Name: Linda Hampsten Fox, Chef-Owner of The Bindery
Why is sustainability in the culinary industry important to you? Sustainability is an important element in our goal to maintain quality and creativity. We do this from the bottom up. Our restaurant was built with sustainable and recycled materials, we use high efficiency and energy star equipment that save energy and water, we recycle and are part of the city of Denver’s composting pilot program. We also helped our LoHi neighborhood achieve “Sustainable Neighborhood” distinction and of course we are mindful of our sourcing and our consumption of whole animals and plants.
How do you currently Change Menus, Change Lives in your work? We are a scratch kitchen with a seasonal menu but we are also a group of innovative professionals who strive to create a unique dining experience. In that, we look at using less common cuts and proteins that are full of flavor and are fun to work with. We make all our pasta and bread by hand and have giant pots bubbling away every day that we throw scraps of vegetables and bones in for stocks. We try to utilize every bit of every ingredient that comes in the door. Rabbit bones become a clear consume with fresh pasta, croissant dough scraps become wildly delicious new pastries, bread crumbs are used on daily pastas, etc….It’s an ongoing workshop of cross utilization and innovation. Our guests are often surprised by our menu and some guests select us because of the uniqueness of our ingredients. We expose Denver to innovative and sustainable food on a daily basis through sharing our passion. My father’s family raised rabbits and pigeons, they went gigging for frogs so they had enough food to eat–this cuisine and way of eating is part of who I am.
What do you love about the Denver, CO local food community in particular? I love the camaraderie between people in the industry in Denver. Chefs supporting chefs, distributors supporting restaurants, farmers coming in and showing us what they can provide. It’s a constant conversation about ingredients, sourcing and quality.
What is one ingredient that you are excited to work with this season? I’m really excited to be working with our sustainable seafood through Seattle Fish Co. It’s been hot in Denver lately and fresh seafood is the perfect platform for our summer dishes. We’re playing with swordfish, branzino, Steelhead salmon, scallops, beautiful shrimp and halibut–all simple but high quality.
>> Your restaurant’s website says “We believe that food is a conduit for the community.” Can you expand on this sentiment that food can enact powerful change? The joy of gathering around a table with family or friends for a meal is one of the most important pieces of our daily lives. That fact is undeniable and has been true for centuries. Food is a cultural force, not just fuel and we know more about food now than ever before. At The Bindery we are cooking with attention which helps our guest eat with attention. Our changing world, from droughts to floods and fires are the result of a environment that is out of balance. We also know more information about health and nutrition. Not only do we need to be smart and mindful with how and where we get our ingredients, but also need to recognize the people and purveyors who work hard at doing the right thing. I think this attention to detail, not just on the plate, is where it all begins. Involvement and attention is how change happens and how food brings a community together.