Nicholas Leiss Brings Love of Hudson Valley Cuisine to Life at Exclusive Dinners | Culinary Events | Hudson Valley | Chronogram Magazine

Chef Nicholas Leiss has been attracted to the kitchen since he was a little kid on a stepstool cooking beside his grandmother. His passion for cooking led him to the Hudson Valley’s Culinary Institute of America. After graduating in 2010, Leiss cooked at restaurants all over the world from Denmark to Manhattan. While working at Michelin-rated establishments in New York City, like Gunter Seeger and the now-closed Colicchio & Sons, Leiss continued to live upstate. And more and more, he noticed the Hudson Valley’s bounty creeping into Manhattan kitchens. “A lot of the great ingredients we used were coming from the Hudson Valley,” he says.

He took to calling the Hudson Valley the “bigger apple,” for this abundance of farm-fresh produce, dairy, and meat. “Anyone who knows me knows that I rant about how great the Hudson Valley is,” Leiss says. “So I needed to start getting those ideas down.”

In 2019, with encouragement from his wife, he began his blog Farm2ChefsTable. On the site, he interviews local farmers, shares recipes, and educates readers on food preserving techniques and sustainable growing practices. “The blog is about what makes the Hudson Valley tick food-wise,” he says. “We have foragers, farmers, and artisans all right here. Let’s highlight that.”

Farm-to-Table Dinners

While the blog is a good source of practical information, food is primarily a sense experience—a dimension that was lacking from the online sphere. So starting this July, over five months Leiss will be put all his knowledge and connections to use in a series of four exclusive farm-to-table dinners held in the pasture at Hover Farms. Leiss fell in love with the place when interviewing proprietor James Himelwright for his blog last year. Himelwright’s Red Devon cattle are grass fed, and his chickens are pasture raised, falling in line with Leiss’s sustainable sensibilities. Leiss will be dry aging Hover Farms beef for 90 days in preparation for the first dinner.

Leiss will also put his network of local farmers and cooks to use with produce from Field and Larder, salumi from La Salumina, and even foraged ingredients from Deep Forest Wild Edibles. “I’ll be featuring a lot from the forests of the Hudson Valley, not just the pastures,” Leiss says. “A lot of those things might be under the radar.” He plans to change the menu with the seasons, ensuring each meal will be special.

The food won’t be the only locally sourced element of the dinners. “For the plates, I’m working with the Newburgh Pottery,” says Leiss. “When you have plates made by someone you know in the area, it tells a story, as opposed to just ordering a bunch online.”

The chef’s meal will consist of a few snacks to get diners acclimated and comfortable, then dinner, followed by dessert. Drink pairings will consist of wine, local brews, juices, and kombucha. Leiss is purposefully straying from terms like “tasting menu” and “10-course meal.” “I want to take something formal and make it informal,” he says.

The dinners will be both relaxed and intimate, with only 10 seats available. Tickets will be up for grabs in early May, when you can DM Leiss at Farm2ChefsTable on Instagram to reserve a spot.

Leiss has hopes that the dinners will lead to his own restaurant. They will be a smaller version of what he wants to accomplish in the future. You’ll have four opportunities to see what he has to offer, with dinners on July 9, September 24, October 22, and November 12.

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