Leah Di Bernardo has been a force in the Temecula Valley for years, as a caterer, an advocate for local, organic food and a leader in the local Slow Food movement. Her E.A.T. Marketplace is a restaurant, deli and smoothie/coffee bar offering creative, healthy items. It came as no surprise when she joined forces with Don Webber, who, with Harvest 2 U, provides farm-fresh food to hundreds of Temecula area residents.
Cultivating Good is the parent company for both businesses. Leah says they’re here to support the local economy – ranchers, farmers and food artisans. She believes the food system is broken, and rather than take political action she chose a “tasty, more fun way to do it. If you eat good clean food, you’re going to feel amazing afterwards!” Her goal is to provide a phenomenal place for her staff to work and she strives to treat them like family. “If you’re going to work with us, you also have to work on the farm.” She wants her staff to know how chickens are harvested, how to milk a goat and other tasks that go into providing the food they serve. She feels it gives them a deeper respect for what’s on the plate.
Leah and Don share a similar mindset. They met when he was seeking cooler space for his produce. They clicked instantly. Together they support 26 local farmers and ranchers, three are in business solely based on Cultivating Good. “It’s about being very environmentally and socially responsible” says Don. He and Leah both are firm believers in education, so much so that they presented the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association a check for $150 for their Scholarship Fund. Both believe it’s critical to connect the farm to the family.
E.A.T. Marketplace is the brick and mortar of Cultivating Good. A central location that serves “good, clean and fair food.” Don refers to it as a “third place” with first being home and second work. He sees E.A.T. as a place to let your hair down and hang out with your friends. Chef Matt Cassell has been part of the team for about a month now. He comes aboard following stops at Temecula Creek Inn, Gordon Ramsay’s London Hotel and Mario Batali’s Il Posto in New York, Daniel Bolud and the Ritz-Carlton. He’s proud to be a part of this team and says he’s never seen anything like Leah’s passion or the extraordinary produce. “The farmers come in the back door with dirt still on their hands.” It just doesn’t get any fresher. The culinary team takes field trips to farms, not just locally, but around the country. They call what they serve “beyond organic.” Former Chef Kevin Grant has launched “krafted”, a line of specialty food items including charcuterie and preserves.
Harvest 2 U and the newly launched E.A.T.@Home are both subscription programs. Harvest 2 U delivers fresh, organic produce (usually picked within 36 hours of delivery) weekly or bi-weekly. Each delivery comes with recipes for the items in the shipment. E.A.T.@Home offers several different options of lunch and dinner deliveries as well as two fitness packages.
While listening to Leah and Don, we enjoyed a scrumptious lunch with fresh salads including a potato salad with bacon, wraps, flatbreads and cookies. E.A.T. Marketplace is located at 28410 Old Town Front in Temecula and serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and a weekend brunch. They offer gluten-free, paleo and vegan choices plus craft beers, local wines and kombucha on tap. Cultivating Good is one business that truly is making a difference.
Tom Plant launched WINEormous in 2009 and is a member of the International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association. Based in Temecula, California, he offers intimate winery tours for no more than seven people. Tour details and pricing are available at www.temecula-tours.com. Call now to book your Temecula Winery Tour at (951) 907-9701! Ask about special discounts.