Page 22 - The Valley Table - Summer 2020
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                                 Yet just as Margiotta revels in each opportunity to challenge himself as an artist, so too does he value the chance to show visitors what farm-to-table at The Dutchess truly means. Each weekend, he gets to know guests through the dishes he creates. As he takes them to Wolf’s farm or explains the origins of their meals, he bonds with them
over a shared desire to understand food as a life-giving force. If ingredients aren’t local, sustainable, or grown in
a thoughtful way, he doesn’t want them in his kitchen. He enjoys showcasing vegetables in their pure form, but he also doesn’t mind working with “ugly” produce, such as torn turnip leaves or blemished beets, as long as it’s pesticide- free and grown according to Wolf’s biodynamic standards.
“I believe in simplicity,” he says, adding that if he unboxes a delivery of crisp, sweet carrots, he prefers to play with them as minimally as possible. On the other hand,
if he receives a bunch of turnips that have been in the ground just a touch too long, he makes the most of them by braising them, turning them into soup, or even fermenting them. For him, cooking sustainably is not just about working with what he has, but adapting to make the most of the raw materials before him. That’s why he’s on a first- name basis with his farmers. In addition to Wolf, he cites Kyle Nisonger at Maple View Farm in Poughquag as one of his main suppliers and best friends. Not only does Nisonger grow for The Dutchess, but he also challenges Margiotta
to come up with new ways to utilize unconventional ingredients like kale stems and immature strawberries and, in the process, minimize waste at the farm.
Beyond Maple View, Margiotta loves Hepworth Farms in Milton and Red Barn Produce, which delivers throughout the Hudson Valley. For his occasional meat dishes, such as his fall-apart-tender beef, he recently began sourcing from Underground Farms in New Jersey, which he commends for its transparent livestock practices.
“I feel so privileged to work so closely with the farmers,” he enthuses. “It’s mind-blowing to me that there’s this disconnect where chefs don’t know what farmers are growing and farmers don’t know what chefs are buying. By just going out into the field with the farmers, you can learn so much on both ends.”
To his credit, he regularly ventures into the field with Wolf to discuss everything from which types of greens to grow to how to use Brussels sprouts stalks. At Maple View Farm, he’s helped Nisonger construct hoop houses and has seen what’s growing firsthand. For him, the visceral experience isn’t just a means of understanding his ingredients; it’s critical for
his imagination. Margiotta craves a constant atmosphere of learning, since it deters any feeling of stagnation and, by extension, the need to seek opportunity elsewhere.
“When I became a young chef, I wasn’t really happy teaching myself [because] I wanted to get out there and work for a great chef,” he recalls. Now 30, he admits that while he misses the chance to work under a mentor, he’s reached a point where he’s comfortable teaching himself — he’s a self-proclaimed cookbook fiend — and absorbing techniques and tidbits from the chefs and farmers of the Hudson Valley. When farmers introduce him to new
crops or bring to his attention underutilized plant parts,
for instance, he challenges himself to turn the scraps into light-as-air frisée salad or polenta so creamy that diners find it impossible to believe it’s enriched with vegetable purée and not copious amounts of butter and cheese. After all, it’s during this process that he manifests unforgettable food moments for others and, in doing so, lets his creativity run free.
“The ability to do whatever I want, wherever my imagination takes me, is really special,” he says. “If we want to go into the woods one night and do a pop-up fire pit dinner, who’s going to say no to that?” 
 20 the valley table
aug – sept 2020

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