On Friday and Saturday May 10-11, Ohio State University's Chadwick Arboretum will host their annual Mother's Day Plant Sale, an opportunity to take home annuals, perennials and herbs from Ohio nurseries and support the gardens, which span 60 acres on the south side of Lane Avenue, just west of the Olentangy River. The two-day plant sale is Chadwick Arboretum's largest source of revenue for the year, and will host 19 visiting vendors, including native plants from Scioto Gardens and flower baskets, ideal for Mother's Day gifts. Look for compost bins, garden art, soaps, crafts and other artisanal items. Garden tool sharpening will be offered on site.
Freedom a la Cart offers a new model in food by empowering former victims
Cause Cuisine. That’s what Doma development director Dan Clark calls the movement toward “food with a purpose.” Here in Columbus, an outcropping of Doma (which translates to “home” in multiple languages) takes shape in Freedom a la Cart, a food cart and catering business that employs victims of human trafficking, teaching rescued women skills from time management and cooking to nutrition and group dynamics.
The process—fresh ingredients, group coordination, assembly-style preparations and, often, interactions with customers—introduces “a self-worth the women have never experienced,” according to Freedom a la Cart co-founder, Julie Clark. “For most of their lives these women are shopping at the Dollar Store, eating whatever they can get their hands on. They are often living on drugs. They get fast food. This teaches them new choices, from relationships all the way to food.”
Freedom a la Cart came to be while serving healthful meals to trafficked women throughout their experiences in court, offering some semblance of comfort in periods of distress. “It’s a way to say we care about you. It’s part of our DNA,” Julie says.
In 2011, Julie, along with co-founders chef Lara Yazvac and sous-chef Kae Denino, combined their passions to forge ahead with the powerful nonprofit, Doma, focusing efforts on feeding Columbus and supporting newly freed women. Most of the women are graduates of Franklin County’s CATCH Court, a voluntary two-year program offered to sex-trafficking victims as means of recovery and accountability outside of traditional incarceration. From there, many seek out Freedom a la Cart, Doma’s social enterprise, to develop “the basics—not just of a kitchen job but any job,” Chef Lara says. Julie estimates that nearly a dozen women have attained steady jobs after working at Freedom a la Cart.
Working out of an industrial kitchen and office space donated by the downtown Columbus YMCA in July 2012, the chefs lead two to four women at a time through the recipes, each broken down by component, every element homemade. The Freedom team makes quick work of produce donations in the growing season, and regularly partners with Local Matters, the Ohio Farm Bureau and Six Buckets Farm, which supplies fresh pork. Franklinton Gardens once supplied the Freedom kitchen with bushels of foraged pears, plucked from trees on neglected or wild land. “I love that spirit,” says Chef Lara, “that idea that there’s this beautiful produce going and no one is doing anything about it.”
Though the cart makes appearances throughout the summer, Freedom a la Cart has focused on catering events, weddings and crafting gourmet boxed lunches. “Brides tend to love us,” Julie says. Customizations can include thrift store plates and vegan offerings, and menu choices are vibrant. A typical boxed lunch will contain a gourmet sandwich, like the roasted chicken with pear compote and sage aioli, alongside a crunchy, salty snack and a sweeter treat, like a coconut macaroon or cardamom sugar cookie. A light side dish is offered, “usually a grain like a quinoa or wheat berry with something local and fresh,” Julie says.
Julie, Lara, Kae and the rest of the Freedom team hold fairly nontraditional positions, but the lessons they share on a daily basis have lifelong impact. “The girls always joke with me: I’m not just a chef, I’m a crisis counselor. I’m a teacher. I’m a therapist. It’s almost like I’m a social worker first, then a chef,” says Chef Laura.
It’s not just the process of the cooking, but the quality that’s making an impact. “They’re not just cracking open cans. We’re making all kinds of things from scratch. It’s food you can really take pride in.”
For Vanessa, a human trafficking survivor, food was, at one point, the least important thing in her life. “I didn’t really care about me so why would I nourish my body?” Recently, Vanessa’s been able to use her newfound knowledge and cooking skills, honed while creating dishes for Freedom, to create a sense of stability, putting dinner on the table for herself and her son. “The most freeing thing is just me being able to be me, to learn and grow. I feel like I have a purpose here, not only for myself but for other people.”
As the need and enthusiasm for Freedom a la Carte grows, Julie, Lara and Kae hope to expand into cooking classes for the women and, eventually, a full-scale restaurant. “We want people to be able to come to us and eat,” says Julie. “Our ladies are dying to get a place of their own.”
