Fresh and local at the New Moon Cafe
Special to The Union
If there were an Academy Award for supporting local farmers, chef Peter Selaya could easily take the honors.
As a longtime restaurateur in Nevada City, he was utilizing our local farm resources long before they became the most fashionable item to dress a plate.
Peter and his partner, Buzz Crouch, opened the New Moon Cafe in 1997. They purposefully chose their location a block off of Broad Street in order to cater primarily to the local clientele.
Still, today about 80 percent of their business is from local business people and less from the tourist trade. “We are so lucky to be doing something we love, and we’re grateful for our loyal customers,” Buzz commented.
Peter started working in a kitchen at age 7 with his dad, Peter Selaya Sr., and hasn’t quit since. (Well, maybe on an occasional Sunday.)
Practically a permanent fixture in town, he opened his first restaurant in Nevada City with his parents in 1979. Then started the Posh Nosh in 1980 and also cooked for many years at Friar Tucks, Flour Garden, and Selayas.
When Peter sits down to talk about food, his mind moves as fast as a sous chef before a dinner rush. He’s passionate about his opinions, and they’re backed by a lifetime of experience. “It’s important to Buzz and I to really support our local agriculture. We’re all in this together. Besides, local harvested food is at its zenith in nutritional quality and at its peak in flavor.”
Just a few years ago acquiring locally grown, organic produce was almost unheard of. Farmers like John Tecklin of Mountain Bounty Farms are deeply appreciative of Selaya’s long time interest. “Peter and Buzz really helped me stabilize my income on the farm a few years ago,” John commented. “They bought enough on a regular basis that I could begin planning so much of each crop and develop my farm.”
These days Selaya has a variety of farmers who keep him supplied ” Riverhill, Bakbraken Acres, Loma Rica and others.
Bluebird Farms has focused recently on providing more winter crops and extending the season.
Seleya’s fish comes from a Colfax fishmonger, Fish Daddies. From them he is able to buy oysters from Tomales Bay, halibut from the Farallon Islands, and clams from Washington.
Lamb comes from the James Ranch in Penn Valley and his beef from a rancher in Susanville. Even the desserts at the Moon are created from local apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries and a secret source of wild blackberries.
In keeping with their goal to support the local community, Peter and Buzz make it a priority to direct their advertising dollars more toward gift certificates and auction items that support art, music, and sports programs as well as local organizations.
They also offer each customer the opportunity to donate to local trails and environmental groups as a portion of their final check.
Paintings by local artists, Lee Ann Brook and Jill Mahanna accent the sleek, clean lines of the blush colored dining room at New Moon. It is infused with natural light.
On a recent day at New Moon Cafe I inhaled the hunger-inducing browned butter and garlic smell coming from the kitchen and settled into my chair for the task at hand ” enjoying a mid-day salad as beautiful as it was delicious.
Patti Bess is a local freelance writer and author. She also worked as a recipe developer for Weight Watchers and Land O Lakes. Look for her upcoming cooking classes at In the Kitchen Cooking School. E-mail with questions or for more information to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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