If you’re a private chef in the Hamptons and you want to put top-quality, full-flavored, hyper-healthy, and even some pretty wild food on your clients’ tables, then you’ve got to connect with Rustic Roots Organic Home Delivery.
Rustic Roots is All About Connection
In 2011, husband-and-wife team Jeff and Emer started connecting local families with local farms. After Jeff realized he felt somewhat disconnected in his own life—that he needed to be doing something a bit more meaningful than spending long nights away from his wife while running a bar—he and Emer came up with something that they could work at together, both for themselves and for their potential customers and suppliers.
This dynamic delivery duo got the idea to start a small business that focused on providing exceptional customer service. Their endeavor involved getting the best products from the area’s best organic and sustainable farms straight into the kitchens of homes throughout Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island. In these early days, Rustic Roots delivered to four or five homes a week.
Fast-forward to 2015: Jeff and Emer have grown Rustic Roots so big that they now make about 500 to 600 deliveries a week!
Connecting Chefs with Farmers
Included in these hundreds of deliveries are orders from private and restaurant chefs. Jeff and Emer started connecting with these chefs a year and a half ago in 2013, once they had their home delivery system down and running smoothly.
Ever since then, Rustic Roots has been linking local chefs to the premium products of some of the best farms (and one wild forager!) in the Northeast, from as far north as Copake, NY (pastured meats from Pigasso Farms) to as far south as Lancaster, PA (almost everything under the South Central Pennsylvania sun from Lancaster Farm Fresh Cooperative).
Jeff knows that he’s got to connect with chefs a little differently. Once chefs introduce themselves to Jeff and build a bit of a rapport (while Emer takes care of the numbers), Jeff gets to learn their needs.
Jeff recognizes that chefs don’t tick by the same clock as his other customers. He sees that chefs don’t always have the time to go to Citarella’s. He realizes that chefs just don’t have all day to go driving from one market to the next, searching for arugula, only to find that the green exists nowhere.
So, while Rustic Roots encourages online ordering for the general public, Jeff knows all online bets are off when it comes to chefs using the Shop button. Once an everyday dinner or a special event has been planned, a chef can usually phone Jeff directly, or sometimes send a list of items via email, to determine how much of that menu can really happen.
Because Rustic Roots deals in highly perishable, seasonal items, Jeff warns chefs not to rely on him as a sole source for everyday needs. But “for pretty cool, outlandish stuff” of the freshest, highest quality—including stuff like the wild forager’s ramps, fiddlehead ferns, and watercress—Rustic Roots always can be a chef’s go-to.
So, often with a two-day notice, much of the chef’s legwork for the cool and outlandish can be done through the coordination of Jeff, Emer, and the rest of the Rustic Roots team: Jeff’s mom and dad who have been at the couple’s side since day one; four delivery drivers and a warehouse guy; and the siblings and cousins who help out in the summers during time off from their teaching jobs.
Connecting You to Your Own Personal Farmer
Another bonus for chefs is Jeff and Emer’s connections with the farmers who “have the mindframe of doing things the right way” through organic and sustainable means and through just plain being good people. Rustic Roots basically works with farmers who care as much about what they’re doing as Jeff and Emer do. This means that they build close relationships with each other, often becoming good friends—sometimes even attending weddings together.
This also means that Jeff and Emer partner with people who are more than happy to meet the special requests of chefs, to the point that chefs can occasionally have their own personal farmers.
With a little heads-up, Jeff can be the intermediary between a chef and friend-farmers like Amy and Gail Hepworth and Gerry Greco of Hepworth Farms in Milton, NY or Laura De Maria of Hemlock Hill Farm in Cortlandt Manor, NY. In the past, when notified in time for the February planting schedule, Gail has grown sorrel and microgreens by special request for a Rustic Roots customer. Laura also worked with Jeff and his friend Mike (who owns Mike’s Organic Delivery in Connecticut) to put more animals out to pasture in order to meet their customers’ increasing demands, and to make a transplanted Upstate New Yorker amazed at the opportunity to get Hemlock Hill meat on Fire Island.
The Best Connection of All
While Jeff truly enjoys connecting home customers and chefs with farmers, he says the best part of running Rustic Roots is that he gets to work hand-in-hand with his wife. His friends pick on him about it: “What husband likes to hang out with his wife?” But he doesn’t care what they say, because he and Emer have been able to make life more meaningful by connecting to their Rustic Roots. Jeff beams, “Working with my wife is awesome. It’s great to grow something together.”