Continued growth of the organization means more opportunities to heal, teach and, according to Julie, “…experience freedom on all levels.”
To learn more about Freedom a la Cart and how you can help, visit freedomalacart.org.
Freedom a la Cart’s Smoky and Sweet Kale Salad
Recipe courtesy of Chef Lara Yazvac
Makes 5–10 servings
1 large bunch leafy green kale, stems removed and leaves cut into small pieces
1½ cup butternut squash, cut into 1-inch cubes, then tossed in olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 450° until tender and starting to turn golden brown
1 can Great Northern or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1½ teaspoon smoked sea salt
4 teaspoons maple syrup
⅓ cup olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse cracked black pepper
Zest and juice of 1 large orange
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Gently mix all ingredients by hand or with tongs.
Allow to sit for 10 minutes so that flavors meld and acid from the citrus juice has time to tenderize the kale.
A childhood spent on 120 acres of land outside Granville, Ohio imbued Evelyn Frolking with a passion for uncompromisingly fresh food and the kind of self-sustaining lifestyle encompassed in farm life. Most recently, a fascination with small operation farming families led Evelyn to publish a book called, Homegrown: Stories from the Farm, which celebrated an official release on February 21 at the Granville Inn.
Evelyn's book delves into the nuances, struggles and beauty of local food production through the perspectives of six Ohio farming families: Ann and Tom Bird and their family of Bird's Haven Farms in Granville; Tom and Emma Stout of Osage Lane Creamery in Pataskala; Erin Harvey of The Kale Yard in Granville; Kathy and Rich Harrison of Skipping Stone Farm in Utica; Mike and Laura Laughlin of Northridge Organic Farm in Johnstown; and Warren and Victoria Taylor of Snowville Creamery in Pomeroy.
Sheila Campbell, owner of A La Carte Food Tours, calls herself a "food tourist." She believes that in Columbus, a restaurant and market-rich city, there are always intriguing flavors left unturned. After working for three decades as a dietician and managing medical nutrition communications for a pharmaceuticals company, Sheila decided to funnel her passions for exploring and eating into A La Carte, which operates group food tours covering districts, markets, flavors, ethnicities and ingredients. Though private and customizable tours are offered through coordination with Sheila, regularly scheduled tours can accommodate up to 10 people.
The 2013 tour schedule is posted on A La Carte's website, and includes upcoming visits to gluten-free bakeries, a wide swath of ethnic markets, a "Tasting Tour of German Village" and, for a bit more indulgence, a week long culinary tour of Costa Rica, happening this November, when every one of us will be ready to escape from the cold.
Below, Sheila shares some pearls of wisdom from her experiences leading tours, and encourages everyone to visit their local ethnic markets for new and exciting ingredients.
How long have you owned the business?
I have been taking foodies to Costa Rica for the past four years. But I have been leading 3-hour, Columbus-area tours only since May 2012.
What do you like about running a business in Columbus?
Columbus is a tremendous town for food, so there are always new venues and providers to investigate.
What's the oddest request you've ever received?
"Can I bring my dog?" Of course, this is not so strange when the name of the A La Carte Food Tour of interest was "Doggie Delights." (http://www.alacartecolumbus.com/doggie-delights-a-gourmet-food-tour-for-columbus-canis-lupus-familiaris-lovers.html)
Brent and Melissa Jenkins saw an opportunity in the snack market they were eager to fill: Combining gluten-free foods with hassle-free home delivery. Co-founders of Sprig, a "100% Gluten Free Monthly Artisan Food Subscrption," Brent and Melissa curate a wide selection of healthful foods produced by artisanal makers across the country. Each month, participants receive a box in the mail filled with unique, small-batch snacks, all of which are gluten-free, while a vast majority are organic and vegan. Sprig boxes make it easier to branch out, amp up lunch boxes, make smarter afternoon snack choices and enjoy unique products that might otherwise be hard to find.
A sampling in a Sprig box might include: Organic dried fruit, salt and pepper sunflower seeds, rosemary and orange pecans, raw maple almonds, non-GMO popcorn, organic cocoa nibs, raw trail mix, gluten-free cookies, raw sesame chocolate bars, organic macaroons, gluten-free carrot chips, vegan chocolate, organic tortilla chips and more.
To sign up for the membership, visit www.sprigbox.com, choose their level of snackage ("Snacker," "Mini-Snacker," or "Grand Snacker") and await a delivery, which are sent out on the 10th of every month. Below, learn more about the Jenkins, their business, some of the most popuar products, and enjoy a recipe for hearty Broccoli and Mushrooms with Wild Rice.
How long have you owned the business?
