It’s not every day that a politician cooks for you.
But this is a special politician. Ron Strouse was a very successful professional chef and innkeeper way before he accepted the job of Mayor of Doylestown Borough less than two years ago. But he’s willing to trot out his stuff for a good cause. This time it’s the Doylestown Food Co-op’s Inaugural Celebrity Chef Farm to Table Dinner at the Bucks County Audubon Society at Honey Hollow. The annual fundraiser will take place on Saturday, August 22. I got a chance to chat with Ron about the menu and how he came to be where he is.
BCT: How did you get involved with this event?
RS: The only chefing I do any more is to benefit a community organization. In this case, it was easy. I’m really excited to have the Doylestown Food Co-op in the borough and I want to help them succeed in any way I can. But it’s also fun because I have an opportunity to find new sources for ingredients that have only become available more recently.
BCT: So, what are your culinary “chops?”
RS: I’ve done a lot of things in my life – including working in the US House of Representatives – but many people know me from my restaurant and hospitality career. I got my professional chef training at the Restaurant School in Philadelphia. I then attended the La Varenne cooking school in Paris. In the late 70’s, I opened the Sign of the Sorrel Horse here in Bucks. It was fun and very successful, but it was also very intense. I wanted to be involved in the community and a restaurant schedule doesn’t allow for that.
Evermay-on-the-Delaware was the solution to me not getting burnt out. We offered a prix fixe dinner, with choice of entrees, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. We also had 18 guest rooms, and did corporate business during the week. We were the original owners, and ran it for 15 years.
BCT: You’ve been involved in food in Bucks for a long time. How have things changed here?
RS: Yes, I grew up about two miles outside Doylestown, but have also lived in Washington DC and New York City. But things have changed dramatically. We now have access to such good local ingredients. When I was growing up here it was very much a farm-based economy but not many farms sold direct to consumers.
I’m not into all the food shows. I’m more interested in the “earthy” side. And there’s really nothing new about eating seasonally (they’ve always done it in Italy!). This current attention to sourcing and eating seasonal is not just a trend. People have been eating this way for years.
BCT: Can you give us a peek at the menu for the August 22 event?
RS: It’s a five-course meal, beginning with passed hors d’oeuvres including a spicy ratatouille, a lentil yoghurt salad and a country pate on a red potato coin (and a couple more). With the exception of the entrée – which will be served straight from the grill – all the courses will be served tableside, starting with a Chilled Double Tomato Soup (both fresh heirloom and oven-dried tomatoes).
The second course is a Roasted Beet, Peach and Goat Cheese Tower with a balsamic reduction dressing. The third course is Kale with Solebury Orchards Gala apples, Red Onions, and dressing made with Doylestown Cemetery Maple Syrup.
BCT: Did I hear you right? “Doylestown Cemetery Maple Syrup?”
RS: Yes. They tap the sugar maple trees in the cemetery in March and make maple syrup from it.
BCT: What comes next?
RS: For the entrée, guests will have a choice of Honey Lemon Garlic Chicken on a Corn and Zucchini Sauté, Grilled Marinated Summer Sausage with an Eggplant Onion Caponata, or a Cassoulet served with Polenta. There will also be vegetarian options.
BCT: And dessert?
RS: A Ginger Molasses Cake with Peach Ice Cream. The peaches are from Solebury Orchards and the ginger from Barefoot Gardens.
BCT: What are you most looking forward to in this event?
RS: It will be a fun evening. People who are attracted to a Doylestown Food Co-op Farm-to-Table dinner are interested in food and community. They are prepared to enjoy the evening, the ambiance of Honey Hollow, and, of course, the food. I’ll be in the kitchen most of the evening so I’m looking forward to the entrée where people will come to the grill. Then I can interact with folks.
Details about the Doylestown Food Co-op’s Inaugural Celebrity Chef Farm to Table Dinner
WHEN: Saturday, August 22, 2015, 6 – 9 pm
WHAT: A five-course meal, sourced from local farms, organic and non-GMO ingredients
WHERE: Bucks County Audubon Society at Honey Hollow, 2877 Creamery Rd, New Hope, PA
TICKETS: $75.00 for Doylestown Food Coop members and $95.00 for non-members; to reserve your place visit farmtotable.doylestown.coop/
MORE: The dining experience will be accompanied by a silent auction and music by local jazz quartet “Jazz with Friends.” The Co-op is currently accepting volunteers for the event and sponsorship inquiries. The dinner is BYOB.
About The Doylestown Food Co-op:
The Doylestown Food Co-op’s mission is to be a member-owned grocery store that provides convenient access to a variety of locally raised or produced foods and other products and to foster a healthy and economically viable environment for our farmers and our community.
The Doylestown Food Co-op is focused on sustaining a healthy planet, promoting environmentally sound products and practices, supporting local and organic farming, and trying to be environmentally conscious in all its endeavors.
Through building lasting interdependent relationships, The Doylestown Food Co-op embraces diversity, provides accessibility, and generously gives back to its local community by supporting local businesses, wholesalers, community groups and institutions.
Incorporated as a Pennsylvania non-profit cooperative in April 2010, the Doylestown Food Co-op officially opened a 1,400 square foot, phase one store in the center of Doylestown borough at 29 West State Street in 2014. This full service grocery store provides locally sourced produce, meat, dairy, baked goods, jams, sauces, household and personal goods. The Doylestown Food Co-op currently has over 500 member families.