Duncan's Trading Company

By: Carey Sweet
The Arizona Republic

Pat Duncan Pat Duncan with Chef Chuck WileyWondering if all those “local, organic” designators on restaurant menus are too good to be true? You can’t get much better proof than having the actual farmer who grew your dinner sitting right next to you.

Such is your opportunity with the chef’s table event being held on Monday, March 9 at Café Zuzu in the Hotel Valley Ho. Farmer Patrick Duncan will personally host, showcasing his fine stuff from Duncan’s Trading Co. of Litchfield Park.

What’s all the fuss about vegetables? Duncan’s isn’t the typical produce that you find in commercial markets. He grows heirloom varieties in unexpected colors and unusual shapes and sizes with distinct flavors you may have never before experienced from the garden.

“Chefs are only as good as the ingredients they use, so passionate organic growers are essential to the evolution of our cuisine,” says ZuZu chef Chuck Wiley. “Some say we are entering the era of the celebrity farmer - I’m sure the reality show is already in the works. Personally I’m all for it; they make us chefs look good and it’s about time they received some recognition.”

The menu, not surprisingly, is veggie-centric, starting with crispy calamari on grilled radicchio and radishes, frisee and Green Goddess dressing; roasted beet medley salad with wild arugula, glazed pecans and goat cheese; and rosemary roasted tenderloin of beef green peppercorn au poivre with baby onions, braised Zefa Fina fennel and tangerine. Dessert is pineapple “variation,” which will be up to the whim of ZuZu’s new pastry chef Monica Castillo (a La Grande Orange alum) – perhaps panna cotta, caramelized pineapple, sorbet, cake, sabayon or tart.