Stacey Weeks is the chef at the Finger Lakes Cider House in Interlaken. Formerly a personal chef and small event caterer for her business, Pure Food Mind & Body, she is also a certified holistic health coach where you can ask her about seasonal cleanses and tips for eating/living a healthy lifestyle. We interviewed her for our weekly column celebrating the Finger Lakes chefs that emphasize the use of local, farm fresh ingredients in their menus.
EFL: Could you please describe to us your favorite cooking creation?
I love making soups. They are so versatile and allow for more creative freedom when making them. So many different kinds of soup. So many different ingredients can be used. They are comforting and warm, or cooling and refreshing. I’m not sure I can choose just one!
EFL: What do you love most about your job?
I love that we are hyper local. Nearly everything we make utilizes local ingredients. I also love when customers stop by the kitchen to thank me or tell me how much they enjoyed their meal. It’s a good feeling.
EFL: Where do you work now and where have you worked in the past?
I am currently the chef at the Finger Lakes Cider House. Before taking a job full time there I ran my own business as a personal chef and catered small events. I am also a board certified Holistic Health Coach. The name of my business is Pure Food Mind and Body, and it has been going for 11 years now.
EFL: When did you first become interested in farm-to-table cooking?
I guess my interest was sparked with my very first food related job when I was 18 years old. I worked in the Tea Room at Baker’s Acres in Lansing. Each morning that I worked I would go to the garden to pick fresh vegetables, herbs and edible flowers to be used in the menu that day. It was fun and I learned a lot.
EFL: How does where you work now utilize local and seasonal ingredients?
The Cider House is local to the core, or farm forward. If the ingredients aren’t grown on the farm then we get them from one of the many other local farms in the Finger Lakes region. We use as many local ingredients as possible.
EFL: Could you please name a few local food producers you work with now or have worked with in the past?
Some of the local food producers that I work with now, or have in the past, include Remembrance Farm, Stick and Stone, Autumn’s Harvest, Lively Run, Snow Farm Creamery, Crosswinds Creamery, and Farmer Ground Flour, just to name a few. There are so many!
EFL: Why do you think utilizing local and seasonal ingredients grown and produced in the Finger Lakes is important?
Eating local and seasonal ingredients is so important when nourishing your body. One of my teachers while learning integrative nutrition said “the earth provides what we need when we need it” and it really resonated with me. We are fortunate to live in a very unique region that provides basically all of our needs locally. If one wanted to live off of a local-only diet in this area, they could.
EFL: What’s on the top of your mind right now?
Currently, what should I make for dinner tonight?
Check out Stacey’s recent Seasonal Ingredient Sunday Frittata recipe!