With help from some friends, the public market adds new demo kitchen

Opening the public market’s new demo kitchen are, from left, City Councilor Mitch Gruber, demonstration cooks Desiree Bass and Marcy McMahon, City Councilor Michael Patterson, City Commissioner Daniele Lyman-Torres, Market Manager Jim Farr, and Wegmans Consumer Relations Manager Linda Lovejoy. (Photo by Diana Louise Carter)

Opening the public market’s new demo kitchen are, from left, City Councilor Mitch Gruber, demonstration cooks Desiree Bass and Marcy McMahon, City Councilor Michael Patterson, City Commissioner Daniele Lyman-Torres, Market Manager Jim Farr, and Wegmans Consumer Relations Manager Linda Lovejoy. (Photo by Diana Louise Carter)

By: Diana Louise Carter May 9, 2019

Gone is the camping stove. In its place, a shiny new commercial grade range and oven.

Food demonstrations at the Rochester City Public Market just got a huge upgrade with the opening Thursday morning of the new Public Market Nutrition Education Center.

City officials and representatives of companies and organizations that supported creation and operation of the demonstration kitchen conducted a ribbon-cutting at the new center. Set inside the public market’s Shed B, the kitchen offers the opportunity for more elaborate preparations of foods that can be made with products sold at the market.

“We have an oven now, which means we can roast vegetables,” said Desiree Bass, one of two Foodlink employees who were preparing samples of asparagus in vinaigrette for observers of the opening. Co-demonstrator Marcy McMahon said the women have had to limit their demos to cold salads or things they could cook on a camping stove in the past.

With the new equipment, donated by Wegmans, the demonstration kitchen will also be able to do more and offer new programs. The Just Say Yes to Fruits and Vegetables workshops from Foodlink will be offered every Thursday and Saturday morning at 9 and 10 a.m.

Meanwhile, the Friends of the Rochester Public Market organization also is introducing the Taste of the Market Series, in which community organizations and guest chefs will offer classes and demos on two Saturdays a month.

“I can’t wait to see what Friends of the Market will roll out,” said Daniele J. Lyman-Torres, commissioner of recreation and youth services, the city department that oversees the market.   “This new nutrition center is really going to be a hub,” she said.

Jim Farr, market manager, said the kitchen has been a decade in the making as upgrades were planned for the more-than-century-old market in recent years.

“Coming to the market is as much a social outing as it is a place to get what you need,” Farr said. “Food and kitchens just naturally bring people together.”

Farr said the kitchen cost about $140,000 to build, with a state grant paying for $100,000 of that.  Wegmans donated approximately $30,000 in kitchen equipment and supplies. Summit Federal Credit Union funds programming for the kitchen, as well as the trolley that brings shoppers from their cars in distant parking lots.

City Councilor Mitch Gruber said making sure people have access to fresh, nutritious foods has always been a goal of the market, but the kitchen demos make sure shoppers gain the skills to prepare those foods.

“This public market is the best in the country. It’s a jewel and something to be very proud of,” said Linda Lovejoy, community relations manager for Wegmans.

The market also inspires feelings of familial tradition and ownership, evidenced by comments offered by Gruber and fellow City Councilor Michael Patterson. Gruber and his wife were married at the market. Patterson recalled his frequent visits as a child with his grandparents. He continues to visit frequently.

“I learned how to haggle in his market,” Patterson said.  “You get a lesson in commerce in this place.” Patterson joked that his main purpose in visiting Thursday was to get some special bread from a bakery there, only to find out he was competing for the loaves with another customer who turned out to be his wife.

While the new demonstration kitchen cannot be rented for commercial purposes, citizens can offer ideas for its programming by contacting the market through its webpage or its social media.

dcarter@bridgetowermedia.com/(585) 363-7275