New @ 95: Volante’s New Farm Kitchen: Grow It, Cook It, Live It!
New @ 95: Volante’s New Farm Kitchen: Grow It, Cook It, Live It!
Hello loyal readers. My name is Todd Heberlein and I am the new Chef at Volante Farms. I’ve been cooking for just over 20 years, with the last 9 at Wilson Farm in Lexington. I have been lucky enough to experience so many great people, kitchens, and meals, from cooking for the Emmys to cooking for my family. And all of this has led me here, to 292 Forest Street.
Since the beginning of my career, I have gravitated towards kitchens that focused on using fresh ingredients. I just don’t think I realized it at the time. Cutting my culinary teeth in some great restaurants in California, I saw menus change daily. If a farmer cut a new crop or the fisherman had a new catch, it was brought to the kitchen with great honor. As time went on, this seemed to be the right way to cook to me: using fresh, local food, seasonally. I even started my own gardens so I could enjoy the freshest ingredients when I cooked at home. I never would have guessed that when I was buying plants at Volante’s for my garden 10 years ago that I would become the chef. Now, as I enter my 10thyear of being a chef on a farm, I know I have found my calling and at Volante’s, a home.
As I sit here over my shiny box (that’s what I call my computer. Hey, I belong behind a stove, not a desk), my mind wanders to the possibilities ahead of me. Every edible crop grown here will pass through the kitchen at one point or another. I’m like a kid in a candy shop! This means that you, o’loyal patron, will have many ways to enjoy some of the best produce in New England. You’ll see dishes like Sweet Pea Ravioli with Spring Vegetables, Southwestern Corn Chowder, Heirloom Tomato Flatbread with Arugula Pesto, and Roasted Squash with Chestnuts and Caramelized onions, just to name a few. Each season will bring new inspiration. And just to tempt your taste buds, I plan on spending time sampling these new dishes so you get familiar with our prepared foods. But I won’t stop there! Down the road we will provide recipes of our new dishes so you can try them out on your own. We want you to enjoy our produce whether you cook it or you let us do it for you.
Looking for a great new deli and sandwich shop? Here we are! Not only will we carry everyone’s favorite, Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, but we will have a fantastic variety of Italian meats. We took on the daunting task of finding the best meats we could (ok, we loved every slice of it!) so you have plenty to choose from. This leads us to sandwiches, which are Steve’s real passion. We have come up with our list of sandwiches, our “Farm Standards”, and we think you will easily find your own favorite. Want to make up your own favorite? We will have a condiment list like no one else around. Who else can say they are using their own produce to offer you new ways to enjoy your lunch? And when we start our sandwich specials, be ready. We will dip into the same inspiration well to offer you local Beef Bulgogi with our own Brussel Sprout Kim Chi and Garam Masala Spiced Greens with Pumpkin Hummus on Warm Naan. Just want a simple turkey sandwich? Our pleasure.
“Ok” you say, “But what if I want a salad”? So glad you asked. Tired of the same old packaged salads? Questioning the freshness of the good old salad bar? Have we got a change for you! Introducing our build your own salad bar! We will have a selection of our favorites for you to choose from, but that’s just the beginning. You can come up to the salad bar and ask our salad whiz to make something really exciting from the large list of changing ingredients. Like I learned so many years ago in restaurants, a daily changing menu focusing on what’s best that day will yield the best results. Lettuces and other vegetables could change daily. If Lee brings in some beets one morning, they will be an option for you that day. If Ryan brings in the first-pick of green beans, well, you get the picture. And no processed dressings here with hard-to-pronounce ingredients. We will make them all from scratch. “But what will happen during the lean winter months?” you ask. We are dedicated to bringing you the best of what’s available then too.
Are you ready for the bakery? Yeah, me too. Don’t you just love the smell of freshly baked bread? What about the unmistakable sound of breaking off a piece of warm bread? There is nothing like it. We will be bringing in some of the best bakeries around to offer a little something for everyone. Got a sweet tooth (come on, don’t we all)? We have eaten cookie after cookie and pie after pie (at this point, you can tell we love our job) to procure treats to tempt even the finest palette. Gluten-free and vegan goodies will be available as well. Once we have our feet wet, we will be offering our own selection of baked goods to herald in the glorious spring, summer, and fall bounty that New England has to give. Think Rhubarb and Lavender Bread Pudding, Peach and Blueberry Tarts, and Spiced Pear Cakes. I can’t wait!
Aside from all of this, we still have a long list of goals to accomplish. To help to get to know you, I will be doing sampling and cooking demos in the store. From there we will start doing cooking classes, to give you some ideas on how to use our great produce. Finally, something near and dear to my heart: dinners in the field. We will create a menu using what is at its peak in the fields while you sit at elegant tables right at the center of it all. This is truly a great way to enjoy local at its core. Stay tuned for more information on all of these events. Who knows, maybe we will even ask some local chefs to have a friendly round of “Iron Chef” using a basket of our produce! Let us know what you think.
Thank you, weary reader, for making it this far. Who would have thought a chef was so full of hot air! Now I must ask of you one favor: please do not compare us to any supermarket or anything else remotely similar. We are truly unique and have so much more to offer. This family is committed to making your visit here a memorable experience, which is why I am proud to be here. Think of me as your personal chef, Needham. Need help with dinner? Head to the prepared food case. Have a cooking question? Come to our open kitchen and ask me. Want to know about upcoming new dishes? Just ask, that’s why I’m here. I’m ready to get cooking!
A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step, so let’s get started!