The Valley Table awarded Dr. Sam Simon of Hudson Valley Fresh and Chef John Novi of the Depuy Canal House with the 2013 Valley Table Farm-to-Table Awards, recognizing them for their leadership in promoting sustainable agriculture and advancing the Hudson Valley as a premier food region. Janet Crawshaw, publisher of The Valley Table and founder of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week presented the awards during the event’s launch party at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park on Feb. 19.
“It’s important to recognize the people who are helping to expand upon everything this region has to offer,” Crawshaw says. “Hudson Valley Restaurant Week highlights our vibrant food scene, which we have due to the committed farmers, local purveyors and leaders such as Sam and John. They make it all possible.”
Dr. Sam Simon grew up on a dairy farm in Orange County and kept the farm going, even while he was in medical school, before becoming an orthopedic surgeon. He returned to dairy farming after retirement and formed Hudson Valley Fresh, a non-profit dairy cooperative, in 2005. The co-op started producing and distributing quality milk and today offer additional products including half and half, heavy cream, sour cream and yogurt. Hudson Valley Fresh products are sustainably raised, anti-biotic- and hormone-free and nutritionally superior.
Collectively Hudson Valley Fresh members have kept 8,000 acres of Hudson Valley farm land in operation (10 family farms are members as of this month), and most importantly, Hudson Valley Fresh guarantees a price that brings the farmers sustainable wages, demonstrating that the milk business can be both sustainable and profitable.
Chef John Novi has been recognized for his early commitment to local farms and credited for popularizing the use of locally-sourced ingredients. Fellow restaurateurs have named him “the Father of New American Cooking” in TIME Magazine.* A history buff and resident of High Falls, Novi was interested in the former abandoned D & H Canal. He purchased the building in 1964 and opened the Depuy Canal House five years later, using local products whenever he could and encouraging nearby farmers to expand their offerings. He has been instrumental in the development of the Rondout Valley Growers Association, a non-profit community organization comprising of local farmers, residents and businesses committed to strengthening the region’s family farms and preserving agricultural open space for future generations.
The 2013 award winners received a handcrafted table, made from locally-sourced black walnut, designed by local artisan Jessica Wickham. The Farm-to-Table award was established in 2012, and Dr. Tim Ryan, President of the Culinary Institute of America, was the first honoree.
In 1996, Janet Crawshaw and Jerry Novesky took an eight-month sabbatical, traveling 35,000 miles across the country seeking authentic American experiences. They found that local farms, bakeries, fish markets, wineries and breweries were the key to understanding the country’s distinct regions. Inspired by their trip and the Chefs Collaborative, an educational sustainable food movement, the couple returned to their home in the Hudson Valley with a mission to awaken the region’s food consciousness. In 1998, they launched The Valley Table, a colorful quarterly, magazine that celebrates the agricultural heritage and cuisine of the region, leading the development of the Hudson Valley’s local food movement.
Crawshaw and Novesky launched Hudson Valley Restaurant Week in 2006 with a distinguished board of advisors, including chefs, restaurateurs and tourism leaders. The two-week culinary event premiered with 70 restaurants. Today, with more than 170 participating restaurants spanning seven counties it is among the largest Restaurant Week events in the country, involving farmers, growers, wine makers and chefs. Participating counties include Dutchess, Westchester, Columbia, Orange, Putnam, Rockland and Ulster.