“I didn’t have time to think about being scared.”
On August 28th, hundreds of farms in upstate New York were destroyed by massive floods caused by Hurricane Irene. No one predicted the flood water would come as quickly as it did, nor the amount of water and force that accompanied it. This is one farmer’s story: Meet David and Denise Lloyd of Maple Downs Farm, a small dairy farm in Middleburgh, NY.
David & Denise have been farming all their life. They make a living raising heritage breed Holstein cattle to supply not just fresh local dairy to our markets, but prized genetics across the world. The day of the hurricane, they lost everything: crops, cattle, equipment, homes. Right now, they are just trying to survive.
Last week, I drove three and a half hours upstate to tell their story because I know that New York City wasn’t spared by the hurricane. When you think about it, this is farmland that feeds New York, farmers that work the land and tend to their animals so we all can eat locally. If these farms don’t recover, we will see direct implications on our plates. Again, this is just one story of hundreds out there. I’ll do my best to bring you more stories over the next few weeks. And if you’re interested in helping out in any way, please feel free to leave a comment or contact me. I’d love to help organize something.
**A big thanks to Dean Sparks (@OrganicNYmilk1) for helping me to get access to these farmers. Dean knows quite a bit about what has happened to farms in that area, so feel free to contact him too with any questions.
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Meet, Erin Evenson, a legal assistant for an international law firm by day, and an award-winning competitive home cook by nights and weekends in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. Erin is a self-proclaimed “food dork”. She buries her nose in cookbooks and happily spends 100% of her spare time day-dreaming, crafting and developing recipes to compete with. But not just any recipes, her specialty is giving dishes a New Nordic, Scandinavian twist – adding a little love and respect for her family’s heritage into every main stage battle, hoping to expose more people to a cuisine she’s passionate about. Erin will compete this weekend at the Food Experiments National Championship in Brooklyn, pitting competition-craving home cooks from across the country against each other for an all out “perfect bite” cook-off.
I found Erin through Theo Peck, a co-founder of the Food Experiments. Sniffing out a story, I asked him if there was a “team to beat”, and Erin Evenson first came to mind. He told me she’s quite a character, a seasoned competitor who makes the most amazing, interesting and compelling dishes – and for the championship, she somehow sourced 150 Atlantic cod tongues from a commercial fisherman in Bay Ridge. Well, ladies and gents, that’s all I needed to know.
I met with Erin this past Sunday at her apartment, and filmed as she was testing out batches of her seafood concept. Immediately, I was touched by the utter merriment she brings to the kitchen: “Moreso than anything, what I learned from that very first competition I entered in 2006, the joy is feeding someone and making them happy, and it’s absolutely, first and foremost, my intent when I cook this food.” So enjoy this sweet, little peek into the life of a competitive home cook. She’s confident. She’s serious. And, man oh man, can she do mean things with cod tongues.
Thanks so much for watching and supporting food. curated.! Telling stories is my passion. Happy Eating!
“Last year we had way more produce than we could use, so this year, we tried to scale back a little bit to hit the sweet spot a little more closely.”
Meet George Weld, the owner/chef of Egg, a friendly, neighborhood restaurant in Brooklyn, New York focusing on farm-to-table southern cuisine. At Egg, the word “comfort” isn’t taken lightly, and diners who want a taste of the South done authentically and simply know to come, and keep coming back here. They’ve got homemade buttermilk biscuits & gravy, heaping servings of the tastiest grits, juicy fried chicken, Carolina kale, pulled pork, hot ham, pimento cheese and, of course, eggs, lots of eggs. Up until three years ago, the restaurant worked closely with local farmers to provide the fresh produce featured on their seasonal menus. Now, they are able to provide almost all the vegetables they need for their dishes from their own 6-acre farm, Goatfell Farm, located 2.5 hours from the restaurant in upstate New York – a personal, passion project that George had been thinking about for many years.
George bought and started Goatfell Farm because he wanted to reconnect to land and agriculture, a relationship he recalls from childhood, but lost through the many years of city life. For him, it’s not a vanity project, it’s a project where he feels the restaurant can make a real difference in not only providing wholesome food to his customers, but in providing education to himself and his staff on the difficulties and rewards of food production. And, farming his own land hasn’t been easy, George says, “I think what I learned since we started doing it, both, that it’s really hard, and that people who decide to run big, successful produce operations are geniuses.”
Does he think all restaurants should have a farm? No. He doesn’t believe it’s morally superior to having a restaurant that doesn’t have a farm. It’s just something George wanted to do and had to do because of his desire to have a closer relationship to food. As you’ll see from the story, it’s taught him enough to know that this is the start of something he plans to keep doing for decades – not only at Egg, but in a new farm-to-table restaurant he’s planning.
135 N 5th Street, Brooklyn, New York 11222
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“Ultimately, I hope our customers have a great experience. I hope it cools them down. I hope it reminds them of their youth. And, most of all, I hope they avoid brain freeze…”
Meet Alex Rein, the founder and CEO of Kelvin’s Natural Slush Co., an adult-friendly frozen slush company founded two years ago in New York City. According to Alex, his slushes are far better than anything you can get at a local convenient store, featuring base flavors and pureed fruit mix-ins designed for mature taste buds. Basically, a pretty compelling reason to relive your childhood without the embarrassment of holding an actual 7-11 Slurpee cup. And in the heat of summer, there’s nothing more refreshing than these beautifully layered, icy drinks.
Thanks so much for watching food. curated.! Happy drinking!
“Because our industry is relatively small, we’ve developed a close relationship with a lot of different characters both on the buying side and the selling side, and there’s probably no better example than Saul Zabar. He’s definitely one of the last remaining members of the ‘old guard’. He’s a book of knowledge and kind of a historian of smoked fish.” -Adam Caslow, Vice President, ACME Smoked Fish
Meet Saul Zabar, the co-owner of Zabar’s, a famous specialty food shop on the Upper West Side of New York City. Over the decades, Zabar’s has developed a reputation for high quality product and service when it comes to smoked fish. Their smoked fish department is one of the busiest fish counters in the city, hand-slicing and selling thousands of pounds of smoked fish to loyal customers every week. It’s a reputation Zabar’s is very, very proud of; and Saul believes a lot of it has to do with his keen taste for smoked fish.
Not long ago, I had the rare opportunity to join Saul during his weekly visit to ACME Smoked Fish in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, to see how he hand-selects fish for his shop’s fish counter. ACME is Zabar’s main smoked fish supplier – sourcing, smoking, packaging and delivering over 90% of the store’s smoked fish. According to ACME, it’s a “family” tradition and a very special relationship that began over 50 years ago, a weekly visit that often comes with a basket of Zabar’s fresh bagels and rugelach. A tradition they are both sure will continue for years to come…
So, enjoy this special behind-the-scenes experience. You can think of it as: a little taste of history.
Thanks for watching food. curated.! Happy Eating!