Another beautiful day on the pond at Schartner Farms in Exeter, RI allowed the newest members of the Jonathan D. Sellitto ’01 Abbey Culinary Arts Club experience the best that Rhode Island has to offer in food. This is our fifth year, and several chefs and vendors now welcome Portsmouth Abbey like old friends.
Going into the Chef’s Collaborative I didn’t know what to expect. I was excited, no doubt about that, but nothing could prepare me for the vast variety of good food I was to encounter. When we entered under the narrow topiary arch leading into the event, it was like entering a new world different from the sparse, beige farm we had first arrived at. Hidden behind these topiary walls was a gathering full to the brim with life. The event was alive with live music, laughter and amazing smells, not to mention a beautiful fall setting complete with a chrysanthemum-laden, wooden dock overlooking a placid lake.
There was a palpable excitement in the air; maybe it was the hungry anticipation for delicious food, but it was also the sense of community between the chefs and food-lovers that gathered around the banks of the small lake. I was struck by how passionate the chefs were about their food; each sample was meticulously created and assembled in the small bowls. Their passion truly shined through when the explained their creations. Each local chef was more than willing to make conversation and explain their foods to us as they prepared the samples on the spot for what was often a long line of people waiting to try their food, yet each interaction was intimate and engaging.
As I walked from table to table, I was determined to take as much as I could from the unique experience even if it meant looking at foods I might once have avoided in a new light. To my surprise, it wasn’t as hard as I thought! The food looked and smelled so good that it wasn’t hard to feel curious about its taste and I wasn’t disappointed. We, as a group, all tried the raw oysters at the forefront of the event, and although it didn’t look as appetizing as the delicious macaroons from Elle’s I would try later into the visit, it was in its own way just as good. I also tried the spicy Tofu from the Beehive and the maroon colored beet pocket bread stuffed with braised lamb neck from Metacom Kitchen and was delightfully surprised how tasty these dishes were. Overall, the Chef’s Collaborative BBQ was an eye-opening experience for me of the delicious variety of food local Rhode Island has to offer. —Lily Sones ’21
Immediately after stepping off the bus onto the gravel road, I found myself in a place I’d least expect a culinary event to occur. Dated trucks and piles of dirt are not what I imagined the Chef’s Collaborative to be. This all changed when I walked through the lush green arch, and was immediately greeted by by live music, remarkable aromas, and good vibes. People of all ages spread the beautiful green fields of Schartner Farms trying foods from the numerous stands set up by local restaurants. I eagerly hopped into the first line for the biggest challenge: Oysters from New Rivers’ Raw Bar.
I once tried an oyster when I was 13, and I did not enjoy eating it. But having recently read Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, I was inspired by the moment Benedict said, “…but doth not the appetite alter?”(2.3.240) I doused the oyster in hot sauce, hesitantly ate the slimy sea creature, and to my surprise, enjoyed it. The smooth texture complimented the buttery and salty flavor of the oyster, while the hot sauce added a little zing of spice. I later found myself going back for a second, and later, a third.
