Musi’s take on a totally-local cheesesteak by sourcing & partnering with local businesses
A cheesesteak, but make it local.
The Frizwit cheesesteak has gained a cult following from its ingredients, including its delicious cheese sauce. But their take that makes their classic cheesesteak special is their local angle by ditching the industrially sourced ingredients.
Frizwit, Musi’s “sibling” restaurant, hopes to inspire others to think critically about their food and where it comes from.
The Frizwit, along with the other sandwiches they make (Shroomwit- the mushroom equivalent of the Frizwit and the Pork & Greens) all follow the same sourcing practices that align with their greater mission. Musi sources locally by working directly with either farmers or farm cooperatives including Lancaster Farm Fresh, Green Meadow, Primal Supply, Merzbachers, Two Locals Brewing, and Mycopolitan.
Their shroomwit and the vegan shroomwit don’t pile in fake meat substitutes, but instead make a great sandwich with sourcing.
Frizwit has switched to become a monthly pop up on the last Monday of the month, since Musi operates out of the same space and is open Thursday to Sunday.
Musi’s Nora Vaughan, General Manager and sustainability manager, spoke with Green Philly about Musi’s sustainability goals and their approach to sourcing non-industrially.
How does Musi source locally?
We source locally by staying beholden to the season that we’re in. We source a lot of our ingredients from Pennsylvania farms and we want our food to travel as few miles as possible and to really support the local food system.
This also gives us the opportunity to work with other small Pennsylvania based businesses like Primal Supply and Lancaster Farm Fresh who have very similar outlooks and missions of food. For things like olive oil ingredients that obviously don’t grow near us, we work with other small farms in California.
You have a different take on the cheesesteak. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Cheesesteak have the same core components of your roll, your steak, your cheese and your onions and give or take a few things. Our cheese steak isn’t different based on the ingredients. But conceptually, it’s pretty different.
We approach this seemingly simple sandwich with the same care and consideration that we approach food at Musi. We are the only cheesesteak shop, as far as I know, that sources all non-industrial ingredients.
Everything that goes into our cheesesteak connects us and grounds us to Philly and the network of farmers around us. The small businesses that we work with in terms of getting our meat from Primal Supply and having Merzbachers bake our bread. That further connects us. So that’s our different take on the classic cheesesteak.
Can you talk about how at Musi, local is sustainable?
We really focus on supporting Pennsylvania’s farms, which strengthens the local food system. This helps build resiliency, adaptability and also community. A lot of these small farms that we work with aren’t using ridiculous pesticides or participating in monoculture farming which has other detrimental environmental effects.
By supporting these local farmers and ranchers, we have very similar approaches to food. They approach food that align to our values and missions really helps us see that local is sustainable.
Are you guys working on any other sustainability projects?
We generate very little waste.
Of all the ingredients that come through our restaurant, we throw away as little as possible. That’s how we look at zero waste, which we equate to sustainability. Things like herb stem, something that other people may throw away, we make into this green oil, which then yields this very oily fibrous byproduct. But then that’s used in some of our sauces and in our pasta doughs to create really herbaceous emerald doughs. We really try and repurpose as much as we can – our citrus vines, we collect them, freeze them and process them into marmalade. We also make great use of our dehydrator.
So, all the ends and pieces of vegetable skins – we dehydrate and make powders, and then reintroduce that into new dishes. We try and keep everything as closed-loop as possible. We’re really not throwing anything away. We are part of the first cohort of the Philly Food Waste Business Challenge.
We are BYO so all of the glass bottles people bring to Musi are recycled through Bottle Underground. We recycle most of our cryovac bags through a special recycler as well. As far as upcycling food waste, we try to use as much as we can.
When your employees come on board, are they educated in terms of the importance of sustainability?
Yeah. A lot of people seek us out and work for Musi because they have similar values and missions in terms of how they approach food. We also see it as a great learning opportunity and helping other people understand why we are approaching food this way. There’s a lot of learning that we can all do from each other. We have new people come on, just sharing ideas and seeing the different ways that people save food and repurpose food. There’s a lot of building upon each other.