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Alberg Rants: One Busy September
In September as tourism business slows in the Berkshires, I take a break from working the line and prepping for dinner service and focus on building awareness about the culinary strengths of our region. I do this with The Red Lion Inn supporting my efforts working alongside fellow like-minded restaurants because I believe the whole is made up of the sum of its parts.
My schedule this September made the month fly by; one day the leaves were green, the next day orange! Here’s a rundown of the regional food events that took place this past month. There’s more to come so stay tuned!
The Cupcake Wars – On September 2, I got to judge Cupcake Wars at the Columbia County Fair alongside a few of my favorite chefs… Daire, Rachel and Josephine, all chefs at local restaurants here in the ‘Shire and Hudson Valley. All I have to say is 250 cupcakes is WAY too many cupcakes to have to taste in one day! Regardless, the judging will air on a popular food network giving cred to our region! Check out the winners here.
Outstanding in the Field – On September 7 and 8, the Outstanding team returned to the ‘Shire – this year, adding a second event showcasing the local lamb and views of Lila Berle’s farm. This dinner was prepared by the caring hand of Dan Smith, chef-owner of John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant in South Egremont.
It was a pleasure to work again with the Outstanding crew. My dinner took place at Hancock Shaker Village in Pittsfield, the home of the first farmers to package seeds to sell. Both dinners hosted 140-plus guests at each farm with about 80 percent of the guests coming from outside the Berkshire region in our ‘off-season’…that is a GREAT thing!
Berkshire Grown’s Harvest Supper – This year’s supper featured local restaurants showcasing regional foods to local residents strengthening our relationships and demonstrating our love for community. The September 16 event was held at Ski Butternut and we welcomed 80 more guests than last year… it was a great success and all were happy with the new location. Learn more about Berkshire Grown here.
WGBH Chef’s Gala for the Food and Wine Festival in Boston – As the only non-Boston chef playing with the fairly closed clique of the metropolitan chef scene, I tried to break down the perception to Bostonians that the world ends after Worcester. I think we made some headway on September 19! It was a very successful event and a great lead-in to the Artisan Taste and Live Cooking Demo that took place two days later. The amount of work, the distance we drove, and the overall sense of hospitality that my staff showed by being there was really worthwhile. We received great accolades from guests, chefs, restaurant owners and event coordinators… It is very rewarding to feed people who care about food and who are genuinely interested in our craft…
I LOVE and LIVE for this shit!
We’re looking ahead to October for the James Beard Foundation’s Beard Taste America when we head to Boston to cook in one of the ten-city stops across America and and in November a Chefs Collaborative Dinner at Hotchkiss School for 800. Then, onto a little holiday called Thanksgiving when we serve up 80 turkeys to 675 guests followed by Christmas and New Year’s week. Following the holiday ‘break’ we move onto prepping for the Berkshire Cure-All Dinner at the James Beard Foundation in NYC. Save the date for Wednesday, March 12th!