Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Community Supported... Kitchen!

You've probably heard of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), where customers support a farm by paying a set amount upfront and receiving regular shares of produce (or meat or cheese or...) from the farm throughout the season.

Ithaca is now home to Community Supported Kitchens (CSK), where customers receive prepared foods weekly. Last year, the Crooked Carrot started up. This season, Stone Soup Supper Club launches with a focus on, yes, soup.

Here's what owner Mary Beth says about the Stone Soup Supper Club:

"Stone Soup Supper Club is Ithaca's newest community supported kitchen (CSK).  We offer a simple, delicious, and budget-friendly connection to Ithaca's local food web by transforming fresh ingredients from local farms into deliciously wholesome, seasonally satisfying soups and stews and delivering them to your door every week. You can turn your soup into supper by adding local salad greens and a loaf of local bread (baked fresh for the CSK by Wide Awake Bakery) to your share. Soup shares start at just $13/week.  Join Stone Soup Supper Club for a weekly dinner that nourishes your body and soul, cultivates our local economy, and was created, from start to finish, by your neighbors.  Sign up online at www.StoneSoupSupperClub.com or by calling Mary Beth at 607-351-0396."

The Stone Soup Supper Club Team --Joan Pike (chef), Kevin Murphy (operations & sous-chef), and Mary Beth Murphy (business manager)-- too the time to answer some questions from Ithaca's Food Web:

Q: Why soup? Why now?

Mary Beth says "When we we became a family with young children, the spirit and idea of cooking with local and organic food became an even bigger priority (nothing better than visiting a local farm during u-pick hours with young children, even if you come away with only 13 half-eaten green beans!). But with many more things vying for our time, the reality of cooking with our CSA box became overwhelming. We found many people in similarly busy situations faced the same issue, craving an efficient way to enjoy a simple and sustainable meal together."

Kevin says, "Joan and I were already working together at the Park Grill Café. When we came across the idea of Community Supported Kitchens (CSK), now sprouting up across the continent, Mary Beth and I realized that we had our answer. Soups offer our local farmers an additional market for their produce that might otherwise be bypassed by farmer's market or CSA customers (we can cut around bruises in tomatoes, brown spots on beans, etc, without any effect on the deliciousness of our soups). By partnering with local farms and using the café in its off hours (as many CSKs do – another way to reduce, reuse, and recycle!) to cook up hearty, seasonally appealing soups, we could offer another way for busy families, professionals, and retirees in Tompkins County to enjoy deliciously satisfying and nutritious meals while supporting our local food economy."

Q: How did you learn to make soup?

Joan says "From the women in my family growing up in Jamaica. Jamaicans have a passion for soup. Soup is an affair every Saturday in every household. During my training at the Culinary Institute of America, I learned new techniques but I still lean on my early family training."

Q: Do you have a favorite soup memory?
Joan says, "Yes, several: Mannish water from Jamaica, Pozole in a market in Mexico city, Birria from a vendor when I was at a bullfight (hated the bullfight but loved the soup - rich, delicious flavors)."

Q: Soup seems simple. Is it?
Joan says "No, it is not simple. When well-made it is a delight, but the maker has to have a passion for doing it."

Mary Beth says, "To me, soup is creative. A creative way to use lots of nutritious ingredients in one dish. A creative way to use vegetables that may not grab people's attention in a farmer's market display (like the delicious Puree of Turnip Soup!) A creative way to showcase seasonal harvests (like Chilled Berry Soup in the summer or Roasted Root Vegetable Stew in the winter)."

Q: Lots of local food businesses come and go. Do you think you'll make it? 

Kevin says, "Definitely! Judging from our community's initial support of our idea, our CSK is sustainable for the long-term. We've exceeded our initial membership goal, even before we start deliveries on May 1st. Local food businesses, such as the Ithaca Coffee Company, have reached out to us and will be serving our soups. We've planned carefully, created strong partnerships with farms, and the CSK-model allows us to purchase only what we need each week without any excess or unnecessary waste. There are many people in Ithaca who understand the value and importance of eating local, but may not have the time or desire to create meals from a CSA box. Stone Soup Supper Club gives anyone the opportunity to enjoy a fully local meal or two each week in their home without lifting a finger!"

No comments:

Post a Comment