At Pono Farm, made-from-scratch is that homey phrase we’ve all heard and it usually conjures up memories of mom’s apple pie. The handcrafted style of cooking, though, is also finding favor with many chefs seeking to honor ingredients in authentic, sustainable ways. In Central Oregon, Ted and Shin Nakato, third generation members of a restaurant family and owners of Pono Farm, were seeing a decline in quality ingredients. So they took control of their meat source.
Ted tells The Local Dish, “Over the years, we saw a decline in the integrity of ingredients available to restaurants. We saw this as a trend that was only getting worse with all the factory farms and widespread use of GMO’s.
We wanted to try our hand in producing good meat raised in a natural manner without using steroids, administered hormones, or antibiotics.”
“We grow our animals slowly over a longer period to build up the intramuscular fat, which leads to better tasting meat. We were hoping to produce a better product for our customers by overseeing the entire process: from gestation, birthing, raising, finishing, butchering, and cooking. That is why we decided to use the Hawaiian word “Pono” to define our operation. It represents what we are trying to do with our farm to table food.”
The brothers have been farming in Central Oregon for 17 years and opened Pono Farm and Fine Meats in 2011, the butcher shop and kitchen located in Bend where they also offer a rotating menu of sandwiches and plate specials.
They started with a few head of cattle and grew the herd steadily over the years. Now they have over 400 head of cattle and also raise heritage hogs and egg-laying hens, enough to supply the restaurant and butcher shop in Portland, as well as the butcher shop and lunch counter in Bend, and then some.
Their meats were recently featured at Wild Rose Thai Restaurant in Bend, known in the region for their Northern Thai cuisine, and the brothers would like to partner with other chefs who appreciate high quality, grass fed and pastured meats.
Since starting Pono Farm, their Central Oregon ranching operation, a steady supply of Wagyu beef, heritage pork and eggs arrive at the Nakato’s popular industrial chic Soul Kitchen (Portland) and Pono Farm and Fine Meats butcher shops (Portland and Bend).
In the Bend shop, the butchers age the beef, break down and butcher the carcasses, and process the meats, including smoking and curing. Open since June 2014, Pono Farm Soul Kitchen also has a small selection of butcher shop items but focuses more on the Chef Vince Tien’s extensive Japanese themed comfort food that changes daily.
Pono. Farming and cooking that honors the ecosystem on which all life depends. The “made from scratch” circle is complete and diners know exactly where their food comes from.
Photo credit: Pono Farm Soul Kitchen Facebook