Maison-Prive

Last month, we reached out to our friend Shelley Smedberg, the amazing pastry chef from the late, lamented Flying Pig restaurant in Mount Kisco, to ask her what was new and exciting in the world of local food here in northern Westchester.  She didn’t hesitate with her answer.

“Maison-Privé,” she told us.

“Maze on who…?”

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“Maison-Privé.  A special catering team in Greenwich, but working in New York, both in the city and in Westchester, and in Fairfield County.  And the most special thing about them is I’m their new pastry chef!”  And with that, we really had to investigate.

Maison-Privé is the brainchild of insanely talented chefs, and married couple, Jennifer and James Vellano.  Having met in the kitchen of Per Se (after both had already staged and cooked in some of the finest restaurants in the world) they founded Maison-Privé in 2008 as a boutique catering company, specializing in custom menus.vellanossmall

What sets Maison-Privé apart, beyond the world-class talents of its partners, is the commitment to locality and sustainability in the sourcing of ingredients, and the dynamic, interconnected relationship they enjoy with farmers and farms.  Also, they’re the kind of people who, when they want a dedicated pizza oven, build one on their own instead of buying it.

To get the Maison-Privé experience for yourself, you really need to visit them at their tasting room.  Seats are limited to 12, and reservations are first-come, first-served.  Be sure to sign up for their private mailing list; that’s the best way to get in-the-know about their special events.

And don’t forget to mention that Bedford 2020 sent you.

And be sure to try one of Shelley’s desserts.  You won’t be sorry!

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A Field-Good Story

If you wandered into Little Joe’s Coffee & Books on a Friday afternoon in March, you probably noticed a collection of thirty big bags, all overflowing with heads of lettuce, loaves of artisanal bread, even jugs of cider.  If you snuck a peek into the bags, you might also have spotted local cheeses, apples, and foraged wild mushrooms.

Where does it all come from?

From farmers in the Hudson Valley, that’s where, and Field-Goods is the year-round delivery service that distributes it.  Based in Athens NY (across the river from Hudson) Field-Goods works on a pay-as-you-go weekly subscription.  With a wildly successful abundance of drop-off locations in the Hudson and Albany areas, Field-Goods made its debut in Katonah and Bedford just over a month ago.

So far, people seem to love it, and the number of subscriptions grows every week.  We’ve seen pictures of dishes made posted on Facebook and Instagram, we’ve heard lavish descriptions of Field-Goods-inspired dinner parties, and we know of one local chef who’s been incorporating her subscription into popular weekly specials.

Another thing to love about Field-Goods: you’re subscription comes with an email newsletter, and a sheet of paper in the bag, with recipes, storage tips, and lots of inspirational wisdom about what’s in the bag.  (In fact, the newsletter is called, “In The Bag.”  Clever.)

Give Field-Goods a try.  Hey: if you try it once and don’t like it, there’s no obligation to continue.  But we suspect you will…

 (Check out the short documentary, below.)

 

Outstanding In His Field

“I can’t talk long, I’ve got about 4000 sweet potato plants I’ve got to put in this week. Every minute I’m not doing that, I’m behind.”

So says Doug Decandia, who is trying to stay on schedule in his mission to grow food for the Food Bank for Westchester, which fights hunger and food insecurity in our county by maintaining a storehouse of food it distributes to over 200 local relief programs.

Doug helped form the Food Bank’s Food Growing Program, and he is personally cultivating about 3 acres of land on five separate plots in Westchester. The produce from those 3 acres will go right to the Food Bank’s storehouses.

Doug Candia

Doug has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and online journals, and they have been able to spotlight how broad the impact of Doug’s work really is. Here’s an excerpt from Chris Hunt’s 2012 profile on the website Ecocentric:

“The job involves farming, of course, but it also entails serving as a teacher and mentor because in addition to producing vegetables, the initiative is designed as a vocational program to train at-risk youths to grow food. Doug works the land alongside children who face a range of emotional and behavioral challenges, some of whom are currently incarcerated in the county’s juvenile correctional facility. Together, they grow fresh, healthful food for those who need it the most.”

2013 marks the third year of Doug’s ambitious project, and he has no intention of stopping. In fact, his ambitions for farming Westchester go far beyond the Food Bank, He’d like to see the whole county farming, for private and public resources.

As he told KatonahGreen’s Heather Flournoy when she profiled Doug last year: “”You know, there’s no reason we can’t produce a lot more of our food right around here. Those big lawns could all be turned into productive farms.”

Don’t be surprised if this local food hero shows up at your door someday, offering to farm your lawn. Bravo, Doug!

Mimi Edelman: Farmer

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Photo credit: Tanya Savayan

If you’ve enjoyed African blue basil or stinging nettles in your dishes in past seasons at farm-to-table inspired restaurants such as Bedford Post or Restaurant North, there’s a good chance they started out in the fields of I & Me Farms in Bedford. Which means they got to your plate through the loving work of Mimi Edelman.

Mimi farms four acres off of Wood Road (on land secured through the Westchester Land Trust’s land match program), specializing in heirloom vegetables and unusual herbs, along with a more traditional mix of lettuces and vegetables.

Fingers are crossed that all those items will be back this year, but nothing is guaranteed. I & Me farm took a direct hit from Sandy last year, and the damage was extensive, not just to the crops and the soil that supports them, but to the infrastructure of the place. Fences, posts, wires… almost all of it was rendered useless by the impact of the storm.

The farm is rebuilt now — with help from grants, other farmers, and lots of good folks in the community — and planting in the fields is underway. Of course, rebuilding isn’t a new experience for Edelman; she took a big hit from Irene, too. But, as she told the Journal News last spring:

“Whatever challenges there might be, they’re kind of offset by what you get in return. There are not many jobs you can go to where the job actually revitalizes you.”

In addition to full-time farming, Edelman is one of the leaders of Slow Food Metro North, the local chapter of Slow Food USA, which is itself part of the global movement Slow Food International, based in Italy. Through Slow Food, she is responsible for creating fun and educational food-based events in Westchester, Fairfield, and beyond: restaurant dinners, farm tours, networking events for farmers and chefs, and the awarding of Slow Food’s cherished “Snail of Approval” awards for those who make our food system better.

Want to learn more about I & Me or Slow Food? Send the farmer an email!