4 Questions for the Chef

Steven Anthony Konopelski began his career as a pastry chef in New York City after working as a Broadway singer and dancer. He and his husband, Rob Griffith, moved to the Eastern Shore in 2014 to open the Turnbridge Point Inn in Denton. A year later, Chef Steve appeared on the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship, surviving eight episodes to be crowned runner-up. He grew up in Mayfair, Saskatchewan, a town in Canada with a population of 30. Recently, Chef Steve made the Chesapeake Bay Caramels that were distributed at Taste of the Eastern Shore, an event co-sponsored by Chesapeake Harvest in February.

What’s with the trend of combining salty and sweet?

I honestly think it’s always been a thing, but lately the notion has been deconstructed. Great pastry chefs have always understood that you need salt in your dough. But separating the salty to create a composed bite has become sort of the norm now and not the exception. We’re breaking down the flavor profiles and allowing the salt that has always been there to be up front. Now we allow the brain to register that, we’re pushing the boundaries.

What are some of your favorite flavors of the Eastern Shore?

I never used Old Bay until I moved down here. You see t-shirts that say ‘I put Old Bay on my Old Bay.’ It is beloved. But there is so much more: The peach season is a lot longer here than I’ve experienced; we have beautiful local peaches. The Chesapeake Bay offers an abundance of fresh seafood–I’ve started cooking with crab more than ever. And those gorgeous oysters. Local dairy farms have beautiful rich milk that is creamy and delicious and great to cook with.

How and what did you source locally to make the caramels?

Along with the local version of the seafood spice mix, we use local butter and cream. There is some honey in the recipe – but I bring that in from my home town in Canada. It’s creamed honey that hasn’t been processed. A couple of times a year my brother sends me a care package from Saskatchewan full of honey.

What are the benefits of sourcing locally?

It’s fun and rewarding to be able to touch and feel and smell the tomatoes that are going to become part of your salad later that day. I grew up on a farm so I know what life can be like. A lot of times farmers don’t get the credit they deserve for how tough a life it is. There isn’t another profession in the world where it’s always a gamble, every single day. Anything we can do to support farmers is important. These are the people who are feeding the world.

 

Photo Credit, Darren Van Dyke

Food Safety

Food safety matters. Even if your farm is not covered by the Produce Safety Rule (meaning you are not required by law to comply), and even if your current buyers have not asked you to pursue GAP certification, it’s important that you and your workers understand the potential sources of produce contamination. We call that creating a culture of food safety for your farm, and we’re here to help!

This coming Tuesday, March 5th, in collaboration with Future Harvest CASA, we are offering a FREE lunchtime webinar from 12:30 to 2:00 PM. “Demystifying Food Safety” will help clarify the differences between GAP certification and FSMA regulation. We’ll also provide ample time for questions and answers.

Attend for free online here: Zoom 

As the growing season progresses, will be hosting a variety of on-farm food safety programs designed to supplement the FSMA Produce Safety Rule Grower Training. These half day workshops are sure to help you clarify concepts and illustrate how they might apply to your farm. The first opportunity is slated for early April, so stay tuned for more information on that!

For farmers looking to become GAP audit ready, we offer no cost on-farm risk assessments and remote food safety plan writing sessions. Nothing like one-on-one support to help you meet your food safety goals! Reach out to us for more information. Click here

We look forward to working with you soon!

This work is supported by Food Safety Outreach Program Award Number 2018-70020-28868 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. The contents of this document do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Environmental Protection Agency, nor does the EPA endorse trade names or recommend the use of commercial products mentioned in this document.

Recipes 

A staple in our houses, carrots provide a really nice pop of color to any dish. Beyond that, they’re sort of the basis of just about any stock, soup, or stew we make. Our kids insist on eating them raw with dill yogurt (yeah, we trick them into thinking it’s “ranch”) or hummus. But our favorite way to prepare them as their own side dish that really shines is this one.

Maple Glazed Carrots

  • 1 lb. carrots, scrubbed but NOT peeled
  • 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp. paprika (can use more if you like spice)
  1. Cut your carrots into ½” pieces, they can be round or if your carrots are really thick, cut the rounds in half.
  2. In a heavy bottomed, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat melt 2 Tbsp. butter. Once it starts to brown, add your carrots and stir to coat evenly. Add ¼ cup of water to the pan and drop the heat to medium-low. Allow the carrots to simmer in the water for 5-8 minutes. You’ll know they’re ready by pricking them with a knife- there should be some resistance but if they’re hard, add more water and keep cooking.
  3. Remove the lid and stir the carrots around, encouraging the water to evaporate by turning the heat back up. Once most of the water has dissipated, add the rest of the butter, salt & pepper and stir to coat.
  4. Sprinkle the paprika over the carrots and pour in your maple syrup. Cook for a few more minutes until evenly glazed and fork tender.

We serve these alongside literally any protein- pork, chicken, salmon, steak, whatever. It also makes a nice addition to a Thai dish if you cut back on the maple and add ginger & sweet chili paste. You can also replace the maple with honey if you don’t have any maple on hand!

Honey

No, technically honey isn’t produce, but it’s still worth buzzing about. It has proven antibacterial properties (think wound treatment), the result of its natural acidity and of nutritious goodies introduced by the bees themselves. Studies also suggest that it can be useful for treating cancer, due to its robust level of antioxidant compounds. In a trial on children with respiratory illnesses, honey soothed nighttime coughing and promoted sleep better than leading cough medicines. (Note that honey is not suitable for children under a year old.) Finally, many attest the benefits of consuming raw, locally sourced honey for people and pets with allergies. Here’s an idea for a winter honey elixir to ward off the nasties. Two local honey producers have recently added their products to our online platform, so it’s now easier than ever for you to locate. Honey: proven health benefits, available year-round, and it tastes like dessert. What a sweet choice!

Director’s Desk

 

Happy emerging Spring!  2018 seems like ancient history as the Chesapeake Harvest team looks forward to another year of working with you to build a vibrant local food economy on the Eastern Shore.  In 2018, we launched our wholesale and “pilot” retail online market platforms, www.chesapeakeharvest.com, while continuing to provide comprehensive on farm food safety training and technical assistance. Building on this momentum in 2019, we will extend our food safety and wholesale readiness training throughout the Chesapeake Bay Watershed, thanks to support from the Town Creek Foundation and the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and a partnership with Future Harvest/CASA.  We are eager to expand the retail market opportunities building on the success of our pilot retail project for Talbot County, and will be seeking new retail partners. Stay tuned!


 

Tracy Ward
Executive Director
Easton Economic Development Corporation