When it comes to buying local, Jed Hoffman is an avid supporter of farm-to-table food. Hoffman, 28, is the chef at Trostel’s Dish, a contemporary restaurant in Clive, where he implements local ingredients into his ever-changing menu and weekly specials. We were able to speak with him for a few minutes — between signing checks to stock the bar and preparing for the evening rush — about how he got started, and why buying local is so important.
Q: How did you get started?
I’ve been in the hospitality business since high school, where I worked in movie theaters part time. After graduating, I went to UNI for a bit and thought I wanted to be a teacher. Then I had an “ah-ha” moment — as cheesy as that sounds — where I thought, “I think I could do that.” It sounded like fun. I went to what is now the Iowa Culinary Institute (formerly DMACC’s culinary program) and then moved up to Minneapolis for a few years to work around and see what I could learn. Minneapolis had a vibrant farm-to-table scene. In the past four years, Des Moines’ independent restaurant scene has grown exponentially. I think consumers are realizing what they want. They want more of a dining experience, rather than just food in your face.
Q: What’s the most important tool in the kitchen?
The ingredients you use are the most valuable tool in any kitchen. It makes my job so much easier when a vendor gives me great ingredients to work with. The most important tool after that is a good chef’s knife — it’s the foundation for everything you have to do in the kitchen.
Q: Where do you like to eat in Des Moines?
I find that people in this line of business tend to go where their friends work, and then you get in a rut. I love Americana. Sbrocco will probably be where I go on my next night off.
Q: Why is local so important to you?
It’s important for the local economy. It’s important to support the people in our area. It’s a freshness factor. At the supermarket, if you pick up a tomato, it doesn’t taste like anything. Many people don’t even know what a real tomato tastes like. They’ve been tweaked so much that it’s not really even a tomato anymore, it’s just something that looks like a tomato. The ability to have something that was just growing yesterday is great.
Q: What is a bit of advice you can offer aspiring chefs?
If you can see yourself doing anything else, do that. Just kidding. Really, cooking is all about the experience. Get as many experiences as you can in as many varied areas as possible, and that will help you later on.
Find it: 12851 University Ave., Suite 400, Clive
Hours: 4 to 9:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Info: 221-3474; dishtrostels.com