Adam Lee of the Sprouted Table believes that food should be a community experience.
"We are trying to build a community around food, and at our events, people share tables with people they do not know, and so it's more like a community table," Lee said.
Through the Sprouted Table, a farm-to-table event business, Lee is bringing progressive food and sustainable eating practices to the Valley.
Adam Lee, founder and chef with the Sprouted Table
The Sprouted Table has hosted events at the Davis Education and Visitor Center at the Fellows Riverside Gardens at Mill Creek MetroParks in Youngstown, Magic Tree Pub and Eatery in Boardman, the Lemon Grove Cafe in Youngstown and Catullo Prime Meats in Boardman.
"I was interested in locally produced food and doing private parties," Lee said. "We cook seasonal American cuisine inspired by the slow food movement incorporating heirloom vegetables and lesser cuts of meat.
''We also make varieties of cured meat items, varieties of sausages and head cheese. We try to incorporate those foods and we have a spread of seasonal vegetables, cured meats, jams, conserves, pickles, crostini, breads, crackers and artisanal local cheeses. We try to do as much organic as possible."
On Jan. 17, at Catullo Prime Meats, located at 7127 Tiffany Blvd. in Poland, the Sprouted Table is hosting a Street Food Party and Hog Butchering Workshop from 6:30 to 9 p.m. For tickets for this event and other Sprouted Table events, call 330-967-0844, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.catullostreetfood.brownpapertickets.com.
Education is as much a part of Sprouted Table events as the food.
"Another aspect we are trying to bring to the Sprouted Table is educational workshops on fermentation, butcher demonstrations, wild foods, preservation methods and cooking classes," Lee said. "I feel that using locally grown foods, heirloom vegetables and varieties of produce showcases the diversity. It's more fresh, colorful and interesting to people's eyes and this taps into people's emotional connection of knowing where their food is coming from."
Rasul Welch, media specialist and chef with the Sprouted Table, said he worked as a food photographer for the past 12 years and has learned a lot about local food production.
"I wouldn't be working as a chef at all if Adam hadn't pulled me in, and I had never considered cooking professionally until I met him," Welch said. "Before working with Adam, I was unaware that heirloom quality vegetables were being produced locally. I was trying to stick with less wasteful, more responsible, more local cooking at home, but had no idea that I could get great veggies without growing them myself."
Welch said that Lee introduced him to various regional and local farmers, foragers and artisans. He said from networking with Lee, he learned a lot about local food culture in the past year.
Lee said that the Sprouted Table is striving to make three types of meals: the one-pot meal, seasonal stew with bread and salad, and a gastropub-themed event.
"With the gastropub themed events, we want to host these events at a venue that has microbrews," he said. "The gastropub events are slightly casual, but with fancy appetizers, seasonal spreads, and any foods paired with quality beers."
On Jan. 17, at Catullo Prime Meats in Poland, the Sprouted Table will host a Street Food Party and Hog Butchering Workshop.
"For this event, we are hosting a hog curing and this event will be a mingling kind of event with high-top tables," Lee said. "There will be a hog that we brought from the non-profit farm, Lamppost Farm in Columbiana. They raise Berkshire hogs. Danny Catullo, owner and operator of Catullo Prime Meats, is going to do a butcher demonstration."
Welch said that the Sprouted Table's educational workshops are new, but have made an excellent impact on the community.
"Our patrons also have responded well to our workshops and love that we are willing to share what others might keep secret," Welch said.
Steve Montgomery, executive director of Lamppost Farm, a non-profit organization, pasture-based farm and educational ministry in Columbiana, said that the Sprouted Tables' events and workshops educate the community about locally produced food.
"People like Adam Lee are excellent educators because they are able to engage people in a tangible, visceral, and palatable way," Montgomery said. "The Sprouted Table is a huge educator. The Sprouted Table turns common foods and recipes into extraordinary dishes by mixing flavors and spices."
Lee said that he is trying to host events at varied non-restaurant locations. Recently, the Sprouted Table has hosted an event at the Davis Education and Visitor Center at the Fellows Riverside Gardens at Mill Creek Metro Parks in Youngstown, which overlooks Lake Glacier.
"We will also be hosting events on farms this summer and maybe an event at an art gallery. In January, we are hosting a Chinese New Year event with Jonathan Sawyer, chef and owner of the Greenhouse Tavern in Cleveland. We will host this event in Youngstown, but we haven't decided on a location yet."
Lee said the Sprouted Table plans on doing dinners on the farm for the next growing season, and is exploring events in Trumbull County.
"I'm open to working with different spaces in Trumbull County," Lee said. "I talked to the Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, and I am looking to collaborate with them. The Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership is doing a lot of local food and agricultural activities with the community."
The Sprouted Table hopes to continue to build community relationships through food.
"We want to expand the local food movement, and we want to have more workshops," Lee said. "We are planning and working more directly with farmers to plan more long term to have better connections."