Fairfield County Chef’s Table, Extraordinary Recipes From Connecticut’s Gold Coast, released March 3 by Globe Pequot Press, is a book of recipes and photographs from more than 50 of Fairfield County’s restaurants, and the stories of the chefs behind the food. It is a collaboration by photographer Stephanie Webster, editor in chief and founder of CTbites.com, and Newtown native Amy Kundrat, who is the executive editor of that award winning website.
The book builds on the brand recognition generated by CTbites, said Ms Kundrat.
“About two years ago, I thought that a recipe book about the chefs and Fairfield County food scene would be great, so I pitched it to Pequot Press,” she said. It was an idea well received, and she set about determining who and what would be featured in the book.
The book is one in a series of similar books published by Globe Pequot Press featuring cities and regions from across the country, with unique content by the authors.
“CTbites is about the best, hidden gems in the Fairfield County food scene, the places that are worth the time to discover,” Ms Kundrat said. “That was the litmus test for the book. I wanted to try and hit all of the towns in Fairfield County, too, and wanted a diversity of cuisines and price points,” she said. With the restaurant scene ever changing, and chefs moving from one position to another as quickly as they change aprons, her challenge was getting the book completed in a timely manner. But once the book proposal was accepted, she turned it over in just four months, ensuring that the recipes and restaurants featured are as current as possible.
Ms Kundrat’s hometown was not overlooked when seeking prime eating destinations. One of her favorite pizza haunts is right in Newtown. Readers will find Carminuccio’s Pizza, at 76 South Main Street, listed in the Pizza Sidebar section of the book.
Readers will discover the recipe for The Martha from Woodbury’s Carole Peck’s Good News Café, an avocado, beet, pea, and cucumber salad; or stuffed quail with polenta and spinach from La Zingara in Bethel. Find the secret to extraordinary kibbe (spiced meat and bulgur wheat) made at Hanna’s in Danbury; then turn the pages to find more tales of special eateries and the people devoted to producing especially good food.
Ms Kundrat’s immersion in the food world began as a young girl, when “destination” dinners in New York City were not unusual excursions for her family. As a college student in the Washington, D.C., area, she was introduced to a diversity of cuisines unlike those in Connecticut.
“I grew up in Newtown, and returned after graduating from college with majors in art history and government and politics after landing a job at The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art. I’ve since worked at the National Trust’s Philip Johnson Glass House as Director of External Affairs, a start-up within The Financial Times as their Director of Public Relations, and am currently at Yale University as a Director of New Media,” Ms Kundrat said. Working with artists through museum programs, she saw their use of art as a creative outlet.
“My creative outlet became writing about food, and the people and stories behind the food. I was always looking for the food angle [in what I was doing],” said Ms Kundrat.
Noting that there seemed to be a vacuum of food content for foodies — “people who love to ‘geek out’ about food” — on most food blogs, she considered starting her own food blog. When she came across one of the early posts from Ms Webster’s CTbites blog, in 2008, she felt an instant simpatico, Ms Kundrat said.
“I reached out to Stephanie and offered to team up. CTbites is not about me,” she said, “but it is about great food.”
Fairfield County is made up of towns and cities, “each with its own selection of delicious cuisine,” Ms Kundrat said. Fairfield County Chef’s Table is a means of giving other food loving diners the inside scoop on what to eat, where to eat it or how to make it, and the people behind the scenes.
Stephanie Webster is the daughter of a restaurant design team. She developed her passion for good food finds while growing up in New York City. She began her career as a photo editor in the magazine industry.
Following seven years in Seattle, Wash., Ms Webster relocated to Connecticut, bringing with her the West Coast knowledge of an innovative approach to food. In her quest to support “a community of eaters that live for their next meal,” she founded CTbites.com.
More than 200 full-color photos by Ms Webster accompany the stories and recipes in Fairfield County Chef’s Table.
Currently, Ms Kundrat and Ms Webster have scheduled appearances at the Milford Barnes & Noble, April 27; Westport Barnes & Noble, May 17; and a date to be announced in May at 109 Cheese & Wine in Ridgefield.
For complete information visit www.ctbites.com.