added.
Normally, he would treat those as background ingredients, but now he has pushed them more at the forefront of his dishes. He’s involved with his dishes every step of the way and takes pride with going on-site to farms to see for himself what he can use for cooking.
“I am often looking at that produce first. And looking at what excites me… I have an open mind.” Tedesco said.
Sourcing local is extremely important to him, and he will continue to do whatever it takes to support these farms.