By Elena Gustavson
Let me start by saying, I love all things food.
I love to cook with it, talk about it, photograph it, and – yes – I love to eat it. Food nourishes and comforts us, and when eating and cooking with others, food is truly the center of “community.”
I should also mention that I love farms. I’ve worked with and for Vermont farmers for the last ten years. My work has put me in touch with the joy and the challenges of getting dirty and working hard, all while witnessing astonishing innovations from some of the most excellent people I have had the pleasure to meet.
When I heard that the Rutland Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) was hiring a new Everyday Chef coordinator for their Food & Cooking Education program, I jumped at the chance. Not literally of course, unless you count the little hop of joy I did when I heard I was hired.
RAFFL’s Everyday Chef - Food & Cooking Education program aims to build community members’ confidence in the kitchen while highlighting local farms and the region’s agriculture economy. As the new coordinator for Everyday Chef, I get to combine my love for food and my interest in working with local farmers into my typical workday.
Since being hired in February, I have been busy reaching out to the community and putting together a series of classes and workshops for the greater Rutland region. I’ve been meeting and coordinating with local chefs and guest instructors to teach cooking workshops on everything from basic skill building to more advanced techniques. I’m also working with some of the region’s businesses – from the big to the small – to talk with their employees about local food and farms as a pathway to community engagement and overall better health.
Chop! Chop!: Basic Knife Skills on June 13
For the first Everyday Chef summer workshop, who better to kick off the series than Chef Lisa Fennimore of Stafford Technical Center? Chef Lisa will be teaching a skill building class called, “Chop! Chop!: Basic Knife Skills” in the teaching kitchen of Rutland High School’s Stafford Technical Center. Participants will enjoy delicious refreshments while learning how to use proper knife techniques to dice, mince, and prep foods with ease. Each person will then head home with a handy knife skills guide, recipes, and other resources.
The class will be held on Saturday, June 13 from 11:00am to 12:00pm. Since we want Chef Lisa to work closely with each participant, only 20 tickets are available. The workshop is $10 per person, 16 years old and older, with scholarships available. Interested children, ages 11 to 15 and accompanied by a paying adult, are free. To reserve your ticket, go to www.rutlandfarmandfood.org.
Other upcoming summer workshops will include tours of a local farmers market and a grocery store, a class on healthy and delicious Mediterranean cooking, strategies for cooking and preserving local, fresh foods, and a workshop on quick and healthy kid-friendly lunches for the school year. We are also building “bootcamp” workshops around outdoor grilling, bbq and smoking techniques, and basic skill building in the kitchen.
If you are interested in staying up to date on upcoming classes and events, sign up for our newsletter at www.rutlandfarmandfood.org/contact and find out more about Everyday Chef by visiting our blog at www.everydaychef.org. For questions and inquiries, I would love to hear from you at email@example.com
Elena Gustavson is the newly hired coordinator for RAFFL’s Everyday Chef Food & Cooking Education program.