A culinary online center dedicated to promoting the importance and the joy of American home cooking with an emphasis on local products and talent, celebrating the unique spirit and energy of the new food world ethos, especially in Vermont.

amuse bouche

I love quotes that add meaning to my life. Here are a few to live by:

Approach love and cooking with reckless abandon.
—The Dalai Lama

Rhubarb is a metaphor for finding happiness in your own backyard.
—Garrison Keillor

Buy your snacks from a farmers’ market.
—Michael Pollan

Even when he had a garden in Paris, Thomas Jefferson cultivated Indian corn, “to eat green in our manner, …as quickly after it left the stalk as possible.
—Evan Jones, from American Food

Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, Part II

unnamed-3

Just A Little Stir
How do you interview iconic restaurant owner, Avery Rifkin? You don’t. You let him interview you, something he’s very good at, as many of his customers know. It’s part of the charm of Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, his singular restaurant.  Rifkin’s presence is one of host and interlocutor, while his partner, Tim Eliott remains quietly in the background.  Avery’s warmth and kindness toward his “guests” is one of the reasons the restaurant is so popular. And, even as I write this, I know I will be causing just a little stir in the otherwise amiability of the man. He is genuinely modest about his contributions to the restaurant’s eighteen years of success.

The Right Formula
Partnerships in any business don’t come easily. There’s always some decision that divides two people working together, as almost any marital partnership reminds us. Somehow, Eliott and Rifkin have found the right formula for their business partnership. It’s one that many would envy but it’s not easily defined. Perhaps, it’s because they came together with the same desire, a desire to build a restaurant that anyone could afford to dine in. And, I add to this, they wanted to make the restaurant a place where anyone would feel at home. They have achieved this in so many ways but it didn’t happen by chance, because, as we all know, “the devil is in the details,” and Rifkin is good at details.

318fb6db-bfae-43ab-837a-bd2273d20c85

Stop and Look Around
The next time you walk into Stone Soup stop and look around. Though I know this is not easy because of the array of the delicious dishes to choose from set out on a handsome buffet, but next time, stop and look. I do because I’ve begun to realize things are always changing at Stone Soup.  Though everything looks as though it had been there for a lifetime, in fact in the twelve years I’ve been eating at Stone Soup, the entire back half of the kitchen area has been redesigned –Tim’s idea because his career started as a dishwasher and he wanted a perfect dishwashing area for his staff. It is, in fact, a marvel of dishwashing engineering, one that I envy. The gleaming stainless steel counters that surround the large sinks and commercial dishwashing machine (why doesn’t GE make a home dishwasher that washes and dries in 15 minutes?) are a model for anyone who loves to roll up their sleeves and dive into the suds.

Hamburger Fridays
Recently, diamond-faceted globes have been hung above the handsome, ornate main counter of the restaurant replacing the originals and giving off just the right amount of prisimed light for the display of challah and whole-grain breads, cakes and cookies that are as delectable as they look. Installed last year, a new counter at the back of the room is now the best place to be on the restaurant’s “hamburger Fridays” when Avery proves that he is what his partner says he is, “ the meat-whisperer”, making the best hamburgers in town. And though he is glad that many loyal customers make Fridays a habit, there are just as many who swear by his brisket, the sweet and tangy chicken wings and the absolutely authentic chicken livers with crisp skin cracklings and fried onions served as a sandwich, all part of each week’s menu.

post

Gracefully Into The Pond
There are so many small details that make the interior of the restaurant unique. As a regular customer, I’ve admired but never asked why there is a print of a pig diving gracefully into a pond hanging on a wall overlooking the dining room.  It’s part of the mystery of Stone Soup, and I doubt that I’ll ever ask that question because I want that little bit of mystery to always be there.

Every print and photograph on the walls is chosen by Rifkin.  They reinforce the feeling of longevity and community that is the essence of Stone Soup.  As a transplanted New Yorker, I recognize what these photos represent. Some are from an earlier era of restaurant history, some of restaurant neighbors in Burlington. Some identify the contribution of local farmers through scenes of working landscapes and farming equipment.  All are Stone Soup’s version of the signed “celebrity” and “faithful customer” photos that hang on the walls of dairy restaurants and delicatessens all around the five boroughs. In Stone Soups case, the photos are a tribute to restaurant life and the local farming community, both so important to the success of the restaurant.  It’s a tradition that Rifkin knows well growing up in Rochester, New York with his father, a professor at NYU, an excuse for frequent trips to Manhattan. His love for New York extends to the Adirondacks. The high-backed chairs recently installed at the counter overlooking the kitchen, a tribute to the other side of the lake.

unnamed-5

What About Local?
What about local? This is a question I always ask in a restaurant in Vermont because it’s an important part of our agricultural economy to buy locally. It’s a way of supporting community and acting on what you believe in if you believe in small farms as most of us do in the Green Mountain State. But I didn’t have to ask Rifkin this question because it’s evident how local the food is at Stone Soup.

