Industrial Eats owner/Chef Jeff Olsson has been cooking from locally sourced, organic ingredients long before “farm-to-table” was born. In the late 80s, deep in Amish farming country in Pennsylvania, Tuscarora Organic Growers co-operative took root, supplying restaurants in the Washington D.C. area with locally grown, organic produce. This co-op helped keep small farms afloat by coordinating crop production to complement each other rather than compete. Restaurants had more varied produce and farmers made more sales.
Jeff Olsson has been cooking for a long time in Santa Barbara wine country. Before that, he cooked with various acclaimed chefs for an even longer time all over the U.S. Learning delicious lessons from them all, he brought his skills and know-how right here to the most gorgeous wine country in California.
While cooking at Miller’s Red Sage and Restaurant Nora (the first certified organic restaurant in the U.S.) Olsson felt lucky to have access to such diverse produce grown organically nearby, and remembers faxing his orders to the co-op. This kind of farm-to-restaurant link was radical at the time, where chefs could even tell farms what they’d like planted for next year. or Olsson, this kind of food just tastes better – it’s great because it was in the ground 36 hours ago.
Now at his Buellton restaurant, most everything is sourced locally, including pork. He sources heritage breeds like Kunekune, Mangalitsa and Berkshire crosses exclusively in Santa Barbara county, where the pigs are raised humanely. Butchering and curing is done in-house, with Valley Piggery even helping teach a Butchering class in Olsson’s kitchen one weekend every 2 months. Restaurant cuts from the class are used in the dishes.
Part restaurant, part retail shop, part butcher shop and classroom (you too can learn how to properly butcher a whole pig!), this funky space has a warm, homey feel and serves up gourmet comfort food like chicken livers with guanciale and capers on crostini, beef tongue pastrami sandwiches and spicy shrimp al ajillo with pancetta, chiles and garlic.
There are also interesting pizzas, bursting with flavor, local salads and perfectly seasoned vegetables. The dishes are simple, savory and most often cooked in one of two wood-burning pizza ovens right on the dining floor. They’re washed down with local beer and wine on tap, which allows one to taste the upcoming vintage in a fresh and economical way. Several dessert choices and plenty of exotic cheeses round out the selections. The diner is in heaven.
The Carbonara Pizza (or Breakfast Pizza before noon) features pancetta from those local pigs, Parmesan cheese, a seasonal vegetable and a farm egg on top. To make the dough, Olsson uses only 4 ingredients: Italian 00 pizza flour, yeast, water and salt – anything more only brings the quality down.
After kneading, he lets it rise in the fridge for 24 hours. He then stretches the dough by hand, spreads olive oil across the top, then adds salt and pepper, Parmesan cheese, pancetta and vegetables. He cracks an egg in the middle and slides it into an 800 degree wood-burning oven for 4-7 minutes. To cook at home, place a cast-iron skillet upside down in your oven and turn the heat all the way up. When the skillet is hot, cook the pizza on the skillet for 10-12 minutes or until dough is done.