PHOTOGRAPHED BY KATHERINE RAPIN
Every year, Edible Communities magazines around the country ask you, our readers, to name Local Heroes in six categories. For 2017’s awards, Edible Philly partnered with the Philly Farm and Food Fest to select nominees—and then you voted. Your picks are celebrated on the following pages.
Dock Street co-founder Rosemarie Certo
“We started making beers
the way they were made in
the old country, and then we
made them better. We had no
tradition to hold us back.”
Dock Street Brewing is a Philly institution. They helped birth the craft-beer movement in the city in 1985, protested foreign tariffs on American beer in the nineties, and opened their West Philly brewery in 2007. At the beginning of it all, their simple mission was to elevate the status of beer. “We believed that beer didn’t have the respect it deserved,” says Dock Street co-founder Rosemarie Certo.
Back when most Americans were praising beers like Heineken, Dock Street built its first brewery on 18th and Cherry Streets—the first post- Prohibition craft brewpub in Philadelphia. “We started making beers the way they were made in the old country, and then we made them better,” Certo says. “We had no tradition to hold us back.”
That attitude has carried through the years, prompting the creation of oddball beers like the Walker (made with goat brains and cranberries at the peak of Walking Dead hype), or Ain’t Nothing to Funk With (a brew that vibrated to a six-month Wu-Tang playlist). They’re currently making a beer with wild yeast they’ve collected in West Philly, and plan to roll out a prickly-pear gose—which will be gluten-free—this spring. “We’re all alchemists,” says Certo. “Experimenting is all about making something different, something better.”
Dock Street is beloved for its classic beers, too, like the Rye IPA and Bohemian Pilsner, which it distributes across Pennsylvania and New Jersey.
The brewpub continues to serve as a gathering place for grad students, professors and longtime West Philadelphians. “This is a great local neighborhood hangout,” Certo says. “It really defines what the whole craft culture is about and the roots that it started in”—like making a quality product, supporting a sizeable staff (more than 30, and growing), and creating an environment where people can connect over great food and drink.
Dock Street also supports the community with benefits like Rare Beers for School Supplies. Each month, Certo taps a special beer to give away in exchange for paper, pencils and notebooks, which Dock Street donates to West Philadelphia schools.
With a cannery and second bar in the works next door, Dock Street will continue to be a neighborhood hub. It’ll also keep pushing craft beer to the forefront with the Philly spirit and spunk that makes it a local hero.
Dock Street Brewery
701 S. 50th St.
Dock Street is adding a new bar and cannery to their
brewery on the corner of 50th Street and Baltimore Avenue
Heather Marold Thomason and Cecilie May
“We’re working with the farmers
to know about their herd size,
their land and how it works for
them to produce animals for us.”
It’s a logistical challenge to get an animal from the small, local farm where it was raised to a slaughterhouse, then to a butcher and finally to a dinner plate. So butchers Heather Marold Thomason and Cecilie May designed a more convenient system that benefits small farmers and customers alike. Their new company, Primal Supply Meats, is both a subscription service for home cooks and a wholesale provider for restaurants.
Joining the Butcher’s Club subscription service is simple: Sign up online, choose your box size, and select your pickup location. You pay as you go and can pause or stop the service any time. Members and nonmembers can also purchase à la carte items like eggs, stock or strip steak. A week’s subscription box might include sausage, a roast, and a couple pounds of quick-cooking cuts like pork chops or top sirloin steak, but specific cuts rotate. “We track what we pack for everybody every week so we can ensure variety,” Thomason says.
The magic of Primal Supply is in the supply chain Thomason and May have set up. They source whole animals from their network of local beef, pork and poultry farmers. The animals are broken down into primal cuts (think loin, brisket, and shank for beef ) at Smucker’s Slaughterhouse in Lancaster, and then delivered to the Primal Supply facility, housed in 1732 Meats’ operation in Lansdowne. In the massive space, they cut and vacuum-seal the meat and pack shares based on each week’s orders.
Through their wholesale program, they deliver larger cuts and extra ground beef to restaurants like Aldine, Vetri, Bar Hygge, Fork and High Street. “We use the two programs to make sure that the whole animal gets used without any waste,” Thomason says.
Their whole animals come from eight farmers who raise beef, pork and poultry in Southeastern Pennsylvania. They create plans for the season based on availability and demand, sometimes as much as a year in advance. “We’re working with the farmers to know about their herd size, their land and how it works for them to produce animals for us,” Thomason says.
It’s the most important part of the supply chain, and it’s the reason Primal Supply started. “We saw how hard it was for farmers raising meat to get it cut and sold,” Thomason says. With tentative plans for a brick-and-mortar location, Thomason and May will continue to increase demand for local, sustainably raised meat and make it easier for us to get our hands on it.
The Fair Food Farmstand stocks a variety of guild members’ cheeses in their all-local case.
