Sunday Supper Series Goes Local for Sustainability
Dinner event scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 23 at Hyatt Morristown.
Terry Connolly wants people to know sustainability isn't just about buying from your local farmer.
Though that's important, the Community Soup Kitchen and Outreach Center Executive Director wants people to know sustainability is much more than just that. It's her organization, for example.
That is why CSK is one of several new participants in the Morris County Sunday Supper Series' fourth edition, to be held from 4 to 7 p.m. Sept. 23 at Hyatt Morristown.
Sponsored by Hyatt Morristown and the Highlands Dinner Club and benefitting Sustainable Morristown, the tasting event started a year ago will focus its attentions this time on local food sources, from the farmer to the person who prepared what the farmer grows. The event's title, appropriately enough, is "Locally Grown."
Connolly was approached by Paul Miller, of Morristown's Office of Sustainability, to participate after discussions of CSK's "Kitchen 2 Kitchen" program, which helps link restaurants that want to make food to be served at the soup kitchen.
"It's a perfect connection to Sustainable Morristown," Connolly said. "It's also about the well-being of the entire community."
Each participant, which includes restaurants like Hyatt's Eclectic Grill and Rob's Bistro in Madison as well as Kings Supermarket, Enjou Chocolat, The Artist Baker and Grassroots Natural Market in Denville, is bringing something to share for the event.
Some, like SmartWorld, will bring a signature item like coffee for patrons to enjoy. Others, like Stephen DeMarco, executive chef of Villa Enterprises—which includes the Black Horse Tavern, George & Martha's and The Office—are getting creative.
Miller said in the beginning, the Sunday Supper Series worked almost exclusively with restaurants. But, "local sourcing has become more integrated to a broader range," he said, noting organizations like Kings and CSK are a testament to that.
DeMarco's crew is putting together a dinner with fresh pasta, chicken from Goffle's Poultry Farm, blue cheese from Valley Shepherd Creamery, ricotta made with locally-sourced milk and beets sourced from Zone 7 of Mercer County. In total, DeMarco—who has participated in previous Sunday Supper Series events—said 80 percent of his station's offerings will be locally sourced.
When people attend the event, the chef said he wants them to look at what's offered and say, "I can't believe all of that was local," he said. "It opens up a lot of eyes."
James Laird, owner and chef at Restaurant Serenade in Chatham said cooking local is just natural, pun intended.
As recently as 2000, Laird said he still had to go to the Union Square Farmers Market in New York City, where he found many New Jersey farmers selling their products. Today, it's much easier to eat local, with farmers markets in Chatham, Madison, Morris Plains and Morristown to name a few.
Participating in his first Sunday Supper Series, Laird is planning on serving roasted heirloom squash, with Szechuan pepper corns, served with apple cider reduction. His dish will be made with product from Alstede Farms, in Chester.
Not only has it gotten easier to buy local, "dining in America has changed," Laird said. "It's sometimes cheaper in supermarkets. You may pay more [elsewhere,] but the flavor and the product is going to be so much better for you."
Sometimes, however, it's just not possible to choose to pay more. Through its Kitchen 2 Kitchen program—which has several dozen participating restaurants and counting—Connolly at the Community Soup Kitchen noted guests to the soup kitchen were not just getting whatever was available, they're getting good food.
That thinking will extend into the Sunday Supper Series, where CSK will prepare a minestrone soup with shaved parmesan and homemade croutons, with produce supplied by Grow it Green Morristown.
"We're excited to be part of the event," Connolly said.
Miller called the Sunday Supper Series a unique experience.
"It's a complete experience in that you get to meet who grew your food, who took that food and cooked them," he said. "As people move around the room, we hope they're doing more than just experiencing the food from taste, but coming to appreciate how complete a system it is. One piece depends on the other.
"Sustainability is all about systems linking," Miller said.
The 4th Edition of the Sunday Supper Series will be held from 4 to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 23, at Hyatt Morristown. For more information, including purchasing tickets, click here.