By, Rose Kaszuba, Executive Chef of Essex Eats
Most folks know Essex, New York as a place to catch the ferry to cross Lake Champlain into Vermont.
I know Essex as a foodie paradise.
While cheffing in another state, I read Kristen Kimball’s memoir, “The Dirty Life”. After a few pages, I googled “Lake Champlain” and saw a large body of fresh water surrounded by farms and forests. Kristen’s account of creating a full diet CSA at Essex Farm with her husband, Mark, resonated with my desire to cook alongside a community of farmers.
Her book also inspired me to reread Barbara Kingsolver’s iconic, “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle”. Kingsolver’s account of her family’s choices to eat locally for one year changed my life. I remember thinking, am I brave enough to create a locally-based lifestyle? What if used my experience as a Chef to allow friends and neighbors to access locally grown food?
From these inspirations, “Essex Community Suppers” was born. And, we are rocking along! With our mission, “Feed. Gather. Love.” we have been hosting free community suppers from our small restaurant Essex Eats on Main Street in Essex.
From July 5th to November 1st, 2020 we have hosted 18 weekly suppers, served nearly 900 farm-to-table meals, fed guests from Essex, Willsboro, Westport, Lewis, Jay, Plattsburgh, and Vermont.
We’ve created our menus highlighting products from our local farms:
We buy local farm food, we bring folks together for take-out entrees, and we serve in love and kindness.
We are more than the cafe on the corner. We are more than foodies. We are exponentially affecting our community as folks return to their homes, towns, neighbors and friends buoyed by their experience of a home-cooked meal.
Our recipients encompass our town’s demographics: retirees, working parents with kids, attornies, teachers and farmers, tourists, second-home owners and folks that may need a helping hand.
As the season progresses, we look forward to expanding our quantity of meals served (up to 150 meals/Sunday), possibly coordinating with the Hub to deliver meals to Emergency Food Program recipients, reaching out to other communities to model our program for duplication, hosting a guest chef program for cuisines from other countries, and creating a training program for students with an interest in culinary arts and social justice.
As a free community supper program, we rely on donations and sponsors to pay food costs, labor costs, and supplies. I donate my Chef services, marketing, kitchen use, insurance, and administrative costs.
And as a community program, we strive to build social connections. Yes, we are currently masked and distanced; but, once we are on the other side of the pandemic, the Sunday Suppers can continue to serve as a venue for renewing social connections, building stronger community ties, and patronizing local farms.
Join us at 4 pm on Sundays (1st come/1st served) for free Farm-to-table Community Suppers, take-out style. All are welcome (masks required). 2314 Main Street in Essex, New York (aka Essex Ice Cream Cafe)
Donations are gratefully accepted at our “GoFundMe” page.
Be sure to find other curbside pick-up options near you here: adirondackharvest.com/browse