Overall, the Rhode Island Harvest Barbecue sponsored by Chefs Collaborative served as a great means for me to expand my horizon and try new foods. The barbecue transformed a food I once found repulsive into a delightful and tasty experience.–Rafael Borromeo ’20
Sunday October 6th 2019 marked Rhode Islands 10th Annual Chefs Harvest Barbecue. This year the Jonathan D. Sellitto ’01 Culinary Club was able to make the trip to the Schartner Family Farm in Exeter RI to experience the event. Upon our arrival at the farm, we departed the bus and made our way over to a small pond. The Harvest Barbecue (Chefs Collaborative) is set up along the perimeter of about half of the pond. The entrance to the event is marked off by a quaint arch cutting through a series of tall bushes. Immediately to the left upon entering there was an oyster stand with freshly shucked Rhode Island Oysters. Our initial task was to shoot an oyster. The oysters were delicious! After shooting our oysters, we were free to roam the festival and explore the works of some of the best chefs in Rhode Island. My personal favorite was from Metacom Kitchen. They had prepared a beet pocket bread with braised lamb neck, Moroccan spice, cauliflower and ginger gold apple. The beet pocket bread provided an enjoyable twist to a traditional pocket bread. Beneath the bread, the cauliflower combined perfectly with the lamb to deliver a unique taste. I also enjoyed the macarons made by Ellie’s. After spending two hours indulging myself in cuisine from Rhode Island’s best chefs, I was tapped out for the day. We said goodbye to Chefs Collaborative and headed back to campus. — Ted Falvey ‘20
Walking into the event I was very nervous. I knew that I was not allowed to try any food there until I had eaten an oyster. I dreaded this moment as I do not like seafood in any way. If it lives in water, I will not eat it. Standing in the oyster line, I started thinking of ways to get out as I was almost at the front. I realized I was trapped when I saw Mrs. Bonin behind me and Mr. Calisto in front, taking photo evidence to make sure everyone tried one. My hand started shaking as I grabbed an oyster, and by my hand I mean my whole body; this oyster was huge. My friends gathered around me, encouraging me to eat it and get it over with. I had never felt so scared in my life. I thought there was no way I could actually get myself to eat this thing. Then… the world suddenly slowed down. I raised the oyster to my mouth and gulped it down. I have never, and I mean never, felt something more slimy and disgusting in my entire life. The texture and sensation had to be a 0/10 but the taste was a solid 6/10. Overall I was surprised about how un-fishy the oyster tasted. If given the opportunity to try another one, I would not. I can see how some people may like it but they are definitely not for me.–Matthew Walter ’20
We arrived at the Chefs Collaborative, hosted on a lakeside with live music; the obligatory oyster every member must have greeted me as the first food I would taste that evening. I had smothered it in cocktail sauce to mask the texture, which wasn’t as intolerable as I thought it would be, and I delighted in the freshness of the oyster. Next was a stew prepared by Nicks, the pork fatty, tender, and just how I like it, and the dish overall hearty and fulfilling. The long line for Brix’s barbeque was well-deserved, with the duck fat beignet melting in my mouth, the onion perfectly sweet, and beef ribs fatty and delicious. The brisket from Tallulah’s Taqueria was very soft, and I loved the use of peppers in it, but found the mac+cheese too akin to coleslaw to enjoy it. I went for dessert at the table for Ellie’s, an apple hand pie with honey bourbon glaze, the filling not too sweet and the pastry bready overall. Perhaps my favorite dish was the cassoulet from the Newport Restaurant Group, with crunchy carrots, meat that was chewy but not too hard, and bread that was soft and sweet. The kielbasa from Gracie’s reminded me of the perfectly crisp sausage my father cooks for me at home, but the sauce seemed too sweet a topping. —Jamie Shipman ‘21
Going in to the day I was worried there would not be things I could enjoy, however, I was able to find some things I ended up loving! The restaurant Ellie’s had amazing little bit-sized apple pies. I’m usually not a big fan of apple pie but for some reason these were so good. I was able to get through probably three of them. Today was just the day of liking things I normally don’t because I usually would pass on a root beer, however Yacht Club Sodas + Seltzers had sodas to sample and I chose the root beer, and it was delicious! Another thing I was able to have was corn fritters from Eli’s Kitchen; I thought they were good but in my opinion, it had a bit too much cilantro. Beehive Cafe had a tofu curry. For me it was a little bit too sweet of curry, but I really liked the chickpeas. Overall, I had a really fun time and enjoyed what I had!–Emma Kerr ‘20
The Chef’s Collaborative was lively and inspiring. I overheard someone describe it as ‘the Woodstock of food’ and I think it’s very fitting. It was my first time trying oysters, but a vital step to becoming a member of the club. When the soft insides slid into my mouth, the first thing I could taste was the salty sea water. These were surely fresh! I think it will take me some time to get used to them, but oysters are certainly a delicacy. I also had the experience to try Granny Squibb’s tea. They had three flavors: lime, mojito and cranberry. My favorite was Mojito; the flavor brought me back to Cuba! I got an entire flask to go.
