The farm-to-table movement began decades ago, when local and organic foods became popularized by the hippie movement. Until the 1960s, processed and canned foods were treasured by many consumers across the States for their convenience, but the preferences of the new age were soon reflected in the values of many companies Ñ one of which was Bon Appetit, Knox’s dining management company. While the term has evolved, today a farm-to-table business typically implies a business whose goods are sourced by local producers, often aiming to negate the use of GMOs, pesticides and/or antibiotics. On Sept. 20, Galesburg welcomed Craft to its restaurant scene.
Craft is not only a farm-to-table establishment sourcing locally from the Knox County area, but the business also operates as a butcher and deli. Meats, coleslaw, potato salad and more fresh food items are available on the go. Opening at 8 a.m., the dining area operates as a brunch joint, boasting a classic breakfast and lunch menu. Popular menu items include corned beef and pastrami, sourced from Double J Pastures’ beef in Knoxville, just outside of Galesburg. Besides beef, there is bison meat, pork varieties and house-brined turkey, along with veggie alternatives.
The creation of this establishment began with Bartley Smith and Ryan Cardwell, both of whom have a history in the food business in Galesburg. Smith formerly worked as the head chef at En Season, a farm-to-table establishment which closed doors indefinitely at the beginning of the year. Since this time, Craft has been in the works, with Smith contributing years of experience in the farm-to-table scene. Cardwell is the current owner of Iron Spike, but has yearned to bring something different to the local eateries. Craft sous-chef Chris Stolfa, who has worked under Cardwell at Iron Spike for years, expressed the importance for diversity in local food businesses as the town is typically overshadowed by corporate chains.
“We want people to come back and try everything on our menu,” Stolfa said. “It’s important for people to expand their palates and jump outside the box, and for Galesburg, a lot of people haven’t had the opportunity to do that.”
Kitchen manager Jordan Kawczynski has learned a lot from Smith, who is very dedicated to the trade. A self-taught chef, Smith has incorporated some of his earliest-learned recipes into the menus at both Iron Spike and now Craft.
“Every place he’s come from, he’s just pulled a little bit from every place he’s worked at,” Kawczynski said. “He’s always constantly reading, buying new cook books; his knowledge is endless, especially in the kitchen.”
Stolfa and Kawczynski both expressed the necessity of passion in the culinary trade. While the conditions and hours are not always the most ideal, they shared the thought that when you love the work, you don’t stop doing it. With Craft, Galesburg gains an impassioned staff, eager to serve fervently crafted recipes.
“You don’t have much time for [other] things. It’s your family at the end of the week. We’re so sweaty, crazy busy, but as a team you pull together and sell such a great product that when you look back at it you laugh and think, that was fun,” Stolfa said. “When people are pleased with it, that’s the pay off.”
Craft is open Tuesday through Sunday at 41 S. Seminary St.