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The Great Cheapavore Challenge

Three “locavore” chefs compete to make the cheapest locally grown grub.

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Besides minimizing your carbon footprint and reducing global warming, eating locally grown foods has become something of a blood sport in this town. Any visitor to the Union Square Greenmarket who’s been elbowed out of the way of the last pint of Tristar strawberries by a hyperaggressive octogenarian can attest to that. The catch is, eating locally can also be expensive. In an attempt to merge the locavore spirit with the cheapskate spirit, we went to three chefs—from left, Bill Telepan of Telepan, Amanda Freitag of Gusto, and Colin Alevras of the Tasting Room—with a challenge: Build a three-course dinner for two from strictly local ingredients, squandering as little money and as few food miles as possible. To keep things interesting, we pitted them against each other in a sort of ruthless penny-pinching farmer’s-market version of Iron Chef that came to be known as the Great Cheapavore Challenge. The rules: Spend no more than $25 (about the price, by the way, of a half-pound of micro pea greens at Greenmarket’s Windfall Farms), abstain from remotely sourced pantry items like olive oil, lemons, or salt, and, since these guys are such familiar faces at Greenmarket, refuse any proffered VIP discounts. The winner would be judged on total cost (of the quantity of the ingredients they used), average food miles (the distance their ingredients traveled to get to New York, the fewer the better), and the ultimate result—a meal that hopefully wouldn’t suffer from such restrictions, but rather be elevated by them.


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