Local Food’s Middle ManJul 13th, 2012 | By Cecilia | Category: guest bio, the show
It’s not surprising that John Lash has made a success of his four-year-old business, Farm to Table. With a business background, a passion for food (he’s known for creating restaurant-quality meals at home) and a spot-on idea, Lash’s company now works with more than 40 local farms to get their fresh produce, hormone-free dairy products, cage-free eggs, herbs and Wagyu and grass-fed beef to more than 80 clients in the region.
Farm to Table distributes competitively priced, locally grown farm products to restaurants, commercial kitchens, cafeterias, independent grocery stores and school districts throughout Central Texas, but Lash does not just buy and sell; he has cultivated strong working relationships with chefs, probing their needs and, in some cases, teaching them what is seasonal and what is not. Early on, Farm to Table provided a chart to restaurants of what grows when, hoping to steer some chefs into understanding the seasons in Texas. In the meantime, Lash crafted just as strong relationships with farmers and sought out and continues to seek out innovative farmers and artisans creating food products in the Central Texas area. In fact, he is something of an ambassador between the two worlds, both populated by hardworking, creative folk who are passionate about what they do. Sometimes he makes requests from chefs to farmers for specific products, and when a farm product is not up to a chef’s standard, it’s Lash who has to break it to the grower.
A longtime Austinite, Lash’s professional life has not been spent in the culinary world, but he does know his way around a kitchen, and among his friends and family is known as a pretty darn good cook. His creativity and his attention to good food have inspired his children to go into the food world. Both work for well-known chefs, one in Chicago and one in San Francisco.
Lash’s degree in finance and English from St. Edward’s University and his 15-year stint at an Austin-based international retail chain provided a background in distribution, warehouse operations and sales analyses, which helped him considerably in laying the foundation for a brand new type of business in the Austin food world, launched the summer of 2008. Earlier that year, pondering how to turn his interest in food into a career, he happened upon a radio story about a business selling locally grown produce in Michigan, and it lit a spark.
The rest, as they say, is history.