The owners of Fresh Forage, chef Sam Boyce and Andrew Sereno, both grew up in Chelsea and went to high school together, graduating in 2006. After parting ways for college—Boyce to Michigan State University and Sereno to the University of Michigan—they later got together and found they had a shared vision and passion for food and the environment.
“My partner Sam and I had been wanting to start a restaurant together for a couple of years. We kicked a few ideas around, and finally found the perfect mixture of our talent, passion, and local connections! Fresh Forage is really the opportunity for us to reshape the relationship between consumer, restaurant and farm toward full-circle sustainability by respecting the seasonality of food in Michigan,” says Sereno.
Their slogan is Farm to table, fast! “It’s our mission to provide the healthiest, most sustainably sourced meals in the quickest time possible, combining fast food speed with high-end quality. We wanted to create a place where you know you’re supporting local businesses, local farms and eating healthy, while saving time in the process,” says Sereno.
“Customers know they’re getting the freshest most local ingredients possible,” explains Sereno. “We don’t use anything with preservatives, artificial colors or flavors; everything is made in-house with whole ingredients. We don’t cut any corners. Our fryer uses rice bran oil instead of canola oil and is dedicated gluten-free. We are allergen- and vegan-friendly and have ethically raised, local meats, so there is something for everybody on the menu, especially since it’s craft your own bowl style!”
The partners hold themselves to a high standard in terms of locally sourcing quality ingredients, many of which come from their own farm. “We never use products with preservatives or artificial anything. Our goal is full-circle sustainability, and we have already started by achieving zero post-consumer waste. Everything comes in fully compostable containers and we actually compost everything, it doesn’t go to the trash dump,” says Sereno.
“Every bowl we create at Fresh Forage is a work of art, crafted by the customer. We take pride in making a pretty bowl with a variety of rich, local nutritional sources. Whether it’s a chef-inspired Forage Bowl or a craft your own bowl, every bowl created at Fresh Forage is unique, especially with all the different sauce choices. We even top them with our in-house grown microgreens! The smoothies are pretty awesome too, and of course the on-tap draft kombucha is stellar,” says Sereno.
“The restaurant is just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the overall vision. We want to be an outlet for local farms to grow more food crops and know they have a place to buy their products. We already grow our own microgreens in the restaurant, and hope to start growing other crops indoors, as well. We are going to construct hoop houses and heated greenhouses on our farm, along with mushroom houses, eventually installing alternative energy sources to generate our own electricity,” says Sereno. “Anything that reduces our carbon footprint and brings our sourcing more local is the overall goal.”
Fresh Forage is located at 5060 Jackson Rd., in Ann Arbor. For more information, call 734-887-6655. Orders can be placed online at FreshForage.com.