Mat-Su produce makes its way to Alaska restaurants' tables

Posted: Monday, January 05, 2009

ANCHORAGE - A growing number of Anchorage restaurants are making it a priority to use Alaska foods, including produce from the Mat-Su Valley.

Participating in the trend are three Anchorage entrepreneurs whose new delivery service - Alaska Root Sellers - has begun making regular runs from farms to restaurants.

Anchorage chefs say that until now, no other suppliers have provided Alaska produce to restaurants on a reliable, weekly basis.

Palmer farmer Ben VanderWeele's clientele sees the new deliveries as a valuable marketing opportunity.

He says the farms' customer base will grow in the long run if more people get exposed to their produce.

Dave Thorne, one of a trio behind the service, says Root Sellers currently is buying from five farms and delivering to seven restaurants.

Thorne and Scott Caddell are veteran chefs who have worked in local restaurants over the years. The third in the trio, Kim Sollien, is a blogger and local-foods advocate.

Their business is similar to other local-food delivery operations that have sprouted outside the state. They decided to create one here because of their interest in supporting local agriculture.

"One day we were talking about it, the next day we were making deliveries," Thorne said.

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