I love food and beverage people, but, let me tell you—they’re competitive. The first sentence is all brotherhood and community, but, by the third, it’s “Lemme tell you a story about that guy—he’s a jerk.” Having heard a million stories about evil competitors, I love when local food and bev folks get together in friendship. Here are three happy collaborators on Westchester’s scene.
Captain Lawrence Brewing Company’s owner/head brewer, Scott Vaccaro, has always shared his love with local businesses. He prefers to use coffee from local Pleasantville roaster The Black Cow Coffee Company to flavor his winter stout over more marketable, Brooklyn-approved Blue Bottle Coffee. In turn, Vaccaro’s Espresso Stout is used in the chocolate-coffee stout cupcakes sold by Pleasantville’s Flour & Sun Bakery. Meanwhile, Vaccaro has brewed collaborative beers with Blue Hill at Stone Barns and magnanimously washed brewing equipment for The Peekskill Brewery’s Jeff O’Neil at his own Elmsford brewery. Vaccaro’s efforts with our small, regional grocery chain, DeCicco Family Markets, have yielded two celebrated brews: Birra DeCicco and Birra DeCicco Limone Luppolo. Vaccaro has also generously advised Restaurant North’s Stephen Paul Mancini in the use of “corny kegs” to create North’s house-made sodas (even though Captain Lawrence makes its own root beer).
While Captain Lawrence’s expanded Elmsford Tasting Room offers its own menu of cheeses and salumi (and hummus from Hastings’s Taiim Falafel Shack), Vaccaro uses his space to play host to The Cookery’s DoughNation Pizza Truck and, in the past, Ladle of Love’s electric food truck. Believe it or not, Vaccaro’s community spirit doesn’t end with human residents—his spent grain goes to feed steer at Cortlandt Manor’s Hemlock Hill Farm.
Blue Hill at Stone Barns is also a beehive of food and beverage connectivity. Not only has Blue Hill collaborated on beers brewed by Brooklyn’s KelSo Beer Co., Westchester’s Captain Lawrence Brewing Company, and Rockland County’s Defiant Brewery Co., this world-class restaurant also highlights Port Chester’s tiny StilltheOne Distillery’s Comb Spirits on its cocktail list. Usually, you’ll find Westchester-based Rainbeau Ridge goat cheese and bobbysue’s nuts! at the Blue Hill Café. Basically, wherever you turn at this dining icon, you’ll see Blue Hill sharing its star power with like-minded local businesses.
Crabtree’s Kittle House has always been a paragon of community spirit. In fact, this landmark was the first top-tier restaurant to serve Captain Lawrence’s beer when Scott Vaccaro was an unknown twentysomething who drove his products around in a Jetta. Nowadays, you’ll find everything from Rainbeau Ridge goat cheese, Tuthilltown Spirits, and bobbysue’s nuts! on a menu whose locally sourced ethos predated the farm-to-table crush. Plus, exemplifying the spirit of sharing, summer at the Kittle House means Sparkle for a Cause parties that raise money for local charities. It’s no wonder former President Bill Clinton is such a fan.