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Off the beaten path in Ojai, Calif., you’ll find The Farmer and the Cook, the realization of Steve Sprinkel and Olivia Chase’s farm-to-table dream. Since 2001, the organic vegetarian market and restaurant have offered produce from Sprinkel’s 16-acre farm and a Mexican-inspired daily menu from Chase’s kitchen.
“We use organic soybean meal as a fertilizer because of animal welfare issues and because of unknowns like GMO biology in commercial compost,” says Sprinkel, adding: “Things tend to be fresher and crisper because of our practices in the field.”
On weekends, the market’s salad/deli bar serves up salads prepped by Mio and Megumi, Japanese chefs whose repertoire includes pickled vegetables and an arame salad Mio learned from her mom. Order restaurant fare at a central counter—grilled-vegetable-and–goat cheese tacos with aji cilantro and red pepper sauces are popular—and grab a table inside a cozy area set off from the market or outside on the patio. The weekend menu features seasonal specials and pizzas, and live music plays on the patio on Sundays.
The spot’s friendly and relaxed vibe, combined with the owners’ commitment to healthful, sustainable food, has earned it plenty of regulars among the locals. “The benefit of walking your talk is invaluable,” Sprinkel says.
Hungry for more? Visit The Farmer and the Cook at 339 W. El Roblar, Ojai, Calif.