Edible Rhody's 2015 Local Hero Award Winners
Congratulations to Our 2015 Local Hero Winners
Every autumn readers of Edible Rhody are invited to honor the people who bring us our food by voting for their local food heroes. We’d like to extend our thanks to all of you who voted for the chefs who feed us, the artisans who tempt us, the farmers who produce flavorful foods, the food, wine and retail stores that inspire us and the nonprofits that effect change in our food community.
Diana Kushner–Arcadian Fields
Arcadian Fields in Hope Valley is situated in a small hollow, surrounded by woods on all sides. Says farmer Diana Kushner, “To be at the farm is to be away from the world.” Yet Kushner’s four-acre farm, running since 1998, is a world of its own. Twenty-five volunteers help with Friday harvests and at the Saturday Hope Street Farmers Market on a weekly basis. Kushner says, “We are an eclectic bunch in age and life experience. What we share in common is a love of good food. We are an ‘unintentional community.’”
Kushner says 2014 brought a bountiful harvest of giant sweet carrots and leeks the size of her arm, which took hard work to pull out of the land. But, she says, “The support of the farmers’ market community makes it all worthwhile. The same customers return year after year. I could not imagine growing without the support of all of these wonderful people.”
Find Arcadian Fields at FarmFresh.org
Matthew MacCartney–Jamestown FiSH
Executive Chef Matthew MacCartney of Jamestown FiSH is no stranger to awards. Since opening in 2011 with longtime patrons-turned-partners Cathy and John Recca, MacCartney’s ingenuity with dailycaught seafood, penchant for drool-inducing desserts, and world-class wine lists have been reeling in the accolades. Having worked in some of the finest kitchens and dining rooms in New York City, Europe, and most recently at the acclaimed Pasta Nostra in Norwalk, Connecticut, MacCartney says he’s happy to bring his big-time expertise to tiny Conanicut Island.
Now in its fourth year, MacCartney says 2014 saw Jamestown FiSH move into a new phase of growth. He says, “We made a lot of great friends this year and the restaurant was busier than ever —that was definitely a highlight. We’re finding our way in what we can offer and deliver, and the restaurant is really coming into its own.”
Andrea Colognese–Village Hearth Bakery
“Idea, obsession, conviction, reality.” These are the guiding principles set forth by Doriana Carella and Andrea Colognese of Jamestown’s Village Hearth Bakery. Open and beloved since 2001 and occupying the couple’s former home since 2009, they have solved the equation: scarcity + high standards = success. Doing everything themselves— from hand-milling grains to chopping wood for the traditional brick oven to raising chickens for eggs—results in limited weekend hours, selling out nearly every day and a legendary line for their Sunday pizza nights.
Pizza Sundays at the Village Hearth always feature two options: the signature Margherita and a chef’s special. When he looks outside each week and sees that massive line, Colognese says, “It’s really rewarding because we work so hard. It’s nice to see that people appreciate it and that’s what keeps us going.”
David Lanning–Dave’s Coffee
2014 was a big year for one of Rhode Island’s favorite craft coffee roasters. CEO David Lanning and his team opened a second espresso bar and bakery in Providence, continued growing their wholesale business, made plans to move roasting operations to a larger facility in Narragansett, and got their cold brew coffee syrup into Crate & Barrel stores nationwide. That’s a long way for the key ingredient in L’il Rhody’s state drink!
A pioneer and lover of coffee syrup mixology, Lanning claims it “pairs well with anything from bourbon whiskey to vodka. From espresso martinis to an old fashioned.” He says we can soon expect a collaboration with South Kingstown’s Sons of Liberty Spirits Co. that will involve aging coffee beans in oak whiskey casks.
“We’ll wait 30 days and then roast them so they’ll have a little bit of that whiskey-oakey-bourbon flavor to it,” he explains. “So that’ll be cool!” Amen.
FOOD, WINE OR RETAIL SHOP
Grapes & Gourmet
After working at Grapes & Gourmet on and off for years, now-owner Will Wilson decided to purchase the shop with his father two years ago and give the Jamestown establishment a reboot. With his sister Amelia as manager (says Wilson: “I get to bust her chops almost daily”), the team worked with 20–25 distributors to select around 100 new wines, a “primo” craft beer section, plus funky cheese and charcuterie pairings to match. Finally, they blew out the walls and installed large windows overlooking Narragansett Bay.
The result? The store’s weekly wine tastings were recently called out in the Jamestown Press as “the place to be on a Friday night.”
“That might just be a testament to how boring Jamestown is in the winter,” jokes Wilson. “But I suppose we’ve changed it and made it a little more cozy.” One of the only stores in Rhode Island that can sell booze and cheese under one roof, no wonder it’s a popular spot.
The Genesis Center Culinary Arts Training Program
The next time you go out to eat in the Providence area, odds are high somebody in the kitchen has a connection to the Genesis Center—a nonprofit serving over 600 individuals annually in adult education and workforce development. Recently selected by Vice President Joe Biden for the National Skills Coalition as one of 30 “model programs” nationwide, the Genesis Center is quickly gaining renown for its training programs in the culinary arts, hospitality and health care. Culinary arts students go through a rigorous training with head instructor Joshua Riazi (above) that prepares for them for life in the food service industry.
“In restaurants, hotels, hospitals, long-term care facilities—our reach is pretty broad,” says President and CEO Shannon Carroll. “People are looking for something better, an opportunity that will get them on a path or career in something that could change their lives and their families’ lives. We’re here to help students find it.”