- Dish from Blossom Whole Food Kitchen and Catering
Last Christmas, Winooski's Misery Loves Co. converted the former MLC Bakeshop into the Incubator, a place for Vermont cooks and artisans to share their passions through pop-ups, workshops and other creative events. When the Misery crew relinquished the space this October, the search was on for someone to take over, equipped with culinary prowess and an eye to the needs of the community. Chef Tessa Holmes of Blossom Whole Food Kitchen and Catering fit the bill.
On November 4, Holmes became the official owner of the spot at 25 Winooski Falls Way, now called Blossom. With a kitchen space already primed for use, the chef plans to open the doors of her new operation before December 1. Blossom will focus mainly on take-away food, with a daily changing menu of lunches and dinners. The small roster of on-offer eats will mirror Holmes' cooking style: whole foods prepared affordably, with as many local and organic ingredients as possible.
The seventh-generation Vermonter began her 20 years' culinary experience at Heartwood Institute in California, a culinary arts program centered on nature, agriculture and food preparation. Back in her home state, she interpreted her training in the Vermont landscape, working as a private chef. She launched the catering biz about a year ago.
"I don't cook for ego as much as I cook to take care of people," Holmes says. "To make them feel good inside. It's not expensive or artistically plated, but it makes people happy to look at and eat."
Among the chef's favorite dishes in her seasonally shifting roster are butter-crust hand pies with local beef; custard tarts silky with agar and arrowroot instead of animal products; hearty salads dressed in a sweet chile sauce with sesame oil, mint and scallions; and cold-weather comforts such as homemade mac and cheese and root-vegetable tarts. Along with to-go items, Holmes' new operation will offer morning-made pastries and breads and self-serve tea and coffee. Come nighttime, the spot can be rented for Blossom-catered private parties or for area pop-ups, as the Incubator was.
"I want to keep up the tradition of the Incubator," says Holmes. "In buying the space, I sought an extension of my personal kitchen in a community I wanted to be a part of. For those who want to put on a menu for the night, we'll carry on that culture."