“We felt that it was
really important for the
cheesemakers to have
a voice, and to educate
themselves and the
The Pennsylvania Cheese Guild wants you to know that our state’s cheesemakers produce stunning cheeses that rival those of Vermont and Wisconsin. Under the Foundation for Enhancing Communities, the nonprofit supports a growing number of cheesemaker members like Shellbark Hollow Farm, Valley Milkhouse Creamery, and Clover Creek Cheese Cellar—some of our region’s top artisans.
A dedicated group of cheesemakers had formed an organization back in 2007, but it relied on volunteer time without ample support. Several years later, inspired by the crowding landscape of up-and-coming cheesemakers in the community, a group of cheesemakers, business owners and food scientists at Penn State revamped the guild.
“We felt that it was really important for the cheesemakers to have a voice and to educate themselves and the consumers collectively,” says Sue Miller, cheesemaker at Birchrun Hills Farm and one of the founding members of the guild.
Cheesemaker members get opportunities to learn and network at the guild’s educational events. Last year they organized a three-day workshop with Jim Wallace, a world traveler and cheese enthusiast who studied at the Vermont Institute of Artisan Cheese. Wallace demonstrated the preparation of six different cheeses and how to work with molds and age cheeses while providing historical background on the cheeses from his travels to Europe.
The “cheese camp,” as the members called it, was held at member Lori Sollenberger’s farm, Hidden Hills Dairy in south-central Pennsylvania. Sollenberger makes farmstead cheeses, which means she uses milk from her own herd of cows to produce cheese. It’s a highly respected category of cheese; the cheesemakers grow feed, take care of their animals and manage reproduction in the herd in addition to making, aging and marketing their cheese. With all that to do, support from the guild is particularly valuable.
Hidden Hills Dairy’s cheeses have garnered acclaim at Philly restaurants like Pizzeria Beddia (they top each pizza with a generous grating of her one-year-aged, caramel-y Old Gold), but Sollenberger seeks constant improvement. “There’s always going to be more to learn about cheese and cheesemaking,” she says. Which is why she appreciates the educational events organized by the guild. “It’s nice to be able to network with other cheesemakers and share stories and inspiration.”
That’s really the mission of the guild—to support the cheesemaker community in pursuit of better cheese and wider exposure. They offer a membership for cheese enthusiasts, who are the first to hear about the guild’s community events and opportunities to meet cheesemakers and taste their cheese. “These cheesemakers are so committed to bringing great cheeses to the community,” says Donna Levitsky, administrator of the guild. “I’d just like everyone to give them a try.”
“People who get into this kind of farming
are looking not just 30 years down the road,
but 100 years down the road.”
Teddy Moynihan, 32, is part of a new generation of farmers—farmers who grew up during the peak of crop commodification. “I don’t think it’s a coincidence that what followed was this interest in trying to get back to local farms and local food systems,” he says.
Rebelling against the monoculture era, Moynihan and his wife, Faith Brutus Moynihan (who teaches high-school math), grow a staggering diversity of crops on eight acres in northern Montgomery County. In the spring, they’re harvesting frilly mustard greens, mizuna greens and spotted heads of castelfranco radicchio. Come fall, they’re curing giant speckled hound pumpkins and shelling spotted calypso beans.
Plowshare’s produce has caught the eye of chefs at restaurants like Fork, Nomad Pizza and a.kitchen. “The chefs there recognize a kindred passion for flavor and for how interesting and exciting a vegetable can be,” Moynihan says. Cooks and servers from those restaurants occasionally come out for work days on the farm. “They want to see where their food comes from,” Moynihan says, “and be in community with people who care as deeply about food as they do.” Chefs like Alex Garfinkel of Balboa Catering collaborate with Plowshare to host farm dinners where people enjoy a meal in the very field where the ingredients were grown.
This season, Plowshare will have a stand at the Saturday market in Rittenhouse Square and distribute produce through their CSA to members in Philadelphia and Bucks County (they plan to sell 25 shares this year). Those boxes won’t just be packed with fresh vegetables—Moynihan makes a point to grow storage crops and staples like dry beans and corn that can be ground for polenta. “I realize that so many people want to eat local,” he says. “And the bulk of our calories come from grains, staples and meat.” He raises a small flock of sheep to supply members and restaurants with local meat.
While raising all that nourishing food, Plowshare Farms also prioritizes good land stewardship. The Tinicum Conservancy protects the land Moynihan cultivates, and he makes long-term improvements as he raises vegetables and meat, like planting trees to serve as a windbreak. “People who get into this kind of farming are looking not just 30 years down the road, but 100 years down the road,” Moynihan says. “The biggest investments we make are in the soil.” That includes planting cover crops like buckwheat, daikon radish and clover, as well as composting manure from their own sheep in the fields. “We want it to continue to produce really good stuff for us, but also for generations into the future.”
111 Stover Park Rd., Pipersville
“Every year I think I’ve seen
everything the Southeastern
Pennsylvania farmers have to offer,
and every year they surprise me.”
At Russet, the menu is shaped each week by what farmers have to offer. Maybe this is a story we’ve heard before, but, really, chef-owners Andrew and Kristin Wood are fervently dedicated to sourcing local ingredients. Andrew says they buy from about 250 individual small farms directly.
