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California farmers and chefs tout the sprout

Brussels sprouts are winning new admirers.


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You might say, just like Rodney Dangerfield, brussels sprouts get no respect. But these days, thanks to some determined farmers and chefs, the sprout is winning new admirers.

At the forefront of the sprout revolution is chef Ted Walter of Passionfish in Pacific Grove. Located on the coast near Monterey, the restaurant offers a unique California dining experience with an ever-changing menu of the freshest produce in town. And Chef Walter is undaunted by the negative connotations brussels sprouts seem to elicit from diners--instead, he is intent on making believers out of the people who normally wouldn't touch them.

"When we hear people don't like them, we give them a free salad and almost always they'll say, 'We loved that! We've never had brussels sprouts like that.' So we just need to prepare it in a way they'll like it," Walter said.

Just a few miles up the road from the restaurant is where you'll find the Rodoni family, farming the cabbage's little cousin. Now in their third generation of farming, the Rodonis--Steve, his brother, his dad, his uncle and now even his kids--farm more than 600 acres of brussels spouts in the Moss Landing area, north of Monterey.

"Our industry was pretty much a frozen food industry for decades. But the fresh market has actually gone up in recent years. And having chefs cook with them and show people how to prepare them has really helped us in the end," Rodoni said.

So it seems like the time has come for brussels sprouts to have their day in the sun, so to speak. After centuries of being denigrated, criticized and left uneaten, the vegetable is finally seeing a renaissance among chefs, diners and even kids--all of whom are branching out a little from their regular produce choices and liking what they see and eat.

For more information about Passionfish, visit www.passionfish.net.


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