Eco-Minded Chefs Make Sustenance Sustainable

August 23, 2010 - Mother Nature News ( recently released "40 Under 40: Reader's Choice," a reader-nominated supplement to its annual list of young chefs who are passionate about farm-to-table, low-impact eating.

Four JWU alumni made the list: Greg Balch '06, executive chef of Ratcliffe on the Green in Charlotte, NC; Patrick Connolly, executive chef of New York City's bobo; Scott Gottlich '00, chef/owner of Bijoux in Dallas, Texas; and Eric Warnstedt '99, chef/owner of Hen of the Wood in Waterbury, Vt. Each of them is committed to working with local, seasonal and sustainable ingredients — and they want to share their enthusiasm with others.

Greg Balch, 25, is one of the youngest chefs on the list. After graduating in 2006 from JWU's Charlotte Campus, he decided to keep his talent local by opening his own restaurant, the acclaimed NoFo on Liz. In 2007, he became executive chef at Ratcliffe on the Green. His nightly "Farm to Fork" tasting menu showcases local ingredients from sustainable resources, many of them originating from Carolina-owned farms.

Patrick Connolly, 31, began his career at Empire in Providence. He quickly rose to executive chef at Boston's Radius, which was awarded four stars by the Boston Globe in 2006. In 2008, Connolly was won the James Beard "Best Chef Northeast" award. From there, he made the leap to New York City's acclaimed bobo, a rustic spot in the upper West Village that focuses on locally-sourced produce, cheeses and meats.

Scott Gottlich, 34, gives French classics a Texan twang at Bijoux, his upscale eatery in Dallas. Gottlich first learned to showcase unusual ingredients from Aubergine’s acclaimed chef Tim Goodell. His subsequent work with Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert set the stage for his bold French-inspired flavors.

Eric Warnstedt, also 34, showcases local, seasonal ingredients at Hen of the Wood, which is housed in an old grist mill in Waterbury's historic district. "Our menus are printed daily to always reflect a snapshot of that day in Vermont," he says. In 2008, Warnstedt was honored as one of Food & Wine's "Best New Chefs," while Hen of the Wood made Gourmet's "Top 100 Farm to Table Restaurants."