Chef Joey Giannuzzi started working in restaurants at age 14, working his way up from dishwasher to executive chef. After 25 years he decided that he wanted to open a restaurant of his own.
In his relentless pursuit of great food, Giannuzzi began to notice a change in the “fresh” ingredients being used at restaurants. Waxy, genetically modified, and flavorless were becoming the norm. He started working with local farms and purveyors to source fresh and clean ingredients.
“I like using quality ingredients that only need a brush of olive oil or sea salt to really shine,” he says. “I like paying attention to sustainability and environmental issues that come along with procuring food. I also believe in minimal processing and demand that everything is made in-house so we know exactly what is in the food we serve and can be proud of it.”
He enjoys managing all the moving parts of the operation, he says, “I like getting my arms around the whole thing and figuring out how to manage each detail. A great chef once told me, ‘The chef who manages the most details well has the best kitchen and therefore the best food.’”
Giannuzzi believes that the restaurant’s clean approach to preparation — omitting deep fat frying, microwaving, processed foods, high fructose corn syrup and the like — will truly distinguish Farmer’s Table on the local dining scene.
“I come from a large Italian family with many aunts, uncles and cousins. We would all get together on Sundays and spend the whole day cooking—sauces, meatballs, and great Italian dishes—all wonderful comfort food. I learned techniques and recipes from my Mom and Grandmothers. In my family, only the women cooked. The men would sit around and watch football. When I later became a chef, one of my friends and I cooked a whole Thanksgiving dinner and all the women didn’t know what to do with themselves! My aunt Rosa asked if I could make her a Manhattan as they were all so flabbergasted that a guy could cook, and they had nothing to do!
“Growing up, I loved to surf. It dawned on me that if I got a job cooking at night, I could surf all day. I landed my first restaurant job at the age of 14 as a busboy at Garry’s Midway in Loxahatchee Florida. In 1990, I moved to Boca, got a job as a food runner at a different restaurant, and after a couple of months became an expediter. The chef quickly saw my passion for cooking and pulled me aside one day and told me he was going to teach me how to cook. Over the next year, I moved from the bread station to salads to salute, broiler, grill, to chef. I then worked in a number of local restaurants as a line and sous chef, met a great mentor who took me under his wing and brought me too many different restaurants under him.
“I first became an executive chef in 2005 at a noted restaurant. I was there for eight years and then in 2008 I opened my own restaurant, the Green Gourmet in Delray Beach, Florida. I wanted to be a positive influence in the community for healthy eating, and did my best to educate diners about healthy food and clean eating. I started with four seats, and then it grew into a 60 seat full service restaurant. I developed a great client base for people who wanted to know where their food was sourced and how to eat healthy. Guests would come back night after night, eating at my restaurant 7 nights a week. Still to this day, people come back and ask about the Green Gourmet, and all of them followed me to Farmer’s Table. The fan base for healthy dining in Boca is strong and devoted.”
When asked about his relations with his local suppliers, he explained that over time he’s “developed an extensive network of local purveyors: artisans who make our fresh cheeses, cured meats, local farmers who grow our produce—tomatoes, zucchinis, squash. I have great relationships with local cattle farmers and sustainable fishermen. Every single one of them is important to me, and I value our relationship highly. I take pride in these relationships—integrity and honesty is so important. And I am happy to share my list of purveyors with any other restaurateur as it keeps these hard-working farmers, cattlemen and fishermen in business. I want the world to experience and eat clean food!”
“The most important thing is that our guests at Farmer’s Table can absolutely trust the quality of our food. We will never compromise on this. We can tell you where everything is sourced and why we use this particular purveyor. Some restaurants will highlight that their chicken is free-range, or their fish is sustainable, but if you aren’t offering clean food for every item….what’s the point? We follow the Dirty Dozen chart, and buy organic produce for every fruit and vegetable on that list.”
I had food that followed his principles and it was outstanding. The Farmer’s Table is a very unusual restaurant. I tasted flavors in normally unexceptional food which delighted my senses. I had a flatbread with barbecue shrimp which was sensational, truly sensational. I tasted different flavors that were specially mixed into the dish — there was aged white cheddar, roasted corn succotash, chiffonade spinach, and avocado aioli. I swear I tasted each one of the ingredients. This restaurant is very spoiling. If you get anywhere near Boca Raton, a meal at the Farmer’s Table is a must!