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Farm Camp Teaches NYC Chefs Where Their Food Comes From

By Kristin Underwood | Treehugger

Pigs on the Farm Camp for Food Professionals Photo
Image via: Farm Camp

It's kind of like a slow-food boot camp for farmers, that includes a stay in the farmhouse of a working farmer, morning chores like gathering eggs and taste testing everything right on the spot. Owners Jen Small and Mike Yezzi have spent almost the last decade working to protect small farms and earn a living by providing NYC chefs and greenmarkets with the very food that ends up being served to discerning palettes every night. And yet, something was missing - they realized they wouldn't succeed if the restaurants don't succeed and thus their experiment began to take chefs out into the field and teach what farm fresh really means. Enter Farm Camp for Food Professionals where chefs can bring their own knives, but if not, knives will also be provided.

Thanks to a grant from the New York Department of Agriculture and Markets, the old barn on the property has now been spruced up to host an entire education center and Farm Camp for Food Professionals is a reality. Chefs are encouraged to cook up a pig they freshly slaughtered or grill an omelette from eggs freshly gathered. There is a communal table where farmers can talk with chefs over a great meal about life on the farm. Taste testing and getting their hands dirty is lesson number 1, as chefs watch milk bottled directly from an udder and can taste fresh ice cream, fresh cheese, fresh maple syrup and fresh eggs, among other items. Knowing the distinct flavors of minutes-old fresh food helps a chef to better prepare a meal, so taste testing is a very important part of the day.

Ultimately, Farm Camp hopes, "A connection is forged between the cook, the farmer, and the land. And both farmers and chefs emerge with new bonds and renewed energy to create a lasting partnership between the Empire State's rural farms and its renowned urban restaurants."

Small and Yezzi also started the Farm to Chef Express a few years ago, which helps mainline fresh food right into restaurants - providing a better meal or restaurant-goers and a sustainable income for local farmers. The Farm Camp is just an extension of that passion. Camps are limited to just 15 participants at a time and cost only $150 for the two-day session. Sessions are closed for the fall, but check back soon for the next round of dates this spring. :Farm Camp for Food Professionals

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