By Catharine Kaufman
Chino Farms, the cognoscenti of farmers’ markets in our own Rancho Santa Fe backyard, has become a rock star in agronomy and is now a cookbook seller of famed chefs. In a nutshell, here’s the backstory and tasty upcoming events.
Tom Chino’s studies at UC Berkeley were interrupted when serendipity came calling. He was forced into the family farm business to take over the reigns from his ailing parents, who began farming the land in 1947. He and a trio of siblings became devoted hands-on farmers, whose pioneering organic practices, revolutionary hybridizations, and five-star produce offered for sale at the Vegetable Shop put them on the gourmet map for the glitterati of foodies.
Famous patrons include legendary restaurateur Wolfgang Puck, who first started using Chino’s gems to enliven Spago’s menu; Nancy Silverton, co-founder of La Brea Bakery, author, and chef/co-owner of the popular and critically acclaimed Osteria Mozza in Los Angeles; Alice Waters, pioneer of California cuisine, owner of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse, author, activist, and organic and slow food movement guru; and local locavores, such as, Rancho Santa Fe Mille Fleurs’ chef Martin Woesle, chef Carl Shroeder of Del Mar’s Market restaurant, George's California Modern in La Jolla led by chef Trey Forshee and Arterra’s chef Jason Maitland.
Although they initially focused on taking produce to Los Angeles, now you can purchase not only divine produce from Chino Farms — like Technicolor heirloom tomatoes, itzy-bitzy Brussels sprouts, exotic lettuces and sweet corn — but also gorgeous books signed by the famed authors.
Chino Farms, in collaboration with seasoned bookseller Milane Christiansen, handling sales through her Vintage Works, will host a series of celebratory literary receptions to honor the foodies who elevated Chino’s to international gustatory status.
Coming up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 11, Alice Waters will be signing her new book, “40 Years of Chez Panisse: The Power of Gathering.” In keeping with the theme of the book, the event is hospitably free to the public and will include an informal reception with wine and savory eats. As an added boon, the farm will be open for shopping.
Purchase a book at the event or pre-order by e-mailing
or calling (760) 815-1026. Chino Farms is at 6123 Calzada del Bosque. Rancho Santa Fe.
Waters’ appearance follows last month’s book-signing of Silverton’s “The Mozza Cookbook,” with San Diego co-author Carolynn Carreno also in attendance.
Silverton said she “first discovered Chino’s produce in the 1980s. I was at Spago, and Frank Chino made a delivery. I didn’t know who he was, or that Alice Waters was using their stuff. I just knew that what I was tasting was something very special, and I couldn’t wait to meet the people who had grown these things.”
“Mozza” is packed with more than 300 pages of treasures from the restaurant’s kitchen, from prosciutto-wrapped breadsticks and gnocchi with duck ragu to Nancy’s gourmet pizzas and rosemary olive oil cakes with olive oil gelato.
Silverton fans also sampled culinary collaborations with her recipes and Chino’s veggies — crostini made by Mozza chef Chad Colby, with Chino winter squash, sautéed bitter greens and smoked bacon, washed down nicely with flutes of champagne.