Since its inception, Autre Monde Café has made it a mission to care as much about its neighbors and the environment as about great food and service. The restaurant just announced it will partner with Montalbano Farms to become the first Berwyn location to offer a Community Supported Agriculture program, in which local residents can purchase a CSA share of the farm's produce and pick it up at Autre Monde.
To enroll, residents go directly to the Montalbano website to sign up. There are a variety of options for shares: fruit and vegetable, vegetable only, weekly or biweekly pickup Thursday afternoons. There is also a low-income option so that all residents who are interested may access the program regardless of income.
Owner Christine Tully Aranza notes the importance of the program for the community.
“As business owners and residents of Berwyn, we felt strongly that our mission needed to extend past what we put on the plate at the restaurant, to what is available to our residents to cook at home," Aranza says. "Montalbano’s mission to focus on CSA and its role in the health of communities and the land fit perfectly with this vision. We are thrilled that now Berwyn residents will have access to their beautiful and healthy, seasonal produce.”
Another fan of CSAs is Autre Monde chef Dan Pancake.
“We believe in the role of the local farm and its resurgence in our communities,” he says. "Much of our menu is comprised of dishes made with product from local farms. To be able to help bring this a step further by extending the availability of fresh product to the community makes us very happy.”
Montalbano Farms is run by the husband-and-wife team of Rob and Christina Montalbano. Their mission is simple: to grow food forever.
“How we achieve that goal is a big part of our story," says Rob Montalbano. "By growing healthy plants, we ensure you get the freshest, most nutritious vegetables possible. That’s good for you and good for the longterm health of the business. Using environmentally responsible methods, respecting the soil, air and water resources on and off of the farm, we work to ensure that these resources are around for generations to come. We prioritize the safe production and handling of all produce, we insist upon fair wages for all farmhands, and we view community education as a primary objective."
He notes that visitors and volunteers are welcome to arrange visits to the farm at any time to view the operations, to lend a hand with planting and harvesting, and to learn about organic agriculture.
The CSA concept is a natural for chef Beth Partridge, who grew up on a farm.
"Dan and I still own a farm that supplies some of our produce for Autre Monde, and I couldn’t agree with Farmer Rob any more."
Find Autre Monde
Located along the burgeoning Roosevelt Road Corridor on the border of Berwyn and Oak Park at 6727 W. Roosevelt Road, Autre Monde Café & Spirits is open from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and from 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday. Brunch is offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays.
“The best part of being a small business owner is to truly be able to follow your heart and bring good things to your community," says Tully-Aranza. "The CSA offering is one of the best examples of how we can do that. It's great.”
Her husband and partner, John Aranza adds, “How much better does it get than to be able to help feed your community well, whether they are eating out or staying home?”
When dining at Autre Monde, reservations are recommended and may be made by calling 708-775-8122 or visiting www.autremondecafe.net. Stay up to date with blog.autremondecafe.net, www.facebook.com/AutreMondeCafe and www.twitter.com/autremondecafe.
About Montalbano Farms
Located in Sandwich, just west of the Fox Valley, farmers Rob and Christina Montalbano own and operate a 10-acre farm at 17551 Frazier Road to supply CSA shares to a number of locales in the Chicago region. For more information, visit www.montalbanofarms.com or call 630-882-8008.