Profile: Lucia Watson

Lucia Watson

Owner and chef at Lucia’s, 1432 W. 31st St.

Lucia Watson, an award-winning chef and restaurateur,  is one of the most influential people in the local food movement. She’s been a strong champion of sustainable, local food for more than two decades. Besides her popular Uptown eateries — Lucia’s and Lucia’s To Go — she’s been active in many other efforts to promote healthy local foods, including serving on the boards of the Chef’s Collaborative, Youth Farm and Market Project and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. She’s also served on the state Department of Agriculture’s Organic Task Force.

When asked what motivated her interest in local foods, she said it was “really just a greed for the best product.”

She said it’s important to add more local food into your diet for a couple of key reasons. “It’s important to know what you’re eating. [Eating local] is the simplest way to do it,” she said. “It’s healthier and you’re supporting the local economy.”

Watson recently partnered with The Cornerstone Group, a real estate company based in Richfield, on the state’s first rooftop farm. The company’s rooftop garden was designed by Ecological Gardens in north Minneapolis.

Lucia’s restaurants have been using produce from the rooftop garden — including heirloom tomatoes, carrots, chives and radishes, among other vegetables.

While many in the city — particularly in Southwest — have access to a lot of local food options, there’s still a problem for many folks.

“Most people can’t cook,” she said, suggesting everyone should be able to master some basics: an Asian stir fry, a pasta dish, a soup and a salad dressing.