My favorite dish was probably the Thai style Schartner Farm Corn Fritters, by Eli’s Kitchen. I had never had corn fritters made in any kind of Asian style. These were prepared right at the moment there on the farm. The sweet and sour sauce paired with the spices, and they were served very hot! Supplies were limited, but I still lined up twice to get another try.
I also had the chance to try the Braised lamb neck in beet pocket bread with Moroccan spice, cauliflower and ginger gold apple, by Metacom Kitchen. These were slightly dry, but the quality of the lamb was prime. Probably the spiciest meal I had came from Chez Pascal. They made a bowl of braised Baffoni Farm chicken, Diana’s fingerling potatoes, and za’atar spice.
For dessert, I tried the macarons from Ellie’s Bakery. These were incredibly fresh, and I could deduce from the taste that the ingredients were well sourced. I don’t think I would be able to tell one of those macarons apart from some authentic Parisian ones.
I was impressed by the Middle Eastern and Asian influences in these usually American dishes. The lake, the live music, and the company only made the food more delectable. I’m grateful for the opportunity to have attended Chefs Collaborative.–Mauricio Garcia Gojon ’20
The Chefs Collaborative took place on a warm New England fall day. The phenomenal food paired with the atmosphere made for an indescribable afternoon. The day did not have a fantastic start. Our initiation to the group required us to have a fresh oyster, which is best described as rancid ocean jello. After that setback, we embarked on our culinary journey. From the central fire pit, came the fresh ribs and brisket. The fire-roasted ribs were paired with a duck fat benget and roasted onion. The fire-roasted brisket was paired with a corn relish on a barbecue-style sandwich. The only dessert booth from the event featured hand pies and three types of macaroons. My favorite dessert was easily raspberry and rose macaroons. The dessert was perfectly balanced, and the rose was not overwhelming, it only added to the deep flavor.
Along with the food came the vast array of drinks. I easily had at least 6 servings of different drinks, which were all locally sourced. All of the chefs were memorable, especially the chef who served the corn fritters, which were easily the best savory dish of the afternoon. The corn fritters were freshly made and were coated in a tangy sauce that is still memorable even a week after tasting.
Eating the fresh food on the water made the Chefs Collaborative worth the entire trip. The scenery only added to the experience and atmosphere. The band put everyone in an energized mood for the entire event. Each chef had an obvious passion for food. Their love for cooking showed in every potion of their dishes. The chef’s love and passion for food is what made the event so memorable and worthwhile. –Emma Alexander ’20
When I was younger a fall trip to Schartner Farm’s pumpkin patch was a staple in my house. The hayride, face painting and cutting a pumpkin off the vine was something I looked forward to every year. This past weekend, the 2019-2020 Culinary Arts club attended an event called Chefs Collaborative in the same place that I have so many cherished fall memories. The event was set on a beautiful pond with people and families enjoying the amazing cuisine and live music. Restaurants and chefs from all over Rhode Island set up booths around the pond with an individual dish for people to try. Each stand had their own unique sampling with everything from modern cuisine to traditional comfort food.
