How Chefs Are Dealing With the Tanking Dollar

Getting creative with imported goods

At the very least, chefs are being forced to get creative, searching harder for under-the-radar items, and incorporating more domestic ingredients into their menus.

Svetlin Tchakarov, the general manager at Artisanal, said that while they're keeping the imported Dover sole at the higher price because it's a customer favorite, they're now featuring Gruet, a New Mexican sparkling wine, and looking for domestic alternatives to some cheeses.

After being forced to give up most Mediterranean seafood, Zapantis has fallen in love with the fish he gets from Long Island in the summertime. And he's happy to have discovered Wisconsin blue cheese as an unlikely alternative to feta.

"It's killing us!" says Kellari Taverna chef Gregory Zapantis about the strong euro.
Tina Zimmer
"It's killing us!" says Kellari Taverna chef Gregory Zapantis about the strong euro.

"Always in my life, I'm optimistic!" Zapantis says. "It's a problem, but the coin has two sides—this is a saying that I learned the other day. The euro is very expensive, but by buying locally, we help our own economy."

One If By Land's Hopson found an olive oil from Australia that he happens to like even better than the one he was using before, but he's stuck with his imported mushrooms and cheeses, insisting that they're too much of a treat to deny people.

Hopson acknowledges that the situation has forced him to be more resourceful: "If you don't want to charge $22 for a glass of champagne, you've got to find a less expensive label that is still giving the customer a valuable experience. You have to find the best of the rest."

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