Two years ago, when Chef Anthony Felan left Shreveport for California, the farm-to-table movement hadn’t really arrived in Shreveport-Bossier. Few restaurants were serving locally sourced ingredients and it remained to be seen whether consumers would demand it. There were a lot of connections that still needed to be made between farmers, chefs and the general public. Slow Food North Louisiana, the very active (and awesome) local chapter of Slow Food USA with whom Felan has worked closely, was beginning to establish those connections.
“I spent a lot of my days off just driving around, in my chef coat, stopping at farms and gardens and just introducing myself,” Felan told me. A native of Shreveport, Felan is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy Le Cordon Bleu of San Francisco. Prior to his recent stint in California, he was the head chef at Wine Country Bistro, a position that he has recently returned to. For local food lovers who know of Felan’s passionate advocacy for eating locally sourced food, his return is exciting news.
I recently chatted with Chef Anthony about what inspires him and what he has planned for his second tenure at Wine Country.
20×49: What kinds of things can we look forward to from Wine Country? What are you excited about right now?
AF: I want Wine Country to be a destination restaurant, I want people to talk about what we’re doing here…once we get through the holiday season, we’re gonna come out with guns blazing. We’ll hopefully be making our own fresh bread for the restaurant. We’ll be doing our own whole beast butchery. We’re gonna bring the Sous-vide out. A lot of curing and preserving. We’re really going to apply the concepts behind Slow Food to this menu.
20×49: Are there any chefs who’ve inspired what you’re doing?
AF: Sean Brock (of Charleston, South Carolina restaurant Husk) paved the way for innovative Southern cuisine. We’ve got Chef Cory Bahr (of acclaimed Monroe restaurants Restaurant Cotton and Nonna) right down I-20, which is a big inspiration because he’s doin’ it in Monroe. Seeing these guys succeed in smaller towns makes you realize that Louisiana has the capability to do [farm-to-table] in smaller towns, not just in New Orleans.
20×49: How would you say that Shreveport-Bossier influences what’s on the plate?
AF: We have really great sweet potatoes here, great collard greens. The farmers’ market is big, there’s Bradley Sweetcorn and Mahaffey Farms‘ pork – that’s the best pork that money can buy. There’s Flowing Hills Creamery, Lynn Plantation and Valencia Gardens. It’s about what ingredients are in the area, and we have really, really good stuff here.
Wine Country Bistro is one of three local restaurants (along with Zocolo and Frank’s Pizza Napoletana) that will be participating in Slow Food North Louisiana’s Terra Madre Day on Wednesday, Dec. 10. Chef Anthony Felan will be preparing a tasting menu, especially for Terra Madre Day, exclusively using locally sourced ingredients. Learn more about the meal and RSVP or share via Facebook.