Meghan Boledovich is the forager at PRINT farm-to-table restaurant and The Press Lounge on 11th Avenue in Hell’s Kitchen. We asked her to take our Staff Survey.
You’re a forager. What exactly does that involve?
Going to the greenmarket to purchase produce directly from farms, working on menu development with the kitchen, implementing our Farm to Glass cocktail program with Print and Press Bars, taking care of the rooftop garden, and taking photos of ingredients and dishes for social media outlets.
You have a rooftop garden? Cool …
I’ve tried to get a lot of diversity into a small space. We grow an array of herbs that are tolerant to wind: sage, rosemary, thyme, mint, summer savory, chives, etc. Also various vegetables that are visually attractive and good for the soil: leeks, asparagus, sun chokes, Asian celery, fennel, and we have a small Alpine strawberry patch. Also, I brought in some native varieties like wild bergamot, that is a medicinal herb and has pretty purple flowers. Anise hyssop is a weed that is also an herb that grows like crazy all over the garden. It has pretty purple flowers, so we let it do its thing and use it in sorbets and syrups. Lastly, I planted wormwood and mugwort, which are both ingredients in bitters and vermouth, that we dry and use in our house-made versions.
How about some of the local suppliers you work with?
We purchase directly from several farmers like Rise & Root Farm located in the black dirt region of Sullivan County. They have this incredible rich, dark black soil. They are a group of female farmers and farm activists growing incredible vegetables and flowers while also working on an array of social issues that intersect with farming and nutrition.
Another amazing farm we purchase directly from is Straight Out of the Ground, run by Madalyn Warren up in the Catskills. She has the most pristine product that comes direct from the field the same day. She invited us to not only come visit the farm but also to stay in her farm house and interact first hand with the work they do. There were several other chefs and restaurant industry people up there that same weekend, and we all cooked a big harvest feast together. It was a really unique experience.
So, what’s an average day like?
It starts out at the greenmarket talking with farmers and schlepping back produce to the restaurant either in an Uber or in my veg bike. Then I show the kitchen any new or interesting heirloom varieties, work on any online orders with our various distributors or farms that deliver, then I’ll check on things in the garden and do some maintenance,then prepare for the staff meeting, and do education on any new product, beer, wine, farm etc.
A veg bike? We want one of them. What’s it like cycling around NY on it?
It’s actually really easy to ride since it is mostly flat where I ride, and George from Hudson Urban Bicycle built it and it rides really great. I try to stay on the West Side Highway but getting across town can be tricky between cars etc. Lots of people like to ask me what I’m hauling in the back and I just laugh and yell: “Vegetables!”
What’s your favorite thing on the menu at PRINT?
The pork chop is incredible. We get it from this farm, Raven & Boar, up in East Chatham. They’re a family farm that raises their pigs in a similar way to the pigs of Parma. They let them forage in the woods and feed them whey from a local cheese maker, so the result is really flavorful and succulent meat. Right now we’re putting grilled torpedo cabbage with it, which I love, along with roasted concord grapes.
Where else do you eat/drink in Hell’s Kitchen?
I love Gotham Market Market, and going to Veritas Studio Wines, because Jeremy alway busts out a really weird wine for us to taste and we chat about wine nerd stuff.
What’s your favorite thing to cook and eat at home?
I’m a big home cook, and I make foods from a wide array of cuisines, from Trinidad to Peubla, but my comfort food is Eastern European. I’m part Hungarian and Slovakian, so I love a good goulash this time of year. And stuffed cabbage.
If you could be doing anything else, what would it be?
I think it would be great to move upstate and run an eco retreat where people can come work on farms, sweat in a sauna, swim in swimming holes, hike, etc, all while enjoying local food and drink. And if I didn’t have to work, I’d just want to travel and taste the world and have a home base somewhere in northern California on the coast.
11th Ave – 47th/48t St
This story originally appeared in Issue 12 of W42ST Magazine in December 2015.