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Hunter-Gatheress

The Spotted Pig’s Annie Myers might be the city’s only official restaurant forager.

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Since June, Annie Myers, 23, has been the official forager for the Spotted Pig and, since its opening, the Breslin Bar & Dining Room. If you’re thinking of “Wildman” Steve Brill traversing the Central Park Ramble, or bearded mycologists scavenging the Pacific Northwest, think again. Myers’s role centers around the Union Square Greenmarket, where she spends four mornings a week stocking her custom-built tricycle with everything on her neatly written list (plus a constant stream of incoming texts from forgetful cooks). The role of restaurant forager was made famous by Chez Panisse, that culinary temple where sourcing is paramount to cooking, but in New York—unlike the sainted precincts of Berkeley, California—you don’t have friendly neighbors showing up on your doorstep with Meyer lemons plucked from their backyard tree. Instead, you have Rick Bishop, whose Mountain Sweet Berry Farm stand Myers hit at 7:30 one recent Saturday morning for a dozen bunches of lacinato kale. But Myers—who worked on a farm in Umbria after high school, majored in agriculture and regional food systems at NYU’s Gallatin school, and blogs about food politics at Thoughtsonthetable.wordpress.com —is more than a glorified delivery girl. She’s chef April Bloomfield’s de facto eyes, nose, and especially mouth, tasting produce and scouting out new arrivals. When it comes to preferences, though, she says, “My taste buds don’t really matter.” The forager’s role is to channel the chef’s palate—her likes and dislikes (honey, for instance, in Bloomfield’s case). Also, in nonmarket hours, to hunker down with a laptop on the Pig’s third floor to take inventory, cost-out recipes, and research potential new purveyors. On Myers’s advice, Bloomfield has bought cheese from Anne Saxelby and ham and pigs’ heads from Jake Dickson, who just opened a boutique butcher shop in the Chelsea Market. Staff meals are a particular perk. “It’s really fun to eat the food,” she says. “It’s like, ‘I bought that this morning!’ ”


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