Enjoy Locally Sourced Foods at French Lick Resort

By Joy Neighbors

Living Roots EcoVillage
The “local food movement” goes by several names: “locally sourced,” “locally sustainable foods,” “farm to table,” “farm to fork,” and “eat your zip code” are just a few. The movement is a way to connect food producers with consumers in the same area. These “locavores” have an avid interest in foods that are grown or produced locally. Farmers markets are very popular with foodies looking for ways to support local farmers while also eating foods that are of a higher quality, safer, (due to the lack of chemicals and pesticides), more affordable and better tasting.

At French Lick Resort, we promote state, regional and yes, local foods; even wines and beers. Several resort restaurants proudly serve produce, meats and cheeses that are locally grown.

At West Baden Springs Hotel, Sinclair’s Restaurant and Café at Sinclair’s each offers delectable dishes crafted from locally sourced foods. According to Executive Chef Ethan Smith, “We have a Sinclair’s menu which offers the staples – steak and potatoes, but we also have a menu that is flexible and I can change it up every week or two, depending on what is currently available locally. We use Capriole Farms in Greenville, Indiana for regional chèvre (goat) cheeses, Kenny’s Farmhouse in Barren County, Kentucky for artisanal cheeses, and Viking Lamb Meats in Morristown, Indiana (which have no growth stimulants or added hormones), along with duck from Maple Leaf Farms in Milford, Indiana.

Smith goes on to explain, "We also make our own in-house mozzarella and ricotta cheeses using Prairie Farms, an Indiana dairy. And we get most of our locally sourced produce from Living Roots (EcoVillage) of Orange County.” There is also a sidebar mention in the menu when a meal includes locally sourced items so the guests know.”

1875 Restaurant Manager Tom O'Connor
Tom O’Connor, restaurant manager of 1875: The Steakhouse noted that area foods are also highlighted on his menus. “Many daily specials and center of the plate entrees are created from local foods,” O'Conner said. “Flex menus are often our main entrée – our center of the plate specials. Local foods are also offered as appetizers and salads.” According to O’Connor, “Summer’s a great time for local eggplant, zucchini, onions, garlic and a variety of potatoes – all are in constant supply. And by purchasing from Living Roots (EcoVillage), it allows 1875 to serve chemically-free unprocessed food. Locally grown foods help us develop our flavor profiles and can make for a more exciting culinary experience for our guests,” O’Connor added.

Woodford Reserve Barrels on 1875 Patio
Besides Living Roots EcoVillage, 1875: The Steakhouse offers locally sourced beef from Fischer Farms in Jasper, handcrafted slow cured and smoked meats from Smoking Goose in Indianapolis and cheeses from Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese in Kentucky. What about regional wines and beers? “Yes, I use Huber Winery’s Starlight Distillery Brandy that they distill themselves,” O’Connor said. “And Woodford Reserve Bourbon crafts a barrel specifically to our specifications, which we serve to our guests. We also keep the barrels; they are on our patio.”

David Lee Burns, Chef de' Cuisine, French Lick Springs Hotel
David Lee Burns has a full plate to manage as Chef de’ Cuisine of French Lick Springs Hotel, which includes The Grand Colonnade Restaurant, Power Plant Bar & Grill, in-room dining and the employee dining room. Burns said he uses a variety of locally grown produce from Living Roots (EcoVillage) in his dishes. “They supply me with squash, zucchini and mixed greens including Swiss chard, collards and kale. I have an energetic kitchen staff that loves to learn and they will work with the produce we get to develop a recipe from scratch. To be creative with a product, you have to be willing to vary up the recipes for the best variety. We’re getting ready now to introduce an antipasto platter into the resort community that will touch several (food) areas, even the bakery where we’ll take focaccia bread and make it into a flat bread.”

The Grand Colonnade Restaurant
Chef Burns also offers guests a chance to taste Indiana-crafted beers. “I like to introduce guests to regional and state breweries and maybe turn them on to something new. More and more guests are looking for something different (on the menu.) Food can have more flavor – more heat, it just can’t be burn-your- mouth hot. That’s why we offer more Midwestern-style cooking. My goal is that you leave here happy and full.” Burns smiles and nods, “Ready to take a nap, you’re so full.”

Would these resort chefs and food managers like to grow a larger spot on their menus for locally sourced foods? Each one answered with a resounding “Yes!”

Sinclair's Restaurant
Sinclair’s executive chef Ethan Smith replied, “I would love to go bigger with it, but with Indiana’s shorter growing season it does make it difficult to go local all the time. There are times we simply have to blend. I love to use seasonal foods and to make use of them out of season in special sauces and jellies. I think guests appreciate finding local foods on the menu. We’ve had them ask where they can get something because they really like it.”

1875: The Steakhouse
According to 1875 manager, Tom O’Connor, “We want to match our guests interest and have something exciting for them to try. For Indiana’s Bicentennial, we are featuring foods that are historical to our state – that would have been eaten 200 years ago here – bison dishes, Indian harvest grains. Our guests are always looking for more local foods on the menu.”

Power Plant Bar & Grill
Chef de’ Cuisine of French Lick Springs Hotel, David Burns said, “I would like to
see (locally sourced food) take a more prominent role. We take pride in what we produce here (in the Hoosier State.) Kentucky is very local-focused with their Kentucky Proud program and I’d like to see Indiana do the same.” 

By utilizing foods that are locally produced and grown, French Lick Resort continues to provide guests with a higher quality, more flavorful dining experience while encouraging more more sustainable agriculture in the community; a true "win-win" for everyone.