Cindy Daniel on Creating the Healdsburg SHED Ecosystem

Healdsburg SHED

About 20 years ago, Cindy Daniel and Doug Lipton moved to Healdsburg to follow their dream of starting their own farm. After they achieved that dream, they set out to conquer another three years ago: Healdsburg SHED, a celebration of food and community unlike anything else.

Healdsburg SHED has the primary quality that you may see on a thriving farm ecosystem: diversity. This beautiful two-story building is home to a restaurant, fermentation bar, coffee bar, retail shop, produce, farming tools, and a community gathering space. The mission of all of these components is to create a space that celebrates “good farming, good cooking, and good eating.”

After a tour from Doug, we sat down with Cindy to talk about the inspiration, concept, and construction behind SHED, including the different components that work together to make the ecosystem thrive. Some customers may come in daily for a cup of coffee and a pastry or heirloom seeds for their home garden. Ultimately, there are many different kinds of people who can relate to SHED in different ways — here’s how she engages them all.
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Picked for Your Plate: Top Farm to Table Restaurants for Earth Day + Every Day

Farm to table may be an overly used phrase at this point, but the underlying philosophy will always make sense. What could be better for chefs than access to hyper fresh produce and proteins raised by farmers with whom they have a personal connection? Rather than simply take what’s being offered, chefs are now making special requests for items they wouldn’t otherwise be able to find. We present three top farm to table restaurants for Earth Day that have cultivated special partnerships with farmers so they can serve their guests unparalleled – and oftentimes otherwise unavailable – vegetables, fruits, and herbs.

Travis Swikard, Culinary Director, Boulud Sud, New York, New York
“It all started three years ago, because Stokes Farm from Old Tappan, New Jersey, set up a farm stand next to the restaurant. I began talking to the farmers and ultimately started using his tomatoes. After I went on a farm tour, he offered us half his greenhouse to grow whatever we wanted. Now he grows us a ton of stuff: mustard greens, bronze fennel, pea shoots and pea flowers, pepper cress, and lemon verbena. In the fall, we use 600 pounds of his pumpkins a week — mostly Fairytales to make ravioli and Moroccan-spiced pumpkin soup. We’re also starting to develop a relationship with StarDust Farm in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, which we found on Instagram. We’ve been using his eggs for a year; they have bright, plump, firm yolks. They’re super-flavorful and very creamy – the way eggs are supposed to be. We put a slow poached one on top of our spring garlic aïgo boulido (pictured), which is essentially a garlic and potato velouté. This spring, they’re growing garlic for that soup, as well as peas and purple asparagus. In the summer, we’ll be getting baby spicy greens, field lettuce, chilies, piquillo peppers, five kinds tomatillos, and a bunch of different tomatoes. I have a strong drive to find the best ingredients and then make the best food with it. We want our diners to know the stories behind what they’re eating, so I like to provide the servers with some ammunition about these products so they can go to the table to let people know why it’s special.” Make a reservation at Boulud Sud.

Farm to Table Restaurants for Earth Day

Dane Sewlall, Executive Chef, Black’s Bar & Kitchen, Bethesda, Maryland
“Brett Grohsgal from Even’ Star Farm in Lexington Park, Maryland, came by the restaurant randomly one day, we got to talking, and we found out we have the same outlook on food. Everything at his farm is organic and he uses heirloom seeds. Prior to a season beginning, he’ll ask what I’m looking for. In the past, I’ve asked for green strawberries and purple and yellow cauliflower. If it’s in the realm of possibility, he’ll do it. He does a couple things for us that I haven’t seen anywhere else, including napini, which are the flowering tops of mustard greens and have a bitter, biting mustard flavor. He also grows us two edible flowers: red buds, which are pink and taste like snap peas, and little yellow arugula flowers, which have an intense arugula flavor. His pea greens are so much more flavorful and bolder than those grown hydroponically or in a hothouse. I use them to garnish our garam masala-crusted salmon (pictured), which is drizzled with a spicy tamarind sauce and is accompanied by samosas filled with potatoes, onions, and peas. As a chef, I don’t want to work with vegetables that have been on a plane or a boat for weeks on end. The longer it is out of the ground before you eat it, the more flavor it loses. So to serve stuff that’s so fresh and so local is going to give me the best possible flavors to work with.” Make a reservation at Black’s Bar & Kitchen.

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Shop Like a Chef: Hush Bistro’s Chef Marc Anthony Bynum Shares His Tips

Ever wanted to shop like a chef? Want no more, as Hush Bistro’s chef Marc Anthony Bynum shares his tips to make the most of your trips to the market.

