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Food Day with Andrew Zimmern, Babson Food Sol, and Friends

October 28, 2012

The view from above, Farmstand as Event Hall

Volante Farms was thrilled to host a special evening with our neighbors from Babson College last Tuesday evening. Babson’s Lewis Institute and its Food Sol Program arranged a special two-day event to coincide with Food Day 2012 including speeches, demonstrations, collaborations and a celebration of food and how we interact with it. Please read Food Sol’s Rachel Greenberger’s recap of the Babson events here at

Cheese Plates and Chef Todd’s Vegetable dishes lined the center banquet de apple bins.

Two generations of Volantes hail from Babson College and that loyalty and our proximity to the school make teaming up for food positive events a simple choice. This one couldn’t have been more exciting so we leaped at the chance to host a reception for Babson’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Bizarre Foods’ Andrew Zimmern and his friends. Andrew was involved in all of Babson’s Food Day events and the fireside chat he helmed on Tuesday evening was one great part. He was joined by friends Michel Nischan of Dressing Room and Wholesome Wave, Jamie Bissonette of Toro and Coppa in Boston, Skip Bennett from Island Creek Oyster Farm, Nancy and Tim Cushman from O Ya, and our very own Todd Heberlein.

Andrew Zimmern shows off his Goat Sausage, with peppers onions, grilled bread and savoy cabbage mustard slaw.

This impressive crew discussed food trends, sustainability, and the future of food for a few hours to a rapt audience. They then ‘retired’ to Volante Farms for an exciting and fun reception centered on each participants’ individual skills and passions. The attendees of the invite only reception included the chefs and their friends, Babson dignitaries, and several lucky thought leaders interested in food entrepreneurial action and networking with some of Greater Boston’s hottest food innovators.

Andrew tending to the grill, which our guy Doug kept going in the interim so Andrew could greet his fans.

Each chef was given a station and put their skills and those of their crews to work creating some signature and unique tastes for the crowd. Andrew and Jamie set up dueling sausage grills in the shadow of our Hay Man. Andrew’s personal recipe Goat Sausages were paired with roasted peppers and onions and a mustard dressed slaw made with our own homegrown Savoy Cabbage and served with grilled Clear Flour Ciabatta.

Jamie Bissonette grilled up sausage with chard and cauliflower kimchi, as well as grabbing oysters from the boat to see what he could do to them on over charcoal.

Jamie Bissonette is one of Boston’s small plate kings, so he really pulled out the stops for a Vietnamese Pork Sausage made from a very special pig from our friends at Brambly Farm. The sausage was wrapped in chard and served on a hot dog roll with a kick of cauliflower kim chi. Thank goodness for the warm and clear night, as the line for the grills was usually the longest, and with Andrew Zimmern gregariously tending the coals, it was an enjoyable spot to hang out.

Michel Nischan’s Missouri Style Ribs, hot out of the kitchen.

Inside, Michel Nischan, a sustainable food pioneer was recreating a dish that arrived with rave reviews for Missouri Style Dry Ribs, cooked in a sous vide and then finished off in the Volante’s Farm Kitchen. Michel is a huge fan of farm to table cooking and is always eager to talk about how to make food make more sense, so he was a perfect addition to the Food Day lineup and a welcome and cheerful presence in our kitchen.

Island Creek Oyster Farm & Bar’s team of shuckers.

Island Creek Oysters brought a literal boatload of their Duxbury farmed oysters which was a nearly overwhelming treat for everyone. A real success story in food entrepreneurship, Island Creek has become the branded oyster in the Boston area as well as being attached to one of the hottest restaurants in town Island Creek Oyster Bar in Kenmore Square. We were thrilled to discuss future opportunities to host them at the farm.

One of o ya’s signature dishes, it sparkled even on compostable paper plates.

James Beard Award Winners Tim and Nancy Cushman of O YA also joined us in our farmstand with platefuls of Hamachi Sashimi: viet mignonette, Thai basil, and shallot. The flavor sparkled with heat and spice and showed why the Cushmans have one of the premiere spots in Boston for sushi or any food. Nancy was as impressed by our space as we were by their offering, so hopefully we can work together in the future as well.

Volante Farms’ Chef Todd’s Four Star Farm’s Wheatberry Salad with Homegrown Beet Relish

To round out all these fabulous dishes, Chef Todd and our kitchen staff used the freshest and finest ingredients from our fields to create vegetable dishes to complement the proteins provided by the others. Many of his dishes are also going to be available in our prepared case this fall so if this post has had your mouth-watering, there is an easy way to access some of it.

Todd talks with the guests about their food.

He served his smoked vegetable stew with fresh shell beans that is available now. Todd also produced some savory mushroom stuffing that he plans on making available through the fall. His house cured bacon and pumpkin seed bark were a unique addition to the large cheese spread and complemented his signature pumpkin hummus, served in Cinderella pumpkin shells. Using our local partner’s grains he also created a Four Star Farms Wheatberry Salad with Homegrown Beet Relish. Look for these and take offs on these in our refrigerator case over the next few weeks.

Pumpkin Hummus, soon available from Todd’s Farm Kitchen, sans roasted bowl.

Beverages were handled by our friends at Urban Grape of Chestnut Hill and newly the South End. They provided wines to pair with the wide variety of dishes on the menu. For the lighter options Chef Todd prepared his famed cucumber herb water and Food Sol partner Mission Root donated several of their ginger laced juice drinks for sampling.

Dessert was handled by a tag team effort from our own chef Jen who prepared bite sized pumpkin cheesecake with gingersnap crust, pecan and apple tartlets and Babson Food Sol associates Unreal Candy and Kris Bronner who was making fresh kale and pumpkin seed ice cream in liquid nitrogen to amazed onlookers.

The whole evening was very exciting and fresh and we were very happy to share our farmstand with our Babson neighbors and their special guests. We appreciate our customers understanding when we had to close early to transform the stand from shop to event hall. We know it is an inconvenience and thank you for putting up with it. It was great to see the stand in a different light, so open for the first time since our grand opening this spring. The beauty of the structure really was on display and is a source of pride for us and hopefully for the whole community.

Andrew and Jamie enjoying the night air and some cabbage salad.

Volante Farms is proud to be a leading small business in Needham with a firm hold on tradition and a keen eye toward the future. Events such as this help us show the greater community how committed we are to furthering our footprint on Boston’s food culture and supporting the smallest and largest of the local providers of food in our area. Sustainability is more than a trend, it is something essential to a healthy local economy and our partnering with many local food entrepreneurs is sure to help Volante Farms and Needham succeed on this path.

Thanks to all from the Volantes, we look forward to seeing you soon!
L to R: Dave and Katie Volante, Ryan, Andrew Zimmern, Steve Volante, Teri Volante Boardman, Doug, Todd, Chuck, Brian

photos in this post only attributed to Kevin Liu, Babson

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 29, 2012 12:52 pm

    Foodies unite and head straight for Volante. OMG this looks so yummy. Looking for your pumpkin hummus and wheatberry salad, Todd!

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