Sustainable Connecticut: Staying Hungry

Who's who and what's what in the local food community



MORE SUPER MARIO Celebrity chef, restaurateur and author Mario Batali and partners plan to open a new restaurant in early summer on the former site of Abbondanza market and Bonda restaurant in Westport. According to partner Nancy Selzer, Tarry Lodge Enoteca Pizzeria is a “casual reinterpretation of the Tarry Lodge” in Port Chester and features a wood-fired pizza oven and grill. Chef Andy Nesser says he will initially source from the Westchester farms that supply the Port Chester restaurant, but plans to forge relationships with Connecticut farmers for the Westport location.

MAKING WAVES Michel Nischan’s influence continues to grow. On February 12, the James Beard award-winning chef and sustainable food pioneer presented at TEDxManhattan. “Changing the Way We Eat” was an all-day event dedicated to sustainable food and farming, in which he challenged guests to embrace possibilities for “creating real change in our nation’s food system.” (To watch the presentation, go to tedxmanhattan.org/webcast-session-3.) In April, Nischan will be a presenter on “The Rationale of Local” breakfast panel and a featured chef at Fortune magazine’s annual Brainstorm GREEN conference. Wholesome Wave, Nischan’s nonprofit, makes healthy, fresh food more affordable and accessible through its innovative Double Value Coupon and Fruit & Veggie Prescription Programs. In recognition of these initiatives and their ability to effect change on a national scale, Ashoka elected Nischan to its global fellowship of leading social entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries. “Ashoka is known for gathering creative and driven folks to work together to make significant social change possible,” he explains. Sounds like Chef Nischan should fit right in.

 

HIGH HONORS Bill Taibe, chef/owner of LeFarm, the wildly popular farm-to-table restaurant in Westport, is a James Beard Foundation Award semifinalist for Best Chef: Northeast. “It’s a pretty amazing honor and was quite unexpected,” says Chef Taibe. “It’s slightly surreal.” And what will he do with his expanded celebrity chef status? “LeFarm will stay where it is, but we may take the philosophy and do something a little different with it. Lots of ideas are on the table, including a possible second location.” He and his team are nearing the end of an arduous green certification process, which has required making changes to everything from dish soap to carryout containers and cold packaging used by their fishmonger. “We always had the goal of becoming a green-certified restaurant, and now we’re literally down to changing the lightbulbs.”

MEAT AND GREET Get to know this name: Ryan Fibiger. A graduate of the whole-animal butcher training program at Fleisher’s Grass-Fed and Organic Meats in Kingston, N.Y., Fibiger is bringing his nose-to-tail butchery to Fairfield County. He plans to open a new retail butcher shop featuring local, pasture-raised meats in Fairfield or Westport, and envisions his shop as an alternative to the huge synthetic machine that the meat industry has become. “Meat is the centerpiece of most of our meals, yet most consumers have no idea where their meat comes from and how it was raised,” says Fibiger, a protégé of Joshua Applestone, Fleisher’s co-owner and master butcher. “The business model needed to be completely reinvented.” (And he knows a thing or two about business, having spent a decade on Wall Street.) Locavore canines can chow down on Chef Alex Gunuey’s Bone-A-Part gourmet dog food made from scratch with trimmings from Fibiger’s shop, a symbiotic relationship that ensures no part of any animal, from tip to tail, goes to waste. Look for Bone-A-Part at your local farmers’ market.

photograph by doreen birdsell

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