Tonight’s opening gala for COLORS-Detroit is more than a typical restaurant opening. Modeled after the Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) United co-op restaurant, COLORS-Detroit will be focused on demonstrating that restaurants can successfully use locally sourced foods, provide living wages for their employees and giving a path for food entrepreneurs to follow.
With the former executive chef at Lola’s, Phil Jones, directing the menu, you can be rest assured the food will be top notch. As the vice chair of the Detroit Food Policy Council, he is also very involved in making sure local farmers have their chance to supply the restaurant. One of his goals is to help local farmers build the capacity to be the first choice for many restaurants in the area.
“One goal is to encourage local production of everything if it’s not already grown here,” says Jones.
For example, he is working on developing relationships with local poultry farmers so they can better match their chicken production cycle to restaurant needs, reducing the need to freeze meats. This results in better flavor.
As Jones notes, he is “all about the flavors of food and bringing out the local flavors.”
Aside from tasting good, focusing on using locally sourced foods is also a part of ROC-MI’s outreach work. According to Minsu Longiaru, coordinator for ROC-MI, access to quality food for restaurant workers is one of the many concerns her organization is working to address. This concern extends to the workers who grow and raise the food that is being prepared as well.
“Worker’s own access to food is also a part of our model,” says Longiaru. “When we think of slow food movements or just food, we also think about the workers who prepare it.”