What do you like about running a business in Columbus?
Columbus is a great mix of consumers for starting a business as well as testing a business. Due to the diversity of our business and also the vortex the Columbus food scene offers, we found that our business will thrive just locally with our vendors and partners.
What's the oddest request you've ever received?
Can we cater an event with our snacks!
What advice do you have for potential business owners?
Take a leap as soon as possible to starting your own passion.
Dave Filipi is Director of Film & Video at the Wexner Center for the Arts, where the fourth annual Field & Screen series will commence this February. The series takes a closer look at topics surrounding our food and environment, screening a number of films throughout the month, entirely open to the public. This year's films include the journeys of foragers, the radioactive repercussions of the 2011 Japanese tsunami, a popular safari park in Quebec and a look into our global sushi obsession, among others.
Along with regular film screenings, a panel discussion organized by Ohio State's Department of Art's Living Culture will follow the February 7 showing of "Covenant", which peers into raising livestock and the complexities of human-to-animal bonds. Before the Valentine's Day showing of "Step Up to the Plate", Heirloom Cafe, located inside the Wexner Center, will offer a special menu.
We are looking forward to this year's intriguing lineup, and we're pleased to learn more from curator Dave Filipi about the process of film selection, the origins of Field & Screen and which films are on his radar this year.
As long as she's been crafting gourmet chocolates, Stacey Peters has incorporated the flavors of local purveyors into her truffles and bars.
Featured in an article from our winter issue, Stacy describes how intrinsic Ohio-sourced ingredients are to her products and home-based company, O'Chocolate. “Chocolate is the perfect medium for exhibiting local vendors’ products. I find a unique local product and design a bar or truffle to showcase it.”
Last fall, Stacy collaborated with a handful of local producers to create the 614 Bar, celebrating our capital city from the packaging to the ingredients. An organic, fair trade dark chocolate provides the base for the bar. Peanuts from Krema Nut Company are roasted and candied with Sticky Pete's maple syrup. Then, subtle heat is added with Scotty McHotty's hot pepper blend, grown in Plain City by Scott Wheeler, husband of our Publisher and Editor-in-Chief, Tricia! The sweet and spicy nuts are folded into the dark chocolate and finished with a smattering of currants and sea salt for balance. The result is a snappy bar nicknamed the "Surly Buckeye with Currants."
In October, brew master Matthew Barbee, his mother Judy Smalley, and stepfather Dennis Smalley were extraordinary kind to join Edible Columbus in hosting a progressive dinner on the grounds of their brewery. Surrounded by peak foliage and rolling hills still flushed with green, Rockmill Brewery was transformed to welcome 65 guests for an a meal celebrating the autumn harvest, seasonal ingredients and delicious beer.
In 2011, Celebrate Local opened with intentions of temporarily "popping up" for the holiday season. With around 65 original vendors, the store's goal of supporting small, Ohio-based businesses quickly gained momentum and garnered support. Now, Celebrate Local is celebrating the announcement of a new, permanent space in Easton Town Center, and is finding creative ways to incorporate 220+ vendors - a testament to its success.
Through the Christmas holiday, Celebrate Local will remain open at its current location in Easton's North District, situated between American Eagle and Kay Jewelers. Transition to the new space, one just shy of 3,000 square feet, will begin in January 2013. Co-Creator Heidi Maybruck expects a seamless move to the newly renovated storefront, which is located between Panera Bread and Restoration Hardware across from Crate & Barrel.
When Janine Aquino purchased Camelot Cellars last year, the Short North winery received quite the makeover. Janine helped usher in a rustic and welcoming aesthetic, complete with a handsome wooden bar and floor-to-ceiling "wall of wine" flanking one side of the room. Options for enjoying wine at Camelot Cellars run the gamut from wine flights to tastings at the bar, all the way to crafting personalized wine varietals, including custom label design.
Artisan cheese and charcuterie plates can be paired with wine choices, and include wines made in-house and from around the world. Outside the winery, Camelot Cellars is available at dozens of stores around Columbus, and is being poured at a handful of area restaurants. (Find the full listing here.) Janine generously pairs a red and white wine selection from Camelot Cellars with featured menus at our evening cooking classes, currently held at MI Homes in Easton. Beyond that, she's extraordinarily busy! See the full Camelot Cellars calendar for upcoming tastings, happy hours, music events, and dinners, including some regular tastings at Celebrate Local in Easton.
What is your role?
I am the Proprietor of Camelot Cellars Winery in the Short North Arts District
How long have you been in the business?
I bought Camelot February 2011, but have been involved with wine my entire life. I’m a fourth generation wine professional.