A crossroads between farm and restaurant
Posted: Thursday, March 6, 2014 12:30 am
By Tessa Edick
For Columbia-Greene Media
We are at a crossroads — a junction where four roads meet and decisions are made which path to take. A connection to clean seed, soil, air and water are vital for good health and the health of our children. Our food choices and sources, preferably fresh and local, should pack nutrition density and taste divine. Timing is everything. It’s time to honor our farmers who make this possible and celebrate our rural communities to foster economic development and wellness for the health of this country — and it all starts with your food shop.
Conscientious and community driven Chef David Wurth is making a difference in farm to table practices at his restaurant that not only prove nutrition tastes better but play an active role in turning the locavore movement into a lifestyle.
Wurth credits a “daily effort from our 17 Crossroads employees” and “good people who want to do it with you — like Nick Curelop, a cook who has a gift for it and lead baker Jill Jakimetz, a jewel that fell into my world from an ad I put in the paper and a response that she and her husband are farmers but would try the restaurant job. Within a week Jill started baking from my recipes and soaring as a baker with confidence and curiosity — she executes baking with great hands, I’m so proud of our baked goods — even the burger bun is made here.”
Inspired by the crossroads that Henry Fonda landed upon off the bus in the middle of Oklahoma in the film “The Grapes of Wrath,” Wurth resonated with that small town diner that was essential to the community and named his restaurant in the same spirit. “I had the impression that it fed the neighborhood and was used as a gathering spot. I was fascinated by the idea of frequent visits day after day and knowing who came through the rural community where food is locally grown and you know everyone.”
Open just over two years and located just after the juncture of Route 22 and Route 23 in Hillsdale, Crossroads Food Shop is a must-do for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“My hope is that Crossroads is a spot that brings people in every day — like the Herrington family — you start to know what they order — homemade biscuit or scone — or how they like their coffee,” Wurth said with a smile.
The dinner menu always has what you are looking for — recognizable things that are all about quality of the meat or produce, local sourcing and flavor.
A native New Yorker from Rochester, Wurth explains, “Good eats — well prepared — well executed offer simple cooking that you can enjoy every day. I thought about it that way — our rural community uses a store or restaurant as its hub — as much as the bank or post office. I grew up with a busy working mom who was interested in cooking meals but had no time. So Estelle Wurth, also a good cook, gave me a cookbook and trained me to make food for our family to eat together.”
Cooking became a lifetime passion after Wurth spent decades in restaurants from Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. to Dean and Deluca, Balducci’s and Savoy restaurant in NYC to earn a living. “Impressed by achievenment of creating a product, theatrics and the satisfaction of a busy night, I was lucky early on to find work with different teachers who involved me in their projects,” Wurth shared.
And he’s not a locavore for PR purposes, Wurth is buying locally and seasonally grown food because it’s better in every way and keeping with his culinary values. When there are no local tomatoes in January — they aren’t on the menu to make clear to the public his desire to work in season only, which he says always made sense to him.
His mentor, NYC Chef Peter Hoffman of the infamous Soho Savoy Restaurant in NYC, utilized Hudson Valley farm food for decades and encouraged visits to see where produce was picked — just one of those life-changing experiences that connects you to where your food comes from that encouraged Wurth to take farm visits upstate: “To see the changes from city life — air, light, smell, sound which strengthen this transformation taking place 20 some years later from farm to table. In Columbia County finding work and becoming assimilated can come to fruition — it sounds corny but it’s true. I was inspired to move to the country and find friends: young, old — city or country, we find happiness here in food.”
Crossroads Food Shop is indeed making a difference.
Wurth continued, “People who live in Columbia County really love the community whether they moved up from the city full time, are weekenders or locals who have lived here all of their lives — people use the restaurant differently but we are offering something unique and enjoyable and appreciate all that brings: farming, professionals, artists, teachers, visitors — people are involved with what’s going on and care about neighbors and local food — both great benefits to living here.”
Wurth works with 11 farms in the winter, and that bumps up to more than two dozen in the summer and still allows him to “load up on farm stand produce.” Wurth even purchased a CSA with Hawthorne Valley Farm last year and tells me, “it was amazing — like a treasure box of produce.”
There are some challenges with sourcing local food as not everyone delivers but Wurth justifies the issues as worthy, “I spend time in the car on beautiful rides and lovely days going to the farm and seeing where the food is grown.” It completes the circle of trust to crossroads — connection to what you eat and where it is from — so important beyond taste.
“Meet your farmer,” Wurth said. I love that part.
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