With a state-licensed kitchen in her own home and many original recipes using local products, it is clear that Haverhill resident Carolyn Grieco has a passion for cooking.
Now, after many years as a chef at local farms, she is moving on to teach the culinary trade full time.
Grieco is teaching her “farm to table” method of cooking to adults of all culinary experience levels. She buys the ingredients from local farms and then uses her own recipes to make cuisine during the classes.
Grieco described seasonal foods as her passion.“Especially with what we have in New England,” she said.
A distinctive element of Grieco’s classes is the venue where she teaches. Grieco teaches the majority of her classes at unusual venues and has been scouting out new locations.
“I really see it being a niche thing to find unique venues such as farms or historical buildings,” she said.
Many of her classes are held at Mann Orchards in Methuen, where she worked for more than 10 years as a chef. She also teaches at Veasey Memorial Park in Groveland which features an early 20th century home with a country kitchen, a screened-in porch constructed of whole tree timbers, and a lodge-style living room.
In December, she will begin to teach at Gould Barn in Topsfield. The barn is owned by the Topsfield Historical Society and was originally built in 1710 before being dismantled and restored 30 years ago.
Grieco has worked across the region at places such as Smolak Farms in North Andover, Parlee Farm in Tyngsboro and Ingaldsby Farm in Boxford, in addition to her most recent time at Mann Orchards. But after 17 years as a farm chef, she decided it was time for a change.
“As I get a little older, I’m trying to expand myself,” Grieco said. “I have a good following right now at Mann Orchards, but I want to spread out geographically. I’m looking to cultivate new relationships and get my name out by starting these classes.”
The food Grieco cooks in her classes depends on the season and the ingredients she is able to buy. In the spring, she uses peas, asparagus and native rhubarb. This summer she has done farmers market classes using traditional and unusual ingredients found at local farmers markets, including the one in Haverhill.
In the fall, she will do classes making dishes with apples as the primary ingredient. In November, she will make pies that can be dessert for a Thanksgiving feast.
“I just love showing people the simplicity of farm cooking,” Grieco said. “I like to expose people to just what is growing right around our area.”
At the end of each two-and-a-half hour session, the class receives a recipe booklet and then eats the meal which they just cooked.
“My recipes are creative, simple and usable,” Grieco said. “One of the biggest compliments I can get is when someone tells me that they use my recipes all the time.”
Last weekend, Grieco showed off her skills in her hometown as she gave free cooking demonstrations at the Haverhill Farmers Market. Grieco also contributes to the city’s culinary scene by serving on the advisory board for Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High’s culinary program.
She also is licensed by the state to run a second kitchen in her own home. She hopes to make and sell homemade jams and jellies, but that is on the back burner as she concentrates on her classes and being able to share her knowledge.
“The people and the camaraderie make it for me,” Grieco said.” We have avid cooks and brand new beginners. I like to make it a casual environment and wander the kitchen to see what everyone is doing.”
To get more information about Grieco’s classes, visit www.carolynsfarmkitchen.com.