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Hot Sauce that Brings People Together

August 21, 2018

The Slow Food Nations gathering in Denver, CO, was the perfect way to kick off VFN’s new conference scholarship program. We were looking for nationally significant gatherings that would appeal to our full membership (chefs, farmers, and specialty food producers) and were also events that past attendees from Vermont could vouch for. Slow Food Nations gets rave reviews all around. David Morgan, a 2017 attendee, wrote "The events and the other attendees at Slow Food Nations were truly inspiring. It was an amazing event that renewed my hope for a future of good, clean and fair food for all." Mara Welton, Slow Food Vermont Board Chair endorses it with “The stellar programming from the marketplace to the workshops to the speakers is the best I’ve experienced at any Slow Food conference, anywhere.”  

Our first two scholarship recipients agreed. Claire Georges, founder and owner of Butterfly Bakery in Montpelier and Bill Cavanaugh, a meat specialist managing business incubation at the Mad River Food Hub, both went to Denver this past July with a VFN conference scholarship, and are now implementing projects to share what they learned back here in Vermont.

Claire Fitts Georges of Butterfly Bakery signed up for as many sessions as could fit in a day, exploring culture, flavor, and how food can be used for change. At the VFN Annual Forum Dinner, she released a new hot sauce in honor of the event. In coming up with her “Partners & Pairings” hot sauce flavor Claire was inspired by all the discussion during the Slow Food Nations of the importance of relationships - between people and between flavors.

"I think that as we adapt the local food movement to the global food system, relationships will be so important to ensure the quality of the food we eat. We need to know where our food comes from and who is making it, " said Claire. Her entire hot sauce line can be said to embody that spirit, as we profiled a year ago in this Fresh Feed article. Claire is augmenting the educational part of her project with an article for Local Banquet magazine on her experience.

"Partners and Pairings" brings together lemon with local cucumbers and serrano peppers for a flavorful hot sauce with a nice kick.  “I wanted it to complement the amazing flavors that farmers and food producers are creating, so I wanted the hot sauce to have some kick, but not be crazy hot. I’m very aware of how well-made and well-grown food has so many more flavors and nuances compared to mass-market foods and didn’t want the final hot sauce to obliterate that. Cucumber and lemon are flavors that complement a wide variety of foods. And more literally, I had a Salted Cucumber Hard Cider from Stem Ciders when I was at the conference that was fantastic and it made me a little obsessed with cucumbers.”  

If you’re interested in Partners and Pairings hot sauce stop by the Butterfly Bakery table at the Montpelier’s farmers market or visit their online store (Batch #1781). All proceeds from sales of Partners and Pairings will be donated to VFN’s Conference Scholarship Program

Scholarship recipient Bill Cavanaugh of the Mad River Food Hub spent the first day of Slow Food Nations attending the Slow Food Leadership summit which included smaller focused sessions designed for those leaders in the food movement who want to have an active voice in the future of food. The leadership summit offered Bill an opportunity to explore food policies and initiatives to support sustainable farming and biodiversity among other topics important to the future of food in Vermont.

Inspired by his Slow Food Nations experience, Bill will be hosting a series of “Meat and Mingle” butchery demonstrations and charcuterie tastings at Mad River Taste Place. These events will offer community members an opportunity to celebrate local food, meet the farmers and the makers who are raising pork locally as well as those making charcuterie in the Mad River Valley. The first will be held on September 21st in collaboration with von Trapp Farmstead and Babette’s Table. 

We look forward to having more of the food system community experience more food conferences and share in what they learn. The next recipient of Vermont Fresh Networks’ conference scholarship program will be attending the Food Tank Issues Summit on Food Loss and Food Waste in NYC on October 3.

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