Without a separate delivery entrance, all deliveries come through the front door and right past the customers sitting at tables in the main area of the dining room, headed to the storage rooms below. On the day that I interviewed Rifkin, a farmer with several bags of produce appeared.  With a welcome, Rifkin was on his feet immediately and called out to the busy staff, “All hands on deck!” Soon, the produce bags were out of sight and Rifkin was offering the farmer some freshly baked cookies for the road home. When I asked how long had the restaurant been buying locally, the answer was, “From the beginning. It never occurred to us to do it any other way.” Rifkin and Elliot were ahead of the “local” curve because local fit a tenet of their business plan: to serve the community.

blog post

Not A Vegetarian Restaurant
What Stone Soup is to many of its customers is a vegetarian restaurant, though it isn’t really one.  That’s because Eliott built his reputation at a much admired vegetarian delicatessen and market on Main Street, Organum. At the same time, Avery was working for Olive Branch, a bakery and take-out in the South End. When City Market, a restaurant on College Street in downtown Burlington, closed, both men, separately, took a look at the space. Soon, they were meeting daily for lunch at Nectar’s, the music venue and bar on Main Street, discussing their ideas about the possibility of partnership.  It’s a classic restaurant start-up saga: Two men with a vision team up and months later the city is graced with a new restaurant, one that today –eighteen years later- is still a success.

Love In Plain Sight
I credit commitment as a factor that has made Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup such a happy ending-story, but I also credit something far subtler, I credit love. It is something you feel when you walk in the door and under the electric sign that says “Hot Kale”, a gift from the staff. You feel it when you hand your full plate over to be weighed to one of the servers and they know who you are. You feel it when you see Eliott’s broad smile beaming at some joke from another staff member slicing up carrots on the broad wooden cutting board in the kitchen. You feel it when you see a customer greeting Rifkin with a huge bear hug in the center of the dining room; and you see it in the total transparency of the restaurant, itself, where all the cooking is done in plain sight.

unnamed-6
Check out Stone Soup’s website for daily menus and hours at s
tonesoupvt.com, or just stop by to see what it’s all about for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

À Bientôt,

bronwyn-signature11

 

 

 

Posted: 5-15-2016

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Just A Little Stir
How do you interview iconic restaurant owner, Avery Rifkin? You don’t. You let him interview you, something he’s very good at, as many of his customers know. It’s part of the charm of Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, his singular restaurant.  Rifkin’s presence is one of host and interlocutor, while his partner, Tim Eliott remains quietly in the background.  Avery’s warmth and kindness toward his “guests” is one of the reasons the restaurant is so popular. And, even as I write this, I know I will be causing just a little stir in the otherwise amiability of the man. He is genuinely modest about his contributions to the restaurant’s eighteen years of success.

The Right Formula
Partnerships in any business don’t come easily. There’s always some decision that divides two people working together, as almost any marital partnership reminds us. Somehow, Eliott and Rifkin have found the right formula for their business partnership. It’s one that many would envy but it’s not easily defined. Perhaps, it’s because they came together with the same desire, a desire to build a restaurant that anyone could afford to dine in. And, I add to this, they wanted to make the restaurant a place where anyone would feel at home. They have achieved this in so many ways but it didn’t happen by chance, because, as we all know, “the devil is in the details,” and Rifkin is good at details.

318fb6db-bfae-43ab-837a-bd2273d20c85

Stop and Look Around
The next time you walk into Stone Soup stop and look around. Though I know this is not easy because of the array of the delicious dishes to choose from set out on a handsome buffet, but next time, stop and look. I do because I’ve begun to realize things are always changing at Stone Soup.  Though everything looks as though it had been there for a lifetime, in fact in the twelve years I’ve been eating at Stone Soup, the entire back half of the kitchen area has been redesigned –Tim’s idea because his career started as a dishwasher and he wanted a perfect dishwashing area for his staff. It is, in fact, a marvel of dishwashing engineering, one that I envy. The gleaming stainless steel counters that surround the large sinks and commercial dishwashing machine (why doesn’t GE make a home dishwasher that washes and dries in 15 minutes?) are a model for anyone who loves to roll up their sleeves and dive into the suds.

