Califonia Bountiful

Striving for the perfect peach

What makes a great-tasting peach that chefs can't wait to get their hands on?

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An ancient Chinese proverb promises "eat a peach, live forever" and even to this day, the peach tree is still revered as the tree of life in Asia. All of which provides the perfect metaphor for what peaches do for chef Michelle Polzine--breathe new life into her ever-evolving dessert menu at Range restaurant in San Francisco. From tarts to cakes and even ice cream, Michelle believes each peach deserves its day in the sun and a place on her menu.

"I get extremely depressed around April because it feels like you're just waiting and waiting for the stone fruit to arrive and you know it's still two months away," Michelle said. "But once it's the end of May you have peaches and nectarines and I know there are a lot of new desserts I can put on the menu and it's all just fine."

But what makes a really great tasting peach that chefs can't wait to get their hands on? Is it the sun? Is it the soil? Or, is it the farmer? In the Central Valley one farming family thinks they have figured out the combination for growing the perfect peach.

At Blossom Bluff Orchards in Parlier, growing outstanding produce is all in a day's work. On more than 75 acres of rich farmland Ted and Fran Loewen look after some of the most prized produce seen on menus across the state. Through meticulous maintenance of the land and careful planning the family offers an assortment of unique varieties that ripen at different times, offering customers an array of sweet, exotic colors and fruits throughout the year.

Marketing all of that tasty fruit is the Loewens' son, Bryce, and daughter, Renata, who take it from farm to fork. The siblings drive the fruit from the orchards to their storage unit in Berkeley and then make deliveries to some of the most respected restaurants in the Bay Area--including Range, where Michelle is eager to get to work.

"I've worked with Fran and the whole family for five years now and they really understand what I want about fruit," Michelle said. "There are different types of fruit and different people like different things in fruit. I like high acid fruit, so they'll tell me all about it and what are the best things and at that point, I just can't wait to get my hands on the peaches."

The Loewens say they hope to ensure their fruit remains available for generations to come. That commitment assures their customers that their peaches represent 75 years of hard work and care for the land.

For more information about Blossom Bluff Orchards, visit

For more information about the Range Restaurant, visit

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