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Recovery Kitchen celebrates local farmers

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Chef Tommy Carlucci (third on r) talks to the gathering about the process of creating a menu. Photo by David Lee

HUDSON – It has been three years since the Columbia County Recovery Kitchen (CCRK) started its operation to serve fresh, healthy, locally sourced meals to people in the county who would otherwise have difficulty finding such within their abilities and/or budgets. In that time the restrictions of the pandemic have eased and the organization has evolved, but one thing remains consistent; the importance of local farmers to the process.

So on Saturday evening, March 18, a soiree was organized to thank the local farmers who have shared their harvest. The location was the community room of the Christ Church Episcopal. This is also the location of the kitchen where CCRK meals are prepared. In keeping with the CCRK ambition of providing gourmet quality meals for free distribution around the county, beautiful finger foods were created for the event such as beer braised beef kielbasa with country mustard, smoked trout mousse on bagel and Swedish meatballs. Many of the approximately 27 farmers who supply CCRK were in attendance.
“We wanted to provide the same quality of food as one would get from a restaurant,” said organization founder Carol Clark, “sourced not from food banks but fresh and local. It has been extraordinary working with these farmers.”
Chef Tommy Carlucci spoke to the group. He first saluted all of the more than 100 volunteers who make the project work from drivers to grant writers and website managers and cooks. Then he pulled back the curtain a bit on how the kitchen works.
“I never know what’s coming or in what quantity — it depends on the season and what farmers have. And then we decide what’s going on the menu. Myself and the kitchen volunteers figure it out quickly and go with the flow. It may be 30 pounds of potatoes or several dozen eggs and we have to figure out how to concoct up to 300 meals for that day. We are excited to see what comes next,” he said.
Providers for the evening’s event were Churchtown Dairy (cheese), Choice Farm and Dirty Dog Farm (beef), Fat Apple Farm (pork and eggs), Hudson Valley Creamery (chèvre), Wally Farms (greens), Eli Arnow (venison), Suarez Family Brewery, Hudson Brewing Co. Hudson Bagels, Price Chopper (for trout that can’t be sourced locally) and Fairview Wines and Liquors. Assisting Chef Carlucci in the kitchen was Bruce O’Donnell, Craig Dillon, Carole Clark, Nancy Kuster, B. Kennedy, Joanne Klein, Andrew Zeiff and Jean Feinberg.
Pam Kline, one of the founding members, said that they are always trying to think of new ideas.
“We came up with the idea of volunteer gleaners who would work outside in the fields. Half of their harvest would go to the farmers and half to the kitchen. We have a pilot project started with a couple of farms.”
CCRK has 110 volunteers of which 60 are drivers and 15 are cooks. 200-300 meals are prepared each day except Monday which is usually about 150. The organization works in cooperation with Columbia County DSS, the Columbia County Sanctuary Movement, public school counselors, the Hudson Youth Center, and also gets referrals from medical offices, neighbors, and even self-referrals.

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