"Home of the Jersey Clam"

Press of Atlantic City

One Atlantic Cultivates Taste for the Locally Grown

 Saturday, January 23, 2010

Watch video which includes Jon Weirott’s visit to Clam Daddy’s to pick up clams for their grand opening.  One Atlantic Events Video

 

We’re on the menu!

By ERIK ORTIZ Staff Writer

Photos by Ben Fogletto

BRIGANTINE — Jon Weinrott scooped some littleneck
clams from a bucket and examined them in his hands.
The briny critters would be dressed up for one of his
events and show cased as the first course. The dish

bill-and-jon-weinrott-photo-by-ben-fogletto

would be called the Clamdaddy’s casino,

named after the Brigantine business that Weinrott was
visiting this month with other employees of One
Atlantic, the multimillion-dollar special-events center
at the top of The Pier at Caesars in AtlanticCity.

Weinrott is a modern forager, searching through thebasket-of-nj-clams-photo-by-ben-fogletto
region’s producers and suppliers for local foods
increasingly in demand.

Local sourcing is a concept that has been gaining
ground as atougher economy strains restaurants’
budgets and consumers put more emphasis on
environmental issues.

One Atlantic hosted its first corporate event a week
ago, and has booked about 45 weddings already. And
if any party is interested,they can even have a
specially designed “locavore-conscious” menu,
Weinrott said. In other words, all the food is grown
and shipped within 100 miles.

In a recent survey of more than 1,800 professional
chefs, the National Restaurant Association said that
the No. 1 biggest trend for this year is obtaining
locally grown produce. Buying locally grown meats
and seafood and the idea behind sustainability —
when restaurants employ “green” practices such as
using energy-efficientlighting or biodiesel to fuel
delivery trucks — also were at the top of the list.     bill-and-director-of-sales-for-one-atlantic

“Many restaurants are sourcing some of their
ingredients locally,and you often see chefs shopping
at farmer’s markets to create a host of better-for-you
options that today’s diners want,” Dawn Sweeney, the
association’s president, said in a statement.

For food foragers such as Weinrott, who is in charge
of catering and event services at One Atlantic, the
benefits of going local are worth it: “It enables us to

support local farmers,” he said.Before going to Clamdaddy’s,

located on the north
end of Brigantine on East Shore Drive, Weinrott and
his team visited a farm in Pennsylvania that specializes
in organic baby greens, another one in Somerset
County that sells organic eggs and organic chickens,
and one in Mercer County that has lamb shanks and
organic cheeses.

Clamdaddy’s littlenecks are farm-raised and grow in
bay waters.Next month starts the breeding stage,
owner Bill Mayer said.

Those millions of clams, which feed on a diet of
algae, can mature in four to five years. By then, they
are ready to be harvested, Mayer said, and are
collected fresh when a customer calls in an order.

“We’re planting and harvesting, planting and
harvesting,” Mayer told Weinrott. “It never stops.”

The summer season is when the restaurants in
Atlantic and Cape May counties are especially busy
and keep Clamdaddy’s hopping. About five workers
are needed to collect the clams and package them.
Mayer said he serves about a dozen restaurants at
that time.

He declined to talk specifically about his finances, but
said sales were “a little bit slower” last year because of
the economy.

Rick Moretti, owner of Rick’s Seafood House in North
Wildwood, said he gets much of his product shipped
from local growers, including Clam Daddy’s. While it
would be cheaper to buy from producers in North

Carolina or other states, he said, getting his clams,
flounder and scallops closer to home is worth it. “It’s the quality and taste, but also, you don’t know
what waters they’re coming out of from some place
else,” Moretti said.The idea of using locally grown clams appealed to
Weinrott for another reason.“I think that in a social event such as a wedding,
people want to have a connection with what is served,”
he said. “Having clams from here is part of that.” In turn, he added, he wants guests — or consumers
— to become familiar with and seek out lesser-known
products that can be bought from local farmers
instead.“We can be an agent between the farmer and the
consumer,” he said. Contact Erik Ortiz:609-272-7253