Gerald Hirigoyen

Farmers Markets Remind Chef of His Native France

July 1997 — Gerald Hirigoyen, head chef and proprietor of Pastis, which according to the Bay Guardian offers “a sleek and streamlined version of Provence,” grew up with farmers markets. In his native France, shopping at farmers markets is a way of life.


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It’s a tradition, to be sure, that many in France fear is threatened by the growing popularity of the relentlessly convenient super-marche. But Hirigoyen, author of a cookbook, Bistro: The Best of Casual French Cooking, doesn’t buy that. “Farmers markets will always have support. They offer an experience that you can’t get at the supermarket,” he says.

Witness the fact that in the United States, the birthplace of the supermarket. Farmers markets are taking off. “Americans are trying to create that tradition here,” he says.

Time permitting, he likes to relive the old days of his childhood by taking strolls through the Ferry Plaza Farmers’ Market, not necessarily in his professional capacity as head chef at Pastis restaurant but as a sightseer, out to soak up the inspiration that emanates from an open-air market. He also has participated in the Ferry Plaza market’s “Shop with the Chef” program, giving cooking demonstrations that feature produce in season.

Hirigoyen never goes to the farmers market with a shopping list. “I just pick up things as I see them,” he says. His favorites in mid summer are tomatoes and summer squash. But he doesn’t favor any particular variety of either. “There are too many tomatoes. It’s hard to keep up with them all,” he laughs. What’s important is that they are fresh and taste good. “If it tastes good, I buy it,” he says.

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