Seasonal Chef: Having a Hoot of a Time with FarmOn!


Recently I had the great good fortune to attend a very special event, in Copake, NY, hosted by FarmOn! called “Hootenanny!” Overlooking the beautiful Copake Lake, we dined on a stunning array cheeses, charcuterie and breads, wines and spirits, and a multi-course dinner created by ABC Kitchen and Jean-George Vongerichten. Every single consumable ingredient was sourced within 40 miles of the event, in the Hudson Valley.

Lake at  Copake

FarmOn! Is truly a farm-to-table movement, made up of professional farmers, educators, nutritionists and community leaders invested in the future of agriculture. Their mission is to bring awareness to our food choices and sources by engaging local communities to participate in locally produced food products and thus changing the future of farming.

Tessa Edick

The driving force behind FarmOn! is Tessa Edick. Her passion for food and farming in the Hudson Valley knows no bounds. A food entrepreneur in her own right, Tessa not only is the Founder and Executive Director of FarmOn! but also the founder of Culinary Partnership, an organization for chefs and entrepreneurs to launch their recipes into the retail realm.

FarmOn Dinner tent

As Seasonal Chef, I find myself constantly at the farmers markets in Westchester, either demoing or shopping. I love nothing more that to mix it up with the farmers asking questions, bringing things home to try. For all the time I spend in the markets I still find myself discovering new and interesting ingredients. A few weeks ago it was baby fennel and just this past week an herb called papalo. Being that the Hootenanny event was a real treat as well, giving me the opportunity to connect with so many farmers and taste a variety of spirits and food, right from our backyard.

Cornelius Cherry Brandy

Once we arrived we were greeted with a wonderful array of beverages ranging from beer, wine and spirits. Again, all produced in the Hudson Valley. I opted for a refreshing cocktail made with Harvest Spirits Cornelius Cherry brandy and Gus’ Pomegranate Seltzer. The brandy was just delicious and can be found at Zachys Wines and Liquors.



Laid out for the guest was an dizzying array of charcuterie, cheese and breads, again all from Hudson Valley farms. Many found at the Pleasantville Farmers Market.

Moving on to dinner we had some delicious dishes starting with the first course:

Tomato and Beet Salad

Tomato, Feta and Cucumber Salad and Roasted Beets with Organic Yogurt

Kale and Chili Salad

Kale, Lemon and Chilis with Mint.

FarmOn Dinner

For the main course: Summer Beans with Smoked Bacon, Roasted Summer Squash, Roast Pig with BBQ Sauce, Brined Country Chicken with Hot Butter and Creamed Corn.

FarmOn! Dinner

Capping off the evening with a divine Blueberry Lemon Tart.

There are two fabulous upcoming events you can participate in: first on August 17, there will be a Northern Chef’s Alliance, where chefs from the US and Canada will create a feast in the fields of Fish and Game’s Farm. Fire pits, smokers, grills, ice cold cocktails and the bounty of the Hudson Valley. All profits from the event go to the FarmOn! Foundation.

Then on September 27 there will be a huge FarmOn! Food Fest. Billed as a family affair and day out on the farm, in picturesque Hudson Valley. You will be able to meet and eat from family farms at the 5 mile farm fresh grille, shop the Locavore Village, and learn from your community at the Future of Farming Tent. There will also be a drink local libations bar, and the ability to pet and experience living farm animals. Try free samples of all your favorite seasonal fruits and vegetables and gain access to extensive agriculturally based community resources. Surely a fantastic event for the whole family.

Remember … if you ate today, thank a farmer! 

Buon Appetito!


About Author

Seasonal Chef blogger Maria Reina comes to the world of food as a third career, spending a great portion of her adult life in the field of Human Resources. With her private company Bella Cucina Maria she is a personal chef, caterer and recreational cooking class teacher in Westchester. She's an avid food television watcher and cookbook collector, always looking for a new take on a traditional dish. In her free time she loves hanging out at local farmer's markets, chatting it up with the farmers and doing cooking demos with their seasonal ingredients. In addition to her blog, which is loaded with easy recipes, you can follow her on Facebook (Bella Cucina Maria), Twitter (Bellacucinam), Instagram (Bellacucinam) and Pinterest (Bellacucinam).

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