One day in 1999, Jim Weaver, chef (now chef/owner) of Tre Piani in Princeton, was lamenting the lack of high-quality, seasonal local produce available to him—when a brochure landed in his mailbox from the International Slow Food movement, which he had never heard of. After reading its manifesto “to preserve and protect local foods, local food traditions and promote a return to the dining table as a source of pleasure,” Weaver had an epiphany.
“It all clicked,” he says. “My greatest responsibility as a chef is to source good food, which was not easy to do in New Jersey back then.” But in the Slow Food ethic—fresh, local, seasonal, artisanal—he saw a path that could lead in that direction.
Weaver, now 49, wound up co-founding the Central New Jersey chapter of Slow Food. Locavore Adventures (Rutgers University Press), a kind of travelogue and sermon with more than 40 recipes, is the story of how he went about it and of the like-minded individuals he came to know and admire along the way. They are a diverse lot. Weaver visits cheesemaker Eran Wajswol of Valley Shepherd Creamery; Danny Cohen, whose Atlantic Cape Fisheries is responsible for the revival of the Cape May salt oyster; George Rude of the Griggstown Quail Farm; and produce distributor Mikey Azzara of Zone 7, among others. At the end of the process, he throws a party for all the people he’s written about. The food? Fresh, local, seasonal, artisanal—and delicious.