2022 Grant Amount: $3,330
The Vermont Wild Kitchen (VWK) is a monthly virtual cooking program that Rural Vermont co-presents with the Vermont Department of Fish & Wildlife. VWK demystifies the wild and cultivated foods that make up the local foodscape, and seeks to make all of these foods more accessible to more people.
The program features hunters, farmers, anglers, and foragers in their own kitchens sharing stories, recipes, techniques, and friendly conversation about the food that is readily available in Vermont’s fields, forests, streams, backyards, and roadsides. VWK is fostering a deeper appreciation of – and putting people closer to – the foods, people, and land that nourish us.
The Vermont Wild Kitchen is live-streamed through YouTube and Facebook on the third Thursday of every month. Episodes are recorded and available in perpetuity, and often reach thousands of viewers. Each episode has a seasonal focus and typically features two chefs – one cooking on the wild side, and the other cooking with farmed foods. Usually, these are not professional chefs; they’re folks eager to share a family recipe, highlight meat cuts and river catches that may be underutilized, introduce culturally-significant foods to a broader audience, market their farm’s products, and any number of other motivations. We strive to include chefs from a variety of backgrounds and experiences, and intentionally make space for BIPOC presenters. To that end, our 2022 guest chef roster has or will include Jason & Raymond Chin celebrating AAPI month, Phayvanh Luekhamhan cooking Laotian food with VT ingredients, Jeetan Khadka making Nepali food with VT goat, and our ongoing quarterly episode with Missiquoi Abenaki chef Jessee Lawyer.
The show’s informal format gives it a special charm and accessibility that is largely cultivated by its volunteer host Shane Rogers. Further, as an active forager, hunter, angler, and gardener himself, as well as a food systems activist and organizer, Shane can seamlessly guide conversations with guest chefs and our live audience that bridge wild and cultivated foods, and even go beyond the kitchen to bring attention to issues impacting our food systems and working lands, as well as opportunities for further learning and engagement.
This funding will enable us to continue offering stipends to our guest chefs, and for the first time, also allow us to reimburse chefs for purchased ingredients and provide a small stipend to our host who spends countless hours coordinating the show’s details in addition to hosting. City Market’s support would also enable us to bring our virtual show “on the road” for a few special occasions (potentially live demonstrations at farmers’ markets or winter conferences), and promote the show more broadly through paid advertisements. While we’ve built a loyal following over the last couple years, the VWK has a lot of unrealized potential that a dedicated grant could help bring to fruition.