Leslie Lampert is owner of the Cafe of Love, Ladle of Love and Love on the Run in Mt Kisco—she is a lovely person – inside and out. One of the things that make her so is her strong love of community (this is going to be a love filled post, can you tell). Leslie is someone who fully embraces the idea of community and the many things that go with it: networking, sharing, helping, and collaborating – just to name a few. I recently sat down with Leslie Lampert, Jenni Mendez (Cafe of Love manager) and Jenny Elliott, who owns Tiny Hearts Farm along with her partner, Luke Franco ( who is also a musician).
Tiny Hearts is a small farm located in North Salem. They specialize in cut flower bouquets and vegetables grown using organic practices. The kaleidoscope of colors that greeted me when I went to their farm was magical! Now of course, we all know that farming is hard work and long days but walking around the farm on that beautiful morning, enveloped in color and sweet scents I thought, “I would love to do this!”. For now however, I’m sated with my little garden plot and I’ll leave the farming to the professionals. Tiny Hearts sells their wonderful, free-spirited bouquets at farmers markets and recently for wedding venues.
Leslie gets fresh flowers from Jenny for the Cafe of Love too and also has the beautiful bouquets available at the Ladle of Love as well. Leslie has a lot going on in addition to all of her great eating establishments. She recently began a new association with The Hammond Museum under the name, Leslie Lampert Affairs. And once again, in keeping with her sense of community and support of local farmers, she’s getting Jenny involved as well. Leslie will be catering affairs at the Hammond Museum, providing her award-winning foods and Jenny, along with many of the other farmers that Leslie works with, will provide their specialty crops. Leslie believes that it ‘takes a village’, when businesses come together to support each other they in turn create a community that supports the customers. In the end, everybody wins. “It has to be that way”, says Leslie, “in this age of global business and internet business we have to keep the infrastructure of local and community strong”. Leslie is very proud of the fact that her clientele, “gets it” they know, understand and appreciate the efforts that go into making a meal that is truly local. She sources as much as she can from local farms and growers “how could you not!”, she exclaims. Leslie refers to her food as “honest” food. Food that is grown with integrity, relationships that are honest and preparation of that food that respects everything that has gone into bringing it to her restaurants and subsequently, her guests. Cafe of Love, who recently won the Slow Food Snail of Approval Award is celebrating their Ten Year Anniversary this December. Being one of the first farm to table restaurants in the area, they really know what they are doing and do it so well!
Farming for Jenny is a little different then for many farmers in that she grows her flowers for color and design purposes. She knows each flower intimately; how they grow, how they act when harvested, what they are “supposed” to do. That being, should they lean gracefully in the bouquet, should they stand up tall, will they open and how big after being harvested. These are question that all require answers which have come to Jenny after years of experience, trial & error. Next season Jenny & Luke are planning to expand their growing by opening another field where they’ll add even more flowers and produce.
As our conversation continues just like in the cartoons, you can see a light bulb go off in Leslie’s head. “I have a really good idea for you”, she says to Jenny with excitement. The start of a new idea, a new collaboration is born and the sense of community continues . . .