The Clever Root

Fall / Winter 2015

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f a l l / w i n t e r 2 0 1 5 | 1 3 Chef Chris Kobayashi of Artisan in Paso Robles, CA, champions sustainable, local, and organic ingredi- ents, including abalone. For Chef Kobayashi's small-plate tostada, abalone pieces are dipped in buttermilk and then in lightly seasoned rice flour before being deep-fried to a golden brown, then placed atop a crispy taco-sized tortilla along with grilled corn, chopped cherry tomatoes, and slices of avocado. something else with the abalone," says Kobayashi, "but it will be on the menu somewhere." It will also definitely be from The Abalone Farm, even though Artisan could easily get cheaper, imported product. "Yes, maybe we could save a few dollars a pound, but that's not really the point for us," explains Kobayashi. "It makes a huge difference to us that this is a local product [raised about 25 miles away] and that we know where it comes from." Buckley noted that this sense of place is something that other chefs could use to their advantage as well. "People have become so interested in where their food comes from," he says. "For example, with oysters, we want to know what type, East Coast or West, and what bay they were grown in. With up to 57 species of abalone in the world ranging from tropical to sub-arctic waters, I wish people would also question abalone origin because—just as with oysters—there are a lot of differences when it comes to taste and texture." In addition, "California aquaculture standards are the strict- est in the nation, possibly in the world," says Buckley. "So that abalone is going to be a better, safer option." It takes four to five years for abalone to reach market size, which is only about as big as a beer coaster. ■cr

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