At least Abbe, Rachel and myself have arrived safely in Cleveland after a very long day of westward travel. Tomorrow we’re all back to our jobs and routines, but we look forward to continuing to share the stories and dream about what it all might mean for us and for Cleveland.
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Turino, a bustling city of nearly 1 million people, is a manufacturing town. As an “observer” of Terra Madre, I had the good fortune to stay in a small hotel near the Via Roma and the heart of the old city because I had to make my own accommodations. Having breakfast in the lovely sunroom dining room with Alice Waters and her entourage at the next table was quite a thrill, but at the same time, I was on my own to travel by bus to the meeting places and back to the hotel. I hope our delegates found their way to my part of the city because the Lingotto and Olympic Stadium where all the Terra Madre events were held are pretty gritty, set in the middle of the former Fiat headquarters and manufacturing facilities. Here is a photo of a massive walkway that connected the Olympic Stadium (where the opening and closing events were held) and the Lingotto (where the workshops and Salone Del Gusto were held.) The 2006 Winter Olympics were held here.
Matt and Rachel were housed in a military garrison within walking distance of the Olympic Stadium. Paul and his wife were in a Meridien Hotel that was converted from part of the Fiat Headquarters in the Lingotto. I think all the others were housed outside the city in small hotels, with volunteers, or in a safe house. (Abbe was greeted by a nun!) So like the perverbial blind feeling the elephant, we all experienced a different part of Turino. I hope when we meet again in Cleveland, we can create the collage that was our collective experience.
Meanwhile, as I entered the bus at the train station for the twenty minute ride to the Salone on Saturday morning, a young couple with Terra Madre ID badges said hello in English, a welcome sound in many ways. Jeffrey and Debra Eschemeyer were from New Knoxville, Ohio! They had travelled to my part of the city to see the sites and were headed back to the Salone. When we arrived I took their photo.
It was energizing to see so many young people at the USA meeting the day before and Jeffrey and Debra seem to be typical of this new generation of farmers. They had paid their own way to get to Terra Madre. There was only one other delegate from Ohio in addition to our eleven. And all of our delegates were supported financially by the Northern Ohio Convivium, another indication of our community’s support for local food and food producers.
Finding that manufacturing in Turin was on the wane, the city decided to add food to its list of attractions. The first Salone was held in 1996 in a small corner of the Lingotto, but by 1998 a formula that focused on artisan and peasant foods from around the world that turned an elitist approach to gastronomy upside down, attracted 120,000 visitors. In 2002 the Slow Food awards were part of the Salone, and led logically to the first Terra Madre event in 2004. So a commitment to small-scale, sustainable, local food model, which are the princlples of Slow Food, may be providing an economic engine, not simply for the thousands of farmers from around the world who believe in these princlples as well, but for Turino itself as it moves into the new century. Is this something Northeast Ohio should be considering?
A few samples from the Salone:
Paul is the Chef-owner of the Baricelli Inn in Cleveland’s Little Italy. The Baricelli Inn was named the Top Cleveland Restaurant in the 2008 Zagat Survey, on the list of Gourment Magazine’s Best 50 Restaurants in America, and has been recognized by Food and Wine and The Chicago Tribune among the finest dining destinations in the Midwest.
Equally important as his leadership in the food industry, Paul has been a mentor and teacher of young chefs and food entrepreneurs in Northeast Ohio. Having trained in New York and Europe, Paul has brought to Cleveland fresh and innovative ideas, such as is affinage room where he “blooms” artisanal cheeses from around the world. Let’s hope that Paul will return to Cleveland from Terra Madre with more ideas for local farmers and producers.
Speaking of producers, Abbe Turner was on the plane with Paul from Newark. Abbe is an aspiring goat cheese maker with a beautiful herd of Nubian and Alpine dairy goats on her Lucky Penny Farm in Garrettsville, Ohio. She and her artist husband, Anderson, are raising three children on the farm along with chickens, vegetables, apples, and pears. While she is raising money for her commercial creamery, Abbe home produces a goat’s milk caramel sauce called Cajeta which is served in Cleveland restaurants and at Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams in Columbus, Ohio.