Personally, I do not enjoy red meat and I only ever eat it on special occasions. Going into this event, I had an open mind and wanted to try absolutely everything the chefs had to offer. I also have a tendency to take things off or alter dishes, and I made myself promise I would wholeheartedly take one bite of everything without hesitation. I did just that and was thrilled with the results. The most shocking dish I tried was from Metacom Kitchen. They served braised lamb neck with cauliflower and ginger gold apple wrapped in beet pocket bread. It tasted heavenly with curry like spices and tender meat all wrapped up in soft earthy bread. However, my favorite dish was the first thing I tried. Nicks on Broadway served an amazing Blackbird Farm pork paired with Maine beans and a dollop of sour cream. The pork was deliciously tender and had a smoky flavor paired with the beans that melted in your mouth. The sour cream on top was the perfect creamy way to finish the dish. The most amazing part of the event was taking in the fact that within such a small state, chefs churn out delectable and unique dishes. New England is an extraordinary place and this event highlighted the complexity of the state we get to call home. It also pushed me outside my comfort zone, and I am so grateful for the experience. It definitely has been one of the highlights of my senior fall thus far. –Madelynn Knudson ‘20
It was a cold and cloudy day as we walked off the bus and onto the gravel. As we began to walk towards the entrance, we heard the chatter in the air. Following this noise, we arrived at a hole seemingly cut into the hedge. The cold stillness behind us disappeared and gave way to a world of smells, sights and music. The very first this any of us saw were the freshly shucked large and plump oysters. After indulging in one or two of these delectable delights, we moved on to the long line forming near two stations. The first station revealed a wonderful cut of beef with an airy puff and some onion underneath; the meat quickly dissolved to reveal a creamy flavour whilst the puff and onions added a more complex earthy flavour. We moved onto the next station which served exceedingly savoury and fresh pulled pork sandwiches with sauteed bell peppers and creamy mac and cheese accompanied by a tangy Verde sauce and a crispy crunch courtesy of the fried breading. Afterwards, we walked to a station sitting next to a grill with long sections of sausages hanging over it. This station provided sausages drizzled in a mustard seed sauce with grilled onions. The next station provided us with a corn and arugula salad with a grilled scallop. The next stand was serving a fried ring of flattened dough lightly salted with a creamy and rich yet developed flavour. As we moved onwards we came across a bread made from vegetables with a sharp yet woody filling. The next and perhaps my favourite station had large fried doughy orbs filled with a thick, corn flavoured filling topped with sea salt and a sweet and sour sauce. The last station I visited was serving a vegetable version of pulled pork with potatoes and spiced with paprika. The Chefs Collaborative was an extremely fun and lively place filled with sounds of chatter and music, however, the star of the show was the simple yet delicious food that was served by the many wonderful chefs that partook in this year’s event. —Dan Twomey ‘20
I had heard many great things about the Chefs Collaborative event from members who have attended in the past, and I was excited to see what it was all about. I had no idea what to expect, but I arrived at the Schartner Family Farm with an open mind and a good appetite. The entire club immediately headed to the table where fresh oysters were served, and my friend Victoria and I both gave each other a nervous look. It was the first time trying raw oysters for both of us, but we still ate them eagerly. Needless to say, that was probably also the last time we would ever eat oysters. I’m sure that seafood lovers would’ve loved that sample, and I was not deterred. The location had many more tables, and everything looked so delicious. The club attacked and conquered the barbecue area first, and it certainly did not disappoint. While waiting in line for the extremely popular smoked brisket sandwich from Tallulah’s Taqueria, I was also able to try fire roasted beef ribs with tasty duck fat beignets and onion confit. It was a great sample to prepare me for the sandwich, which was a favorite for almost everyone. I desperately wanted seconds, but I knew there was much more waiting on the other side for me to eat. The selection was overwhelming, making me glad I saved room for more. Another one of my favorites was the curried tofu and spinach from The Beehive cafe. Some of the other members that I spoke to weren’t fans, but its nostalgic, yet unique, taste instantly made me want to drive to Bristol and order it as a main dish. Some other staples were the thai style corn fritters from Eli’s Kitchen, squash