Michael Jones has grown to rely upon farmers markets.
The owner of A Moveable Feast, a social catering company he established in 1976, Michael, 62, has always been a big believer that the food he serves should be both organic and locally produced.
“We’ve been 100 percent organic and local since the beginning,” said Michael, a regular at the MPC market. “We used to grow all our own stuff, but we have farmers markets now — which have saved us a lot of time.”
Whether it’s putting together a fancy dinner party for a client in Pebble Beach or providing more casual food for crew on a film shoot, A Moveable Feast is dedicated to serving the freshest organic products of the highest quality that Michael can find.
“In the past, a lot of our clients could care less about ‘local’ and ‘organic,’” Michael said. “But they’re starting to. Organic produce tastes better and lasts longer. It’s been an education process.”
A native of Honolulu, Hawaii, Michael got his first taste of working in a kitchen while living on a farm in Ithaca, N.Y., when he was 22. The property’s farmhouse was converted into a French auberge, and Michael said he was put to work when members of the kitchen crew were dismissed one evening by the head chef.
The experience led him to eventually travel the world and hone his craft.
His sons Brendan, 31, and Dylan, 26, work alongside him at A Moveable Feast, named the best catering company in 2008 by the Carmel Pine Cone. The business also serves a regular Monday Night Dinner at the Cachagua General Store, which is located near a number of wineries in the Cachagua (pronounced “ca-SHAU-wah”) region of Carmel Valley.
“I didn’t really get into food until I was 20,” Brendan said. “I had cooked my entire life — I was always in the kitchen helping my parents out. But it wasn’t until I went to France and decided to check it out that I really got into it. Over there, there weren’t any rules, and I liked that.”
Dylan is the ravioli maker in the kitchen, often in charge of making pasta, filling and sauces.
“We just started making pasta,” said Dylan, who estimated that be began working for A Moveable Feast when he was five years old. “We don’t do recipes much or measure anything, with a few exceptions including desserts.”
A recent entrée on the restaurant’s menu was described as “Dylan’s Sweet Potato Ravioli with pumpkin and chevre filling, chanterelles and sage butter.”
The Monday Night Dinners are a favorite of Tassajara Natural Meats owner Mark Shelley, a vendor at the MPC market as well as a nearby resident.
“Michael and I agree on so many things — a sustainable, local approach to food that blends Spanish, European and Californian Cuisine,” said Shelley, at a recent Monday Night Dinner. “If you work your way through his menu, he takes the local items that are available and treats them all in a respectful way. He has a respect for food.”
Michael encourages diners to learn more about where his ingredients come from by visiting www.realtimefarms.com and conducting a search for Cachagua General Store. The restaurant’s menu is listed and includes a description of each dish as well as the vendor or farm that provided a specific ingredient.
For example, Wild Mendocino Petrale Sole with Capers and Coke Farm’s Meyer Lemon Butter is listed as an entrée for $16. Under the dessert section, an entry includes P&K Farms Strawberries, Coke Farm Meyer Lemon Polenta Pound Cake, Michael's Cultured Creme Fraiche and Strawberry/Raspberry Coulis for $6.
Listed vendors on the site that Michael frequents at the Monterey Bay Certified Farmers Markets include Amen Bee Products, Coke Farm, Corralitos Market and Sausage Company, Davis Poultry Ranch, Minazzoli Farms, P&K Farms, Schoch Family Farmstead, Swanton Berry Farm and Vasquez Farm.
“We want our customers to know where the food is coming from,” Michael said. “Long before it was groovy to do so, we bought locally. Long before it was hip, that’s what we did.”
For more information on A Moveable Feast, call (831) 659-5100 or visit www.a-moveable-feast.com/.