By the end of the bus ride from Milan to Turin, Abbe had already made two terrific contacts, one with Jody Farnham, Program Coordinator at the Vermont Institute or Artisan Cheese. Through the workshops and connections made at Terra Madre, Abbe should have lots of good ideas to bring back to Cleveland to help launch her goat cheese business.
Two other Cleveland delegates on the flight from Newark were Hatt Harlan, chef at Lolita in Tremont, and Rachel McKinney, a teacher at Hershey Montessori School Adolescent Program on the farm in Huntsburg, Ohio.
Matt is a native Clevelander who got into the kitchen by way of a fist fight. Growing up in Lakewood with seven siblings and parents who worked at LTV Steele, Matt started working as a roofer in his teens. That career was abandoned when a neighborhood altercation left him with a broken jaw and an opportunity to work in the kitchen at Players materialized. He joined Michael Symon’s Lola in 1997 six months after opening. Michael eventually sent him to work for Thomas Keller at the French Laundry where he had the “easy” prep shift from 5 am to 5 pm for six months. He is now the chef at Lolita, another Symon restaurant, and hopes to learn more about how to go local and stay local in the restaurant business. The Terra Madre workshop, “Sustainability in the Restaurant, Sustainability of Restaurants” sounds like a good start.
Rachel McKinney grew up on a diversified farm that straddled Ohio and Pennsylvania. She attended the College of Wooster and received a B.A. in Biology. While in college, she worked with Drs. Ben and Deb Stinner in Ben’s research lab at the OARDC in Wooster, Ohio. Dr. Stinner was a leading researcher in the fields of sustainable and organic agriculture. After several years of teaching experientially in outdoor education programs in South Carolina and New York’s Catskills mountains, she returned to Ohio where she taught at Old Trail School. She also worked at Silver Creek Farm in Hiram where she coordinated educational groups and assisted in the management of a large CSA program.
She currently teaches 9th grade biology and geometry at Hershey Montessori School Adolescent Program on the farm in Huntsburg, Ohio. Students from around the country and the world live, work, and learn on the land and lessons are integrated with the farm, garden, and surrounding woods. She also assists with farm duties as well as in the gardens and bioshelter. During the summer, she coordinates a 12-member CSA that shares in the harvest of the 1-acre gardens.
While there appear to be many farmer/educators in attendance at Terra Madre, Rachel is also looking forward to the music as she is an old-time banjo player with a few local string bands in Northeast Ohio. We’re just sorry she didn’t bring the banjo along!
The first major event of Terra Madre begins with an opening Plenary Session at the Olympic Stadium on Thursday afternoon. The cavernous space was being readied today with microphones, lights, cameras, projectors, banners, and video equipment. Behind it all we were offered a buffet lunch of foods from Piedmonte, the region of Turino.
Tomorrow, I hope to catch up with the rest of the delegation…
On October 23rd as many as 7,000 farmers, chefs, bakers, educators and students from around the world are scheduled to gather in Turin, Italy, for fours days of celebration and sharing their knowledge and love of local foods. Twelve people from Northeast Ohio will be among them.
Slow Food International has sponsored this world event every other year since 2004 and each year Northeast Ohio has been represented by some of our best chefs and farmers. Our region is a leader in supporting the local food movement through farmers markets, chefs who serve local foods, farmers who are committed to raising diverse food products for local consumption. We are so fortunate to have such talent to send!
The 2008 delegates are: chefs Matt Harlan of Lolita, Jonathon Sawyer of Bar Cento, Paul Minnillo of Baricelli Inn, and David Uecke, most recently at Anthe’s Restaurant. Four farmers attending are Aaron Miller from Miller Livestock, Cindy and Terry Smith from Goatfeathers Point Farm, and Abbe Turner from Lucky Penny Farm. Bakers Adam and Jennifer Gidlow who own On the Rise Bakery will be joined by Rachel McKinney who teaches at the Hersey Montessori Farm School in Huntsburg, Ohio. I will go along as an observer and plan to post stories and pictures so that folks in Cleveland can share some of the excitement of this extraordinary event. To learn more now, go to www.slowfood.com. And stay tuned here for more updates on our delegation. Mary