From left to right: Karen Guile (Peaslee’s Potatoes), James Marsh (Johnson State College Dining Team), Tom Fondakowski (General Manager at Johnson State College), Annie Rowell (Sodexo’s Vermont First), Janice Peaslee (Peaslee’s Potatoes), and Corey Kelley (Johnson State College Dining Team) Photo Credit: Nicole Chicoine
In 1928, on the eve of the Great Depression, Fred and Gertrude Peaslee set out to find land along the Connecticut River to start a farm. Settling in Guildhall, Vermont, little did they know they were building a business that would be the livelihood of their family for multi-generations. Eighty-five years later, Janice Peaslee, Fred and Gertrude’s daughter-in-law, together with Karen Guile, their granddaughter, own and operate the 250-acre potato farm.
This year, through Vermont First, we identified an opportunity to increase our local potato purchasing in partnership with Peaslee’s Potatoes and our distributor partner Black River Produce. In our excitement, we made the trek to Guildhall to see the potato crop in full bloom and meet Karen’s family and team.
This friendly competition challenges professional and up-and-coming Sodexo chefs to create dishes around foods and products that are native to Vermont. The goal of the Localvore Cooking Challenge is to highlight fresh, local ingredients and promote local farmers and vendors. It provides students with an opportunity to learn about the benefits of local products while enjoying delicious food.
Each campus culinary team prepared and served their local dishes to students during the special lunch at Saint Michael’s College. Students then voted on their favorite dish. The culinary teams were also judged on presentation, creativity, technical execution, and guest interaction by guest judges from the Vermont food community.
A HUGE shout-out to all the stellar culinary teams from each participating campus.
Castleton University – Smoked Chicken & CHeese Sliders with caramelized Whistle Pig onions and cheddar ale sauce, apple beet hash, and apple pave
Champlain College – Native Pulled Pork Slider with Queen City Brewery Smokey Rauchbier Beer and rainbow carrot and cabbage slaw
Johnson State College – Chickpea Crepe, Risotto Balls, Mud Pie Mini Cupcake
Lyndon State College – Maple Chipotle BBQ Beef Slider, Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese, BBQ Tempeh Slider
Norwich University – Vermont Maple Carrot Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting
Saint Michael’s College – Maple Bourbon Ice Cream with crispy apples, candied fennel stems, cranberry confit, butternut squash coulis and streusel.
University of Vermont – Vermont Elk Sausage and Ricotta Cavatelli Saute
Vermont Tech – Carne Desmechada Arepa with NE Raised Beef Brisket and Queso Fresco from Champlain Creamery and Caramelized Apple Arepa with apples from Champlain Orchards and Maple Syrup made at Vermont Tech.
Can you say yum?
Congratulations to the St. Michael’s College team for their first place win this year!
“There are two types of leadership. Leadership by statements of commitment, and then leadership by action. Leadership by action is what is happening right here today.”
Chuck Ross, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture
In the midst of a December rainstorm, 65 producers, distributors, support organizations, and administrators joined the Sodexo Vermont First team at the first Vermont First Stakeholder Forum at Castleton University.
The dual purpose of the event was to foster collective learning about how the Sodexo supply chain works and also identify the potential opportunities for local products within that supply chain.
Through the work of programs like Vermont First, Sodexo is one of the leaders in the food industry responding to increased demand for local and sustainable food. Here is a glimpse of the scale of changes happening across the US food industry:
We see a parallel story happening within Sodexo North America.
This brings us back to the context of our Vermont story. In a state the size of Vermont, we often feel that Vermont’s role and contribution to society
is to use our strong connections and political culture of participation to be the testing grounds for change. At the Vermont First Forum yesterday, Vermont Secretary of Agriculture, Chuck Ross, drew upon this sentiment in his comments regarding Sodexo’s work through Vermont First:
“[Vermont First is a] model that can be replicated across the country, and I’m thrilled that Sodexo is leading the way.”
As we finalize the 2015 local purchasing numbers, a few trends are emerging – both in areas of growth in our local purchasing as well as areas that deserve a closer look in collaboration with our distributor and producer partners.
Through Vermont First, we have introduced an extensive food purchase tracking system that captures purchasing trends in greater detail than we have been able to capture before.
Stay tuned for this information over the next few weeks. You will be able to find that information here on the Vermont First blog, Vermont Farm to Plate, and through local media sources like Vermont Digger.