The Dirt on the Farm: Going Beyond Farm to Table with Monterey Bay Aquarium Executive Chef Matthew Beaudin

Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Executive Chef Matthew Beaudin goes far beyond traditional farm to table principles to get as close as possible to the process and people who grow and harvest wholeness ingredients. His success is based on a desire to showcase everyone’s talent in the process from the farmer, fisherman, rancher to beekeeper.

“My Executive Sous Chef Adam Young and I have walked every farm and visited every fishery we work with. My job is to maintain the integrity of the raw ingredients they provide and essentially put our collective passion on the plate,” says Chef Beaudin. “When you tie an emotion such as the joy of the person who carefully tended the corn or raised and milks your goats, you can taste the difference in the food. You taste the love.”

Chef Beaudin developed his deep respect and appreciation for sourcing food and ingredients while making French toast in Rwanda. He had to make the bread the night before so it would be fresh but sturdy. He fetched the eggs, milked the cow and grated the nutmeg and cinnamon.

“In our modern world we take ready-made ingredients for granted, but there is a deeper appreciation to be had when you understand and connect to the toil it takes to help vegetables or cows grow,” says Chef Beaudin. “It takes a lot of heart and energy to nurture a seedling and protect it from all the elements until its peak of ripeness. That devotion is what I want to connect with and share in my cooking and community.”

Even though Chef Beaudin has run kitchens around the world, he’s found a home in California and has discovered that ingredients in Monterey County area as fresh as you can get, and there are plenty of opportunities to source locally and sustainably. He only works with people he knows personally so that his vendors have become partners, like Mike and Jane Hulm at Evergreen Acres Dairy.

Evergreen Acres Dairy raises Guernsey goats, known for increased butter and creamier milk, and provides much of the feta and cheeses that Chef Beaudin uses. “It takes our bodies up to six hours to process cow’s milk and only 20 minutes to process goat’s milk,” says Hulm. “Our job is to help people to make the connections with our food sources and educate them on what is healing and nurturing to our bodies and what is not.”

Chef Beaudin has noticed that all farmers, ranchers, fishermen take more pride in their work when they know where their product is going. He has made monumental strides in weaving together a tighter community that promotes nutrition education and sustainable practices via buying seafood in Monterey versus San Francisco, overseeing a beekeeping program at California State University, Monterey Bay for honey used at the Aquarium and developing traceability to determine when and where seafood was caught. There is also a box-free initiative with that saves approximately 50,000 pounds of cardboard monthly.

His efforts show the sustainability of food rests upon interconnected systems, each affecting and supporting each other like compatible ecosystems. “I want to touch the source of every ingredient from fish, meat to produce. We’re even collecting our own salt in Big Sur.”

Visit Chef Beaudin at the Monterey Bay Aquarium and taste the difference.

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