rings and greens from The East End, and Ellie’s delectable french macarons and honey glazed apple hand pies. I tried as much as I could of everything until I absolutely could not eat any more. However, I still managed to try a few of the beverages offered, which exceeded my expectations. After seeing a sign that said “Come try our Vampire’s Blood!” next to the Yacht Club Sodas + Seltzer’s stand, I couldn’t resist. The orange mango soda was quite possibly the best drink I’ve ever had, and I did go back for seconds that time. Overall, I would say that this year’s Chefs Collaborative was a success. It was so great to be able to try things from so many restaurants in the area that I had previously been unfamiliar with, and I’ll definitely be visiting some of them in the near future.–Michelle Victorine ’21
There was nothing but utter excitement as I walked beneath the bushes to enter the Chefs Collaborative. The event was already up and running with an abundance of people, live music, and a plethora of smells. There were so many things to admire, from the trendy light bulbs strung throughout, to the array of meats being cooked over an open fire. I was ready to go on my merry way, equipped with my fork and spoon to taste as many dishes as I could. That eagerness quickly fizzled away however, when I realized it was time to eat the one thing I was mortified of trying—oysters. I have an irrational fear of all seafood, so to say I was not keen on having to go through this initiation would be an understatement. Nevertheless, I put on a brave face as I stared down at the slimy creature sitting in its grey juice, and down the hatch it went. “Don’t chew, just swallow!” was what I kept saying to myself. In the end, it was not as bad as I had pictured, but that could just be because I drowned the oyster in cocktail sauce.
After the whole oyster fiasco, I walked along the glistening pond and made a beeline for the first food that caught my eye—macarons! These macarons from Ellie’s ended up being one of my favorites from the entire event. The one I tasted was what they called Sour Grape. With the confection’s deep purple coloring, I was interested to find out what it tasted like. My taste buds were instantly hit with the sweetness from the meringue outside, which was quickly cut by the smooth, sour filling that resided further in the delectable treat. As much as I wanted to stay and eat every last macaron I decided to part ways but not before grabbing another macaron to go.
Eli’s Kitchen led me to find another one of my favorite dishes. They were serving Thai style corn fritters, which used corn right from Schartner Farms. Taking my first bite through the crispy exterior, my mouth was flooded with the taste of cilantro. The herb allowed for a dash of freshness in the heavy, fried, food. The more I ate the fritters the more I was able to pick up on certain flavors. There was a wonderful hint of lime zest within the fluffy corn interior. Everything came together so perfectly, from the sweetness of the corn to the zing of the Thai peppers. I made sure to visit this table more than once before leaving.
The entire experience of being surrounded by avid foodies was something I never thought I would be a part of. The Chefs Collaborative allowed me to try new foods, some that I thoroughly enjoyed and others that I could pass on. At the end of the day, I was introduced to all kinds of amazing food and expanded my knowledge about the art of cooking. But most importantly, I left with an extremely full stomach. –Teresa Billings ’20
My experience at the Chef’s Collaborative was truly eye opening. Since I am an extremely picky eater, I went into the event doubting I would enjoy much of the food. However, I was pleasantly surprised. First, I tried the oysters, which was indeed something I had been dreading. The oyster was much unlike anything I had ever tried before. The method used to go about eating the oyster was also a very new experience for me. While, I cannot say I have been converted into an avid oyster eater, I do have a much better appreciation of oysters on the whole. Next, I had a pulled pork sandwich with a twist. I loved every bite of it although it was quite unique to the pulled pork I’ve had in the past. I tried an assortment of foods from various stands, eating things I didn’t even know existed or things I never thought I’d try, like squash rings and curry. Soon, I made my way to a dessert stand with one of the most delicious macaroons I’ve ever had in my life. It was bright pink with just the right amount of sweetness. I visited two beverage stands: one with mojito lime flavored iced tea and one with a red carbonated drink appropriately named ‘Vampire’s Blood.’ I enjoyed both immensely and will definitely find a way to purchase them in the future. As one can tell through reading this blog, the Chef’s Collaborative is an event not to be missed and is one that will greatly enrich your senses should you be fortunate enough to attend.–Victoria Travassos ’20