Those farms provide their produce, dairy, grains and whole animals. “It’s really about keeping the money within 100 miles,” Andrew says. As they settle into their fifth year of business on Spruce Street, Andrew estimates they’ve spent a million and a half dollars to support local growers and producers. “For small farmers, that means new tractors and money to invest in infrastructure,” Andrew says.
It also means Russet gets the freshest and highest-quality ingredients. “All of the dishes that we present work backward from what’s available,” Andrew says. It’s a style of cooking the Woods learned while working at West Coast restaurants like Quince in San Francisco and Terra in Napa Valley. “The relationships [chefs] had with local farmers were much more personal,” Andrew says. Farmers— who the chefs knew by name—would set aside their best (or most unusual) produce for the chefs. They relied on each other. “We really wanted to emulate that model,” Andrew says.
The couple moved back to Southeastern Pennsylvania, delaying plans to open a restaurant when Rachel became pregnant. While working at Maia, James and Fork, Andrew was able to establish a network of local producers. Now, he reviews farm reports before placing orders and crafting a new menu each week.
The dining room in the converted brownstone matches the authentically rustic style of Russet’s food. A cowbell from the very first cow the restaurant bought (a 900-pound steer) hangs on the wall under the label kept from a wheel of cheese they imported from Canada. (The hard cow’s-milk cheese Alfred Le Fermier provided inspiration for the owners’ second son’s middle name.) Andrew and Kristin have their heart in the place, and diners can feel it.
Andrew’s motivated by the new ingredients he gets to work with each season. “Every year I think I’ve seen everything the Southeastern Pennsylvania farmers have to offer,” Andrew says. “And every year they surprise me”—like the two foragers he recently met who found stands of porcini mushrooms, or the woman who discovered native American chestnut trees in an area that’s been protected from deforestation.
These discoveries will continue to inspire innovation from the kitchen at Russet, though occasionally they bring a well-loved dish back on the menu. This spring, Andrew’s looking forward to preparing their Strawberry Ravioli— housemade pasta stuffed with strawberries, ricotta, parmesan, and balsamic, in a brown-butter balsamic sauce sprinkled with fresh thyme and strawberries. It’s a dish that, like all their others, lets the ingredients of a particular time and place shine.
1521 Spruce St.
Crème fraîche ice cream and cranberry compote
layered between two spiced shortbread cookies
“We purchase directly because of the
fulfillment and bond we’re building
with the farmers. It forces us to pay
more attention and put more time
into making a good product.”
Weckerly’s is known for whimsical ice-cream sandwiches that stack flavors like chocolate marbled with blue cheese and candied walnuts between shortbread cookies. Fleeting ice-cream flavors like lemongrass sour cherry and honey plum are made in small quantities with peak-of-the-season produce.
Weckerly’s started in the kitchen at Green Line Café in West Philly in 2012. The pints and sandwiches quickly drew a following and spread to markets, cafes and events around the city. Two years later, owners Jen and Andy Satinsky moved their operation to Northeast Philly and built a micro-creamery at Global Dye Works, a hub for local artists and makers.
Jen, a Pittsburgh native, developed her love of making ice cream— and her appreciation for local sourcing—during her time as pastry chef at White Dog Café. She heads up the kitchen at Weckerly’s while Andy manages sales and distribution, but it’s a passion project for them both. Using traditional French techniques and ingredients from the best of our region’s dairies, farms and artisans, they’re making ice cream that’s unmatched when it comes to local flavor.
Under all the fun and fancy flavors, Weckerly’s ice cream tastes like old-timey farmstand richness. Weckerley’s is one of the few icecream makers in Philly that make their own ice-cream base rather than purchasing one from a distributor or dairy (to which thickeners like carrageenan gum have likely been added). This allows them to source the highest-quality raw milk and cream.
“We purchase directly because of the fulfillment and bond we’re building with the farmers,” Andy says. “It forces us to pay more attention and put more time into making a good product.”
How’s this for a local loop? On delivery day, Weckerly’s packs up the van with coolers and a portable freezer loaded with orders for Chester County stores like Kimberton Whole Foods and Wyebrook Farm. Jen’s brother—the delivery guy—heaves in five-gallon buckets of waste egg whites. At Wyebrook, he restocks the freezer with ice cream and leaves the egg whites for the pigs. He drops off the Kimberton Whole Foods order, then picks up cream just down the road at Seven Stars Creamery (known for their exceptional yogurt) and raw milk from Camphill Village Kimberton Hills.
“We’ve had an amazing opportunity to build a food business around something that Jen does so well, that gives us relationships,” Andy says. “We get to collaborate with likeminded folks,” Jen adds. Weckerly’s had a big year in 2016. The Satinskys opened their first retail location, which frees them up to do even more smallbatch experimentation. They may start working on a line of frozen yogurt, but not as a “low calorie” alternative, they emphasize: “It’s just another great way to make more delicious dairy products with local ingredients.”
Weckerly’s Ice Cream
9 W. Girard Ave.