Corina Weibel goes grocery shopping just like anyone else. She puts a list together every Sunday based on what she thinks she’ll need for the week. When she starts to shop, she crosses things off as she goes. But her grocery list isn’t of the Post-it variety. It’s more of the two-page spreadsheet type. There is no gondola shelving or frozen food section where she shops, and instead of a shopping cart she pushes a (well-used) two-wheeled dolly stacked with crates. As the chef of Canele in Atwater Village, California, Weibel cooks for TK people a week. She must shop accordingly, and she does so every week at the Santa Monica Farmers Market.
“I would say 95% of the produce I use comes from the Santa Monica Farmers Market,” Weibel says. We had just shaken hands and introduced ourselves. Weibel agreed to take me around the market while she made her weekly shop. So we met at the intersection of 2nd Street and Arizona Avenue. It was 8am on a Wednesday, the biggest day for the market and the market Weibel and many chefs consider the heartbeat of LA’s restaurant pulse.
“LA is centrally located, so we get farmers in from all different microclimates. That’s the luck we have at this market. Farmers come from all over the state and it gives us such a variety of produce.”
Weibel’s first stop is Coleman Family Farm. “This is Romeo,” Weibel tells me, introducing us. “He’s Bill and TK’s son.” Romeo’s hand dwarfs mine. He’s tall, and his smile is wide and genuine. “Their farm is up in Carpinteria,” Weibel says, “near Santa Barbara, about two hours away.”