What’s Cooking?

Nancy Polo and Chef Kimber Herron at the Cooking Class Debut

Nancy Polo and Chef Kimber Herron at the Cooking Class Debut

Our September 2nd cooking class debut was a success.  We had a group of twenty people including our kitchen staff, farmers, vintners, nutritional counselors, food writers, artists, B&B owners and chapter leaders of the Weston Price Foundation.  Our goal was to introduce our fall series of cooking classes as we enjoyed a sample menu, and some delicious wine from 3 Fox Vineyard.  The meal consisted of seasonal Peperonata made with zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and onions, Basil Pesto Ravioli, cucumber & tomato salad, whole grain basil bread and a delightful plum crisp for dessert. All was served and presented on hand made pottery by Joy Bridy.   John and Holli Todhunter brought their 2009 La Boheme Viognier and 2008 Il Volpe Sangiovese. We wanted to bring people to each other and our kitchen to spread the word about our classes and emphasize what we are weaving together when we say Local Foodshed.

Gathered Around the Table at Smith Meadows Kitchen

Gathered Around the Table at Smith Meadows Kitchen

A foodshed is everything between where a food is produced and where a food is consumed — the land it grows on, the routes it travels, the markets it goes through, the tables it ends up gracing.”   With cooking classes at Smith Meadows Kitchen we offer students a chance to engage with their foodshed as they learn to cook at its very source.  Not only the ingredients come from local farms, but our talent does as well. Chef Kimber Herron has been teaching hearth cooking classes at the Burwell Morgan Mill in Boyce, VA for many years.  He has over 30 years experience in a kitchen, and has been a loyal customer at Smith Meadows since we started selling our products.  He and his family have a small farm on the southeastern side of Clarke County where they have sheep and chickens of their own.

Kimber and I gave our guests an idea of how the classes would be structured.  The great part about the evening was getting their feedback on how to better present materials & information in our kitchen.  Monica Corrado and Katherine Sumner are two nutritional counselors who teach classes in Takoma Park and Alexandria.  They have been generous to share their experiences with me from the moment I decided to host classes at Smith Meadows.  As they chatted with Heidi Eastham of Rucker Farm and Shawna Rinker Hartsook of Oak Hart Farm ideas for even more classes and opportunities for experience tourism blossomed.  There is a difference between entertainment and education with farming tourism.  It was exciting to participate in a discussion that will bring so many positive contributions to our local foodshed.

Patty Childs and Terri Wuenschel, the core of Smith Meadows Kitchen staff.

Patty Childs and Terri Wuenschel, the core of Smith Meadows Kitchen staff.

I took great pride in showcasing my wonderful staff.  Patty Childs, Terri Wuenschel, Lynsi Pasutti, and Kate Westlund had worked with me all week to set the scene, as well as cook delicious food.  To enjoy this and great wine with them after all our hard work was a sweet reward.  It’s rare that they get to share a sit-down meal with me or with Ruth Pritchard, who owns the farm and runs the bed & breakfast.  In the midst of an impressive group of peers we were all able to express the enthusiasm and joy we have for the work we do every day.  As Stephanie Mangino of the Winchester Star took notes and chatted with all of our guests, an important story was being crafted.  To keep our work vital we need to share it with as many people possible.  This kind of work deserves attention to remind patrons that they have a very active role in sustaining their foodshed.

Everyone who attended has inspired me or pushed me along at some point in this project.  I must give thanks to Sandy Sowada of Lost Dog B&B and Debra Haines Cornwell of Around the Panhandle.  They both have encouraged me to follow through on the cooking classes.  Sandy had experience planning a cooking school called Shenandoah Cooks about 5 years ago.  Debra writes restaurant reviews and other articles for Around the Panhandle.  Now that we have had a chance to celebrate the efforts of so many people who have brought recognition to our kitchen, we can move forward within a network that sustains our foodshed.  Join us for a class this fall, and you will be able to share in this process.  For more details on our first class please visit our classes page.  There is a link to our program for the September 25th Chicken Class.

Nancy is a first generation Italian-American who makes good food and thinks about it. She has lived on this farm since 1998.