THE VALLEY TABLE HAS HONORED Dr. Sam Simon, co-founder and president of Hudson Valley Fresh, and John Novi, chef/owner of the Depuy Canal House, with its 2013 Farm-to-Table Award in recognition of their leadership efforts to promote sustainable agriculture and to advance the Hudson Valley as a premier food region.
Janet Crawshaw, founder of Hudson Valley Restaurant Week and publisher of The Valley Table, presented the awards during the Restaurant Week launch party and press conference at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park in February. “It’s important to recognize the people who are helping to expand upon everything this region has to offer,” Crawshaw told a standing-room-only crowd. “Hudson Valley Restaurant Week highlights our vibrant food scene, which we have today because of the commitment of farmers, local purveyors and leaders such as Sam and John. They make it all possible.”
Simon, a retired orthopedic surgeon, grew up on a dairy farm near Middletown (Orange County), kept the farm operating while in medical school, then returned to dairy farming after retirement. In 2005, he founded Hudson Valley Fresh, a non-profit dairy cooperative, initially committed to producing and distributing high-quality milk. Today, the co-op’s products include half-and- half, heavy cream, sour cream and yogurt—all using the milk from sustainably raised, antibiotic- and hormone-free cows. Importantly, Hudson Valley Fresh guarantees its members a set price for their milk. Collectively, 8,000 acres of Hudson Valley farmland remain in production because of the co-op’s success.
Named in Time magazine the “Father of New American Cooking,” John Novi, chef/owner of the fabled Depuy Canal House, has been an acknowledged leader in local historic- and farm-preservation efforts, and is credited as being one of the early major proponents of using locally sourced ingredients. He has been instrumental in the development of the Rondout Valley Growers Association, a non-profit community organization of local farmers, residents and businesses committed to strengthening the region’s family farms and preserving agricultural open space.
The 2013 Farm to Table Award winners received a handcrafted table designed and constructed from locally sourced black walnut by Beacon artisan Jessica Wickham, and joined Dr. Tim Ryan, president of the Culinary Institute of America, in the winner’s circle. Ryan was the inaugural honoree of the award, established by The Valley Table in 2012.