To market, to market to buy a fat pig…along with a couple of fat hens, some ducks, and maybe a side of beef. Marc Anthony Bynum, chef and owner of Hush Bistro in Farmingdale, New York, only has to stroll down the block to Farmingdale’s Main Street Meats to do most of his daily meat and poultry shopping. The Farmingdale native and two-time Food Network’s Chopped champion opened his first brick and mortar restaurant, Hush Bistro, just seven months ago, embracing both his hometown and local foodshed.

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There is no disputing that the catchphrase “farm-to-table” has become a bit overused, and, at times, misused. Bynum is fully committed to serving his patrons the best from Long Island’s farms, fisheries, and vineyards and visits these producers, ensuring his patrons get “the best of the best.” Idealistic, yet completely realistic, Bynum defines local as 500 miles from Farmingdale, which includes the rich Hudson Valley. In addition to carnivorous offerings from, literally, down the street, Bynum is “switching it up a bit and I am now working with d’Artagnan for some of the best organic meats and delicacies from upstate New York.” When shopping for beef or pork, Bynum recommends knowing the cuts; the best cuts (rump, ribs or loins) come from the back of the animal, while the working (for stews and marinating) cuts (shoulder, flank, and legs) come from the front. Don’t shy away from fat, he cautions. “Fat equals flavor.” A good cut of beef should have plenty of white flecks of fat. “A well-marbled cut is self-basting and will remain tender, moist and juicy. Super lean meats can dry out if not basted continuously,” explains Bynum.

Seafood appears, like most of Hush’s dinner offerings, as specials. Whatever is just-off-the-boat is what’s for dinner. Bynum’s number one rule when shopping for seafood is, “If it smells fishy, it isn’t fresh. Also, avoid finfish that looks slimy and has cloudy eyes, and shellfish that is gaping.”Continue Reading

10 Restaurants with Their Own Farms: Happy #EarthDay

In honor of Earth Day, we’ve rounded up 10 restaurants that take the farm-to-table concept to another level — they have their very own farms. Talk about private stock. Celebrate Earth Day and sustainability with a reservation at one of these eateries that takes locavorism to a hyper local level!

Pawtomack Farm 41. Black Cat Farm Table, Boulder, Colorado + Black Cat Farm, Boulder, Colorado.

Chef Eric Skokan wasn’t a trained farmer when he started Black Cat Farm, but he likely qualifies as one now. After trial and error and advice from fellow farmers, he is now a skilled self-taught tractor driver and producer of American Mulefoot pigs and grower of sublime heirloom tomatoes, both of which you’ll find on the menus at Black Cat Farm Table and gastropub Bramble & Hare.

2. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York + Stone Barns Center for Food & Agriculture, Pocantico Hills, New York.

Dan Barber was inspired by the past to forge the future in establishing one of the nation’s most important restaurant-farm partnerships. Blue Hill opened on Stone Barns’ 80 acres in 2004, and the farm and the restaurant serve as a model for sustainable agriculture and cuisine.

3. JG Domestic, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania + Luna Farm, Ottsville, Pennsylvania.

Jose Garces and his family purchased an all-organic 40-acre farm not just as a family getaway; the farm, named for the Garces’s dog and the region’s breathtaking harvest moons, Luna Farms provides freshly grown produce for chef Garces’s east coast restaurants, including Amada, Tinto, and Volver.

4. L’Espalier, Boston, Massachusetts + Apple Street Farm, Essex, Massachusetts.

Apple Street Farm was founded in 2009 by L’Espalier chef McClelland, and its 14 acres serve as the primary source of organic harvests of everything from artichokes to zucchini, free-range poultry and pork, egg-laying hens, honey, and more for L’Espalier. The restaurant is 26 miles away, and chef McClelland is known to hand-deliver just-picked product to his team of chefs.

5. The Mulefoot Gastropub, Imlay, Michigan + Romine Family Farm, Imlay, Michigan.

The Mulefoot’s namesake comes from the heritage breed of pork that is served at the gastropub and raised at their local family farm located about eight miles from the restaurant. Chefs and twin brothers Matt and Mike Romine look after the pigs when they’re not working in the kitchen of their restaurant, but father Joe primarily tends to the heritage hogs, first procured from local Toad Hall Farm in Emmet.

6. PRESS, St. Helena, California + Rudd Farms, St. Helena, California.Continue Reading