Side Dishes: Mark Bittman visits VT; Kloeti and Bivins honored; FarmPlate helps food businesses
Last Friday, food journalist, author and New York Times columnist Mark Bittman  and Sen. Bernie Sanders  gathered farmers and employees of the Burlington Intervale Center  for a conference concerning the food system at the 350-acre farming compound. “I’m interested in things that move the agricultural system forward,” Bittman told Seven Days.
Bittman seemed particularly taken with the Intervale’s Food Hub , where two young farmers, Thomas Case of Arethusa Farm  and Eric Seitz of Pitchfork Farm , talked about the boom their farms have experienced since the CSA-offering collaborative opened in 2007.
As Case left the event, Bittman told him that he hoped to see him in the spring. Sounds like the author may have plans to check out more of the Intervale when it’s in action. “The Food Hub is really sort of innovative. It will be interesting to see where it goes, though there’s no reason it won’t do great,” said Bittman, who was in Vermont for Thanksgiving with his father-in-law.
On November 15, the Vermont Chamber of Commerce  honored Michael’s on the Hill  chef Michael Kloeti and his co-owner and wife, Laura Kloeti, as “Restaurateurs of the Year” during its annual Vermont Hospitality Gala. Also honored was Tom Bivins, formerly of the New England Culinary Institute , who picked up the title of “Chef of the Year.” Bivins left NECI in October for Crop Bistro & Brewery , his soon-to-open restaurant in Stowe.
A new boon for food-related businesses affected by Tropical Storm Irene comes from FarmPlate , a website that aims to connect farms, food producers and markets with consumers and one another. It’s offering such businesses one year of free online marketing. In a statement, FarmPlate founder and president Kim Werner says her company is committed to “contributing to their health in any way we can, especially after the devastation they experienced from Irene.”