North East Community Center
 
Green Peas brunch served more than 100 at benefit for NECC
Reprinted with permission from The Millerton News, copyright The Lakeville Journal Company, LLC, 2011.

MILLERTON — Green Peas TV, a regional cooking show set in the Hudson Valley, joined hands with local consumers and producers of food last Sunday, July 24, at No. 9 restaurant in Millerton.

In addition to raising money and awareness for the North East Community Center Farm and Food Education Program, the benefit brunch will also be featured as an episode on Green Peas TV.

With the exception of the few tables unprotected by the rain, the chairs remained full (as did the plates of each chair's occupants) despite the overcast weather. The fundraising event, called Meet the Chefs, surpassed its original 100-person limit.

For Michael Kneelend, a resident of Stanfordville, the clouds served as a complementary garnish to the food.

"I'll take the rain," he said, "It's better than the heat."

Although this was her first benefit in this area, Roxzene Hunter seemed to be loving every minute of the food and environment.

"We were only planning on being here a few minutes, and look, we're still here," she said.

When asked which food she liked best at the event, she said without hesitation, "The gnocchi from Agriturismo. But I love these things. We're foodies — well, part-time foodies."

In addition to No. 9, the day featured six other Dutchess County restaurants: The Stissing House, Red Devon, Back in the Kitchen, Local 111, Chefs' Consortium and Agriturismo. Food was donated by 12 farms.

The chefs and the exuberant platters of food they presented were the stars of the day, but the limelight was not limited to restaurants. Tousey Winery, Harney and Sons Tea and the Wassaic Project also participated, as did many local farmers who donated food.

Sara Lukasiewicz, one of the chefs from Red Devon, reflected on how much she enjoyed spending time with her customers as well as the farmers.

"It was a treat," she said, noting that most of her time in the restaurant is spent in the kitchen.

"Most of the farmers I know well from working with them," she said. "But, it is nice to interact with them more than, ‘That's a nice pig!'"

Tea master John Harney Sr. said, "We come because we want to support local events for good causes. Plus," he said with a laugh, "who knows if I might need them to support me some day."

"Breaking bread together is what building community is all about," said Jenny Hansell, executive director of the North East Community Center. "An event like this feeds the body, the soul, the spirit and the mind. The generosity of the farmers and chefs helps us educate the next generation of farmers, chefs and food consumers, and supports our ability to make sure the food sold at the Millerton Farmers Market is affordable and accessible to everyone."

To add an extra bit of flavor, the Wassaic Project offered a kite-making workshop, and shared information about their upcoming weekend festival, Aug. 5 to 7. The free festival features current work by area artists and by artists who have been in residence at the Wassaic center this year (for information, go online to www.wassaicproject.org).

For a podcast of an interview at the event with No. 9 chef Tim Cocheo and NECC director Jenny Hansell on WHDD robinhoodradio.com, the National Public Radio station in Sharon, go online to www.robinhoodradio.com and search for "meet the chefs."