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Special Section Archives The Altamont Enterprise, August 6, 2009
Governor’s chef will cook up green food at fair
By Philippa Stasiuk
ALTAMONT Noah Sheetz hasn’t decided what he will cook at his Altamont Fair demonstration on Thursday but the ingredients are sure to be local and the recipe his own. If it’s corncakes, the cornmeal will come from a farm called Wild Hive Farm in Clinton Corner, and if it’s beef, it might be either from Columbia County or Durham.
Sheetz, who is from El Paso, Texas, graduated in 2002 from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. and has been the head chef at the Governor’s Mansion in Albany since 2004. His job consists of planning and cooking meals for the staff at the Governor’s Mansion, where he has played an integral role in the mansion’s green program. He serves local food to reduce the mansion’s carbon footprint.
“The amazing thing about New York State is that a quarter of the land is vested agriculturally,” said Sheetz. “There are farms everywhere and people are producing so many different things. We deal with lots of farms and I don’t think we’ve ever been disappointed with anything. You guys are fortunate in that you have access to great fresh high-quality ingredients. It’s not like that everywhere it wasn’t like that in El Paso.”
Sheetz, who also cooks at local farmers’ markets, says that he does cooking demonstrations like the one planned for the Altamont Fair on his own time. “It’s just something personally that I enjoy doing,” he said. “I enjoy being outdoors, being around people, and talking about what we do at the Governor’s Mansion. I work with local ingredients, meet local producers, and talk about local food.”
Sheetz’s demonstration, which will be at 6:30 on Thursday evening, is an example of what fair organizer Monica Bush describes as something the fair hopes to see more of in coming years. The fair’s organizers have transformed what was formally the Grange headquarters into the Blue Ribbon Cooking Center, where food demonstrations will be held. Bush said that, in addition to lots more shelving for display, the center is now fitted with a mirror so that food demonstrations like Sheetz’s can be properly viewed.
In addition to displaying canned and cooked foods of every sort, there will be a gingerbread house and a meatball contest. The latter will be held on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and entrants bringing at least six meatballs for judging will be admitted free to the fair. Meatball-toting entrants must bring them by 4:30 p.m. in order to be in the competition.
Mama Mia Deli and Pizza Restaurant on Fuller Road is sponsoring the contest and representatives from the restaurant will judge the meatballs and award money prizes for first, second, and third place.
On Tuesday night, Chris Tanner, an educator at Schenectady County Community College, will judge a baking contest sponsored by Fleischmann’s Yeast. The two categories are yeast breads of any type or flavor, and batter breads that require no kneading or multiple rise times. The winning recipes in each category will compete against national winners for a chance to win $1,000. Local winners will also be demonstrating their bread technique on Channel 13.