Something about the crisp autumn air whips up an appetite—especially when you’re able to select your own heirloom tomatoes to slice into the arugula salad. Such is the case at the Red Rooster restaurant at Vermont’s Woodstock Inn. During the growing season, the vegetables served in its on-site restaurants flourish just a mile down the road at the inn’s Kelly Way Farm under the experienced eye and swift spade of master gardener Benjamin Pauly.
In a unique liaison between plow and pantry, an innovative young gardener linked with a daring and resourceful chef to craft a menu that is bound to tantalize tastebuds while redefining the local food movement. The experience of munching on flash sautéed Brussels sprouts served on a bed of buttery lettuce drizzled with tarragon pesto to tucking into an heirloom squash, potato, and turnip pavé dinner, under the director of resident chef Rhys Lewis (aka Chef Rhys), is beyond savory.
It all started in spring 2013 when Ben Pauly reluctantly put in his notice. The newly minted architecture/agriculture graduate did not want to leave. And yet, his position as the inn’s concierge was not fulfilling his training. Similarly, the feeling was mutual because the inn asked how they could persuade Pauly to stay. That’s when he hatched the idea that had been simmering in his dreams for several seasons. He wrote up a detailed proposal for a chef’s garden, and a week later he was on his way to ordering seeds. In just four years, the garden has expanded to three acres with further plans to harness more rolling farmland owned by the inn.
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WRITTEN BY TOVAH MARTIN
PHOTOGRAPHY BY KINDRA CLINEFF
This story appeared in the Fall 2017 issue of MILIEU.
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