World Chefs: Michael LaScola makes sustainable mean something

Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:49am EST
 
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By Chris Michaud

(Reuters) - Sustainable and locally sourced foods have been at the forefront of American cooking trends for at least a decade, but the approach takes on a fresh set of challenges when the locality is a small island off the coast of Massachusetts.

Nantucket chef Michael LaScola has found the approach widening his culinary talents, which champions regional American cooking, while also boosting the sense of community so integral to small island life.

Several years ago, LaScola switched from a regional concept to a menu based on local sourcing, which means seasonality, ushering in a unique set of opportunities and challenges at Nantucket's 25-year-old American Seasons restaurant, which he has owned since 2004.

"It gives us more freedom to go crazy," he said.

LaScola talked to Reuters about the challenges of living and working on an island and local sourcing.

Q: What motivated you to abandon the regional concept in favor of a local, sustainable approach?

A: "We used to have to try to force things to fit the categories like Southwestern, which is really not my style. Especially being up in New England, it was a challenge. It limited creativity. But now we change things constantly, as soon as things come into or go out of season. The menu used to change three times a year -- now we can change it on a weekly basis."

Q: Has it made things easier or more difficult?   Continued...

 
Nantucket Chef Michael LaScola works with locally farmed Nantucket produce in Nantucket, in this June 2004 photo provided by Orla Murphy-LaScola. REUTERS/Orla Murphy-LaScola/Handout