Interview by Kristie Snyder,
Central Kitchen Manager Matt McLaren, on the job since April, has deep roots at GreenStar. Find out what brought him back to the Co-op and why you should be excited about the kitchen's new offerings in the Q and A below.
Where are you from?
I grew up in Ithaca. My family's been affiliated with GreenStar since the original days. We were part of the "human chain" [that moved product from one store to another during a relocation] and worked at the Cayuga Street store. I was a recognizable young face at that store. Since then, I've worked all over the country in restaurants and catering — I've pretty much seen it all in the food service industry.
And what brought you back to GreenStar?
After being away from Ithaca for a while, I realized what a wonderful community it is, and moved back with the intention of starting a family [which he did — Matt and his partner, Allegra, have a five-month-old son, Wes]. I was looking for a more meaningful career, and that's what brought me to GreenStar. This is the first job I've had where my workplace is in line with my beliefs and philosophies, and I really strongly believe in the mission of this place and its role in the community. I feel good about the work I'm doing and who I work for.
By Julian Montijo
When I met Peggy Aker, owner and founder of Macro Mamas, at the Ithaca Farmers Market on a sunny Saturday morning, there was already a line of people waiting to order from the stand. Her vegan, macrobiotic meals are packed with energizing, local, and in-season ingredients, making Macro Mamas one of the most beloved vendors at the market, and at GreenStar, where Macro Mamas' Macro Meals and Peanut Lime Noodles can be found in the Deli.
Macro Mamas has seen immense growth since its founding in 1992, with its farm-fresh philosophy right on time and aligned with the macrobiotics movement. The macrobiotic way, similar to a farm-to-table diet, emphasizes eating locally and in keeping with the season, while also avoiding processed foods. With seasonal, energy-dense meals as its focal point, Macro Mamas represents a collaboration of local farmers and people who love to cook, working both with and for the community.
Macro Mamas has its roots in Hector — the business bloomed in Peggy's own garden. "I'm totally inspired in the garden," she said. It was there she began to grow a lot of her own food, to cultivate what she needed for a macrobiotic diet. Following her lifelong passion for cooking and gardening, she decided to make a career out of it, gardening five days a week and selling her produce at the weekend farmers market. From there, she began designing and selling meals using only the produce she grew. As the Macro Mamas stand grew in popularity and the demand for her meals became greater than her own garden could provide for, Peggy began to work with local organic farmers. At this point, she has a great relationship with the farmers, enabling Macro Mamas to have a year-round supply of fresh, seasonal ingredients.
By Kristie Snyder,
Chad Smith has been cooking since he was 12, and he's excited about bringing GreenStar shoppers the best hot-bar in town — all-natural, organic, local, fresh, tasty, and ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week.
As GreenStar's new West-End Store Deli Manager, Chad's focus as a manager is on customer service and providing delicious, healthy, and organic food choices. Chad came to GreenStar from Cornell Dining, and after a year and a half as Assistant Manager he was promoted to the Manager position. New to the world of co-ops when he joined GreenStar, it was the cooperative atmosphere that attracted him. "People choose to work here — they enjoy it, and everyone seems to be happy here," he said.
Chad, working with new Central Kitchen Manager Matt McLaren, plans to increase the amount of organic and local ingredients in the Deli's offerings, both in the service case and on the hot bar. "Right now the salad bar is all-organic," he said. "The challenge is to move to all-organic on the hot bar while keeping it affordable. Membership is asking for it, so we're trying to go in that direction."
Look for some changes to the hot bar coming as soon as this month, as recipes will be added and updated for the summer to showcase local farms and local products. "We'd like to make the connection from the customer to the farmer through our deli case," Chad said.
New in the Deli
|Don't Forget the Cheese|
Stop by our cheese case for new cultured, organic vegan cheese from Miyoko's Kitchen.
We'd like to introduce Miyoko's Kitchen, producers of an organic cultured nut product — in other words, a vegan, artisanal cheese alternative. We've brought in all ten varieties to see how you like them and will keep the top sellers to offer in our cheese case: Classic Double Cream Chive, Double Cream Sun-dried Tomato Garlic, Double Cream Garlic Herb, High Sierra Rustic Alpine, Aged English Smoked Farmhouse, Aged English Sharp Farmhouse, Mt. Vesuvius Black Ash, Country Style Herbes de Provence, Fresh Loire Valley in a Fig Leaf, and French Style Winter Truffle. With a selection like this, there should be a flavor to please any palate! I'd also like to mention an addition to the raw section of the case: Grafton Village Cheese, hand-crafted in Vermont for over 100 years. Once you have a taste, I think you'll agree they've perfected the art of cheese making. There are a lot of great things happening in the cheese case these days, so be sure to stop in.