Nazie Fatima Shekarchi - Executive Chef
In my previous life before cooking, I was a creative/art director and designer in NYC and Los Angeles.
In 2007, around the time of the financial crisis, I grappled with what I did for a living, and how it impacted the world we live in. — For a few years, I’d grown deeply worried about the environmental impact of the consumer goods I designed, and developed marketing materials and packaging for.
At the time, I was very driven by the idea of creating better packaging, made of recycled materials and imagining a circular process for published and packaged goods I designed, but unfortunately, I found very little support or enthusiasm in the corporate settings I worked in. I was alas too early and eager for change in industries that are yet to change their habits today. I only found my frustration and hopelessness mounting. I had to find or create myself a new path.
As early as the aughts (2000’s), I’d returned to work with several grassroots food movements (I’d volunteered with the UFW from 1989-1994), and began growing incredibly concerned about the state of our food system, not only on the level of food equity, justice, and farm safety as in the past, but so much of what was hidden from the public in regard to the inner workings of our food system; Much of which was completely new to me at the time.
By the beginning of 2008, as the financial crisis took hold of the country, and many industries began to purge employees, I decided to jump at the opportunity of moving into the one environment I could see as a solution to many planetary and social issues I was passionate about in one place, and it was a world I knew well, as I come from generations of cooks and chefs. I gave up my corporate life for a simpler one in the kitchen and farmers markets of New York City and Los Angles. — Although I grew up in restaurants, and my Dad, Grandfather and Great-Grandfather were all chefs, my siblings and I were discouraged from pursuing cooking. – Inadvertently, my first teacher was my Ugandan grandmother who taught me how to cook starting at the age of 4. She taught me the importance of good ingredients and making things from scratch, while my childhood in Iran opened my world up to the pure deliciousness of perfectly ripe fruits in friends orchards, seasonal ingredients, and community... years later, all these elements instilled in me at a young age, would go on to create the foundation of my cooking and my philosophy of choosing ingredients that respect the land and cherish/showcase the individuals that bring it to our tables.
In this time, as I’ve evolved to my current position as an executive chef in the beautiful Catskills Mountains, I have had the humbling experience of working and volunteering on farms to get a better understanding of the workings of our food system and the people that are responsible for what I put on plates, to choosing sustainable practices and ingredients from local farmers with holistic farming practices in order to be a better steward of the earth and soil that makes my cooking possible.
Cooking Practices/Food Philosophy:
I have a deep connection with the farmers and vendors I source my ingredients from. The traceability of my ingredients is paramount. –– I have diligently worked to build the foundation of my cooking through the important relationships I’ve built with my farming/culinary community over the last 13+ years, which are the source of everything I bring to the table. Anywhere I go, I first start by learning about local resources, growers, and artisans. I believe that it is incredibly important to be connected to the origin of the beautiful ingredients I am fortunate and ever grateful to use.
Source of ingredients:
All produce is seasonal & sourced from Local farmers/markets.
ALL menu items are GMO free, including oils used to cook food.
All Dairy and Eggs used are sourced locally from Pastured/Free Roaming, healthy animals.
All Grains (including flour) and Legumes and Sugars/Honey/Syrups are Organic unless Local/Pesticide Free sources were used.
Chocolate is Fair Trade and/or Organic and GMO free.
Meat is Certified Organic or sourced from Local Pastured/Free Roaming Animals raised
without the use of growth hormones and antibiotics.
Seafood is chosen in accordance to Sustainability in the Oceans.
Coffee is Organic, Fair Trade or Wild Harvested.