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Local Chefs Launch Virtual Pantries Stocked With Organic, Farm-Fresh Food

Our farmers’ markets may be on hold, but Crave Culinaire, The French and other groups are making sure you can still get fresh, local food.

BY April 1, 2020
Courtesy The French Naples

We’ll admit it—our hearts sank a little after Governor Desantis announced a hold on statewide dine-in services (didn’t everyone’s?). To ensure that the community would still be fed and businesses would continue to thrive, Southwest Florida’s restaurants stepped up to the challenge. Many opted to take their businesses curbside, creating the same meals we love, packaging them up and running them out to our cars. Others elevated the service by adding carryout and delivery options.

Now other food purveyors are stepping up and getting creative in how they keep Southwest Floridians fed, while supporting local food producers.

Crave Culinaire, the go-to catering company of the social season, just launched Crave Pantry, a grocery pickup and delivery service, with premium and locally sourced foods, as well as essential household items (toilet paper, paper towels, hand sanitizer). To make this happen, Crave’s Brian Roland partners with the Rolodex of farmers and other local favorites, including Norman Love Confections, Juicelation, Estero Bay Olive Oil and Tea, Epiphany Gluten Free Bakery, and Belgian Yummies.

Courtesy of Crave Culinaire

You can stock your grocery list with everything you need to make standout meals at home (including Norman Love dessert), while supporting local artisans and shops. The virtual pantry gives you the option to add beer and chef’s-choice wines to your order, which Roland’s team will select to pair perfectly with the ready-to-cook filet mignon, Atlantic salmon, shrimp or locally-sourced vegetables you may order.

For those not looking to cook, Crave Culinaire has also enhanced its Crave2Go meal delivery service, which kicked off last year. New items and family-sized portions have been added to the menu to accommodate families during the pandemic, and all options can be easily heated and enjoyed from home. 

Chef Vincenzo Betulia of The French is also streamlining the grocery shopping process. On The French’s Facebook page or website, you can shop a

Courtesy The French Naples

menu of individual groceries with the same quality standards the restaurant uses, as well as prepared meals, lunch boxes, dinner packages and batched cocktails. The groceries are sourced from the same places The French sources its quality menus, including regional farmers like Colusa Farms and Farmer Mike’s U-Pick, in Bonita. After placing an order through email or over the phone, you can either stop into the restaurant to pick up the goods or opt for free delivery right to your door. 

Despite completing renovations at the same time dine-in services ceased in Florida, The Seaside Bar and Grill in Bonita Springs quickly switched gears to service its customers outside the dining room. In addition to offering ready-to-eat meals and a “Take & Bake” menu designed to feed a family of four, the restaurant also launched a safe and convenient grocery service for the community. Those who are weary of making the trek to the store can place an order online by Wednesday each week for essential items like milk, soup, chicken and even toilet paper. The orders will be ready for pickup each Friday.

We hope to see more of this roll out in the coming weeks, as our community looks to ever more ingenious, convenient ways to support local farmers and eat sustainably.

As things are constantly changing during this coronavirus pandemic, please call the businesses or check their social media for of-the-moment updates.

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