Eater LA: The Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Market, the largest grower-only Certified Farmers Market in Southern California, attracts the who's who of Los Angeles culinary talent. Stop by at 9 a.m. any given Wednesday, and one will note chefs left, right, and center, some scurrying between farm stands, while others loiter at Arizona and 3rd to shoot the breeze over a Rockenwagner coffee and a pretzel roll, or two.
Chef Ray Garcia of nearby FIG restaurant inside the Fairmont Mirimar Hotel is no exception. Garcia chooses to shop at farmers markets because he believes it's important to know what goes into one's food. On a recent Wednesday morning Eater caught up with the chef to chat about seasonal ingredients, menu inspiration, and some of his favorite farms.
In general, the market rules Garcia's menu. He likes to discover ingredients and challenge himself to create new plates as opposed to staying within his comfort zone and always preparing ingredients with which he is familiar. On this given Wednesday Garcia was especially excited about a modest bunch of blossoming rapini flowers he had procured to garnish salads later that evening. The chef explains that sometimes growers have such small quantities of product and he has to buy everything he can. Some farmers will sell all to chefs, other farmers will save product for the regular shoppers later in the day.