I love going “behind the scenes.” And what better place than to see where all the good meat and seafood comes from, before it reaches our restaurant plates?
Maybe you’ve seen an Indian Ridge Provisions delivery truck, idling at a traffic light or on a major local road, but as with many things that don’t concern us, you probably didn’t give it a second thought. But inside that truck are some great steaks, seafood and specialty food products, very likely headed to one of your favorite Bucks County restaurants.
Recently I got to tour Indian Ridge Provisions, a family owned company that has provided proteins to the restaurant industry for over 30 years. I watched them cut and prepare fish and meat – pork, beef, chicken, veal, goat, lamb, game – in their state-of-the-art facility in Telford.
Bucking the big guys
It’s not easy for a small company to go up against the food service giants like Sysco and US Foods (you’ll see their tractor trailers at a lot of restaurants). But Brad Hinderliter, general manager of Indian Ridge, isn’t fazed.
“We aim to bring in products that are relevant, that are exciting to our customers, to chefs and the public,” he says, “and maybe things those other guys don’t carry, to give us and our customers a competitive advantage.”
Let’s start with my favorite, oysters. Indian Ridge offers oysters from almost four dozen farms, up and down the Eastern Seaboard, the Gulf Coast, British Columbia and the West Coast.
Sure, I know and love Pemaquids from the Damariscotta River in Maine, Kumamotos from Washington State’s Puget Sound, and BeauSoleils from New Brunswick, Canada. But, as I was standing in the cold oyster room, I got to knock back a Sweet Jesus from Maryland. And looking at all the boxes, I wanted to just pull up a chair and start shucking.
A cut above
Most of us see our meat or seafood either wrapped in cellophane or hot on the plate. How often do we get to see our protein actually cut by a professional, a fishmonger filleting a whole fish, or a butcher expertly carving up a steak? I got to watch Brian Gitlin, who is Operations Manager and in charge of the meat cutting room at Indian Ridge Provisions, slice up a piece of beef into filets and sirloin steaks. Notice the skill with which he easily handles the meat. Notice too that nothing goes to waste. And how sharp that knife must be!
Local Pennsylvania farms
At Indian Ridge, they strive to find the best sources of protein from around the world — and locally. Naturally raised salmon from the Bay of Fundy, no antibiotics, no growth hormones. Period. Black Angus beef and antibiotic-free poultry raised on family owned farms right here in Pennsylvania
Some of the best beef in the country is actually raised here in Pennsylvania
“Some of the best beef in the country is actually raised here in Pennsylvania,” Hinderliter explains. “We don’t have the land space that Iowa and other places in the Midwest have. We have the opposite here in Eastern Pennsylvania — a lot of people, not a lot of land. But the cattle raised here is very high quality and goes to some of the top steakhouses in New York and Philadelphia. We’re proud to be a part of that pipeline.”
What’s this all mean to you, the end consumer?
For starters, it means that if you are dining at Bowman’s Tavern, 86 West, Caleb’s American Kitchen, the Black Bass Hotel, Devil’s Half Acre or Hotel du Village, you are very likely eating product cut, aged, butchered or otherwise hand-processed at Indian Ridge Provisions.
It also means that you are benefiting from a local food infrastructure that enables our food to come from nearby, instead of hundreds of miles away. Small, family owned companies like Indian Ridge Provisions make that happen every day.
Indian Ridge Provisions
400 Emlen Way
Telford, PA 18969