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Farm-to-Table Talk with Richard Arthur

We recently sat down with Richard Arthur, the Restaurant Manager at the Farmhouse Restaurant here at Fair Oaks Farms. We spoke about the importance of farm-to-table food and the unique culinary experience that is offered at the restaurant.

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What’s your favorite dish on the menu and why?
Rich: There are quite a few favorites. If I had to name one, it would be the Espresso Crusted Pork Ribeye. First of all, it’s the best quality pork chop I have ever experienced. I know exactly where the pig was raised. We use a ground espresso/spice blend rub, grill it to order, then drizzle with honey. Mouthwatering for certain.

What is the most popular dish with guests and why?
Rich: Dishes that showcase our Fair Oaks Farms dairy products, local pork and beef are the most popular. Our Bacon Sampler, cheese curds, pork chops, ribs and burgers are very popular. We also serve a “world class” pizza here! In addition, we feature many craft beers and spirits that are produced locally. Our guests are very interested in things they can’t get back home.

Are there any new & exciting dishes coming soon? What are they?
Rich: We’re reviewing a menu change and update for the fall that should be in place by October 1. We have featured “Pig Wings” several times this summer on our Weekly Specials menu. It’s a very popular item with our guests, and we should see that on the new menu. They are pork shanks, marinated and smoked, then lightly breaded and fried. Delicious!

What’s your favorite thing about working at Fair Oaks Farms?
Rich: Well, there are two things.. I get the opportunity to meet people from all over the globe. It’s amazing how our guests travel from very, very far away to visit Fair Oaks Farms and The Farmhouse. Once they’re in the restaurant, it’s a privilege to have the chance to show them what we do here. Secondly, I’m lucky to work with some very passionate people that have a sincere interest in the dairies, other venues, and Fair Oaks Farms in general.

Are there any secret ingredients in any of the foods? Can you give us a hint as to what they are?
Rich: We’re happy to share recipes with any guest that’s interested. We get requests all the time for our mac & cheese, meatloaf, espresso rub, rib seasoning and many other recipes. So, no secrets here.

Who has been your favorite guest over the years?
Rich: That’s a tough one. Our job here is to make people happy. I enjoy meeting our hardworking local farmers just as much as the many guests we have from Chicago, California, Indianapolis and all over the world.

Why do you think farm to fork food is important?
Rich: It’s all tied in with the transparency concept here at Fair Oaks Farms. We know where our food comes from. That allows us to produce high quality food seven days a week. For example, the pork we serve in the restaurant is raised two minutes from here. We work closely with local producers, and know the care they give their animals.

How has using local, fresh ingredients changed the way you cook/work?
Rich: It gives myself and all our staff a very high level of confidence about what we serve here. We know where our food comes from. That’s very important. Our staff is very passionate about educating our guests and enhancing their experience here.

What do you think sets The Farmhouse apart from other restaurants that use local, fresh ingredients?
Rich: We all share the belief that knowing where your products are raised or grown offers a higher level of confidence about the quality of food served in a restaurant. Most “farm to table” restaurants are fairly small. At the Farmhouse, we can accommodate 300 guests! Because of our very talented staff, we are able to deliver the same quality as a 50-seat restaurant — that gives us the opportunity to give many guests a great experience.

Have you ever been on an Adventure? What’s your favorite part?
Rich: Yes, I’ve visited all the venues here at Fair Oaks Farms. I’ve also gotten to know many of the dairy operators and am extremely impressed with the sincere care they give their animals. On the “fun” side, the milking carousel at Prairie’s Edge Dairy is always very entertaining.

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You can find menus, hours of operation, and all about the Farmhouse Restaurant’s special events, by accessing the website here.

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