Hamburger Fridays
Recently, diamond-faceted globes have been hung above the handsome, ornate main counter of the restaurant replacing the originals and giving off just the right amount of prisimed light for the display of challah and whole-grain breads, cakes and cookies that are as delectable as they look. Installed last year, a new counter at the back of the room is now the best place to be on the restaurant’s “hamburger Fridays” when Avery proves that he is what his partner says he is, “ the meat-whisperer”, making the best hamburgers in town. And though he is glad that many loyal customers make Fridays a habit, there are just as many who swear by his brisket, the sweet and tangy chicken wings and the absolutely authentic chicken livers with crisp skin cracklings and fried onions served as a sandwich, all part of each week’s menu.

post

Gracefully Into The Pond
There are so many small details that make the interior of the restaurant unique. As a regular customer, I’ve admired but never asked why there is a print of a pig diving gracefully into a pond hanging on a wall overlooking the dining room.  It’s part of the mystery of Stone Soup, and I doubt that I’ll ever ask that question because I want that little bit of mystery to always be there.

Every print and photograph on the walls is chosen by Rifkin.  They reinforce the feeling of longevity and community that is the essence of Stone Soup.  As a transplanted New Yorker, I recognize what these photos represent. Some are from an earlier era of restaurant history, some of restaurant neighbors in Burlington. Some identify the contribution of local farmers through scenes of working landscapes and farming equipment.  All are Stone Soup’s version of the signed “celebrity” and “faithful customer” photos that hang on the walls of dairy restaurants and delicatessens all around the five boroughs. In Stone Soups case, the photos are a tribute to restaurant life and the local farming community, both so important to the success of the restaurant.  It’s a tradition that Rifkin knows well growing up in Rochester, New York with his father, a professor at NYU, an excuse for frequent trips to Manhattan. His love for New York extends to the Adirondacks. The high-backed chairs recently installed at the counter overlooking the kitchen, a tribute to the other side of the lake.

unnamed-5

What About Local?
What about local? This is a question I always ask in a restaurant in Vermont because it’s an important part of our agricultural economy to buy locally. It’s a way of supporting community and acting on what you believe in if you believe in small farms as most of us do in the Green Mountain State. But I didn’t have to ask Rifkin this question because it’s evident how local the food is at Stone Soup.

 Without a separate delivery entrance, all deliveries come through the front door and right past the customers sitting at tables in the main area of the dining room, headed to the storage rooms below. On the day that I interviewed Rifkin, a farmer with several bags of produce appeared.  With a welcome, Rifkin was on his feet immediately and called out to the busy staff, “All hands on deck!” Soon, the produce bags were out of sight and Rifkin was offering the farmer some freshly baked cookies for the road home. When I asked how long had the restaurant been buying locally, the answer was, “From the beginning. It never occurred to us to do it any other way.” Rifkin and Elliot were ahead of the “local” curve because local fit a tenet of their business plan: to serve the community.

blog post

Not A Vegetarian Restaurant
What Stone Soup is to many of its customers is a vegetarian restaurant, though it isn’t really one.  That’s because Eliott built his reputation at a much admired vegetarian delicatessen and market on Main Street, Organum. At the same time, Avery was working for Olive Branch, a bakery and take-out in the South End. When City Market, a restaurant on College Street in downtown Burlington, closed, both men, separately, took a look at the space. Soon, they were meeting daily for lunch at Nectar’s, the music venue and bar on Main Street, discussing their ideas about the possibility of partnership.  It’s a classic restaurant start-up saga: Two men with a vision team up and months later the city is graced with a new restaurant, one that today –eighteen years later- is still a success.

Love In Plain Sight
I credit commitment as a factor that has made Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup such a happy ending-story, but I also credit something far subtler, I credit love. It is something you feel when you walk in the door and under the electric sign that says “Hot Kale”, a gift from the staff. You feel it when you hand your full plate over to be weighed to one of the servers and they know who you are. You feel it when you see Eliott’s broad smile beaming at some joke from another staff member slicing up carrots on the broad wooden cutting board in the kitchen. You feel it when you see a customer greeting Rifkin with a huge bear hug in the center of the dining room; and you see it in the total transparency of the restaurant, itself, where all the cooking is done in plain sight.
unnamed-6 Check out Stone Soup’s website for daily menus and hours at stonesoupvt.com, or just stop by to see what it’s all about for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
À Bientôt, bronwyn-signature11      " ["post_title"]=> string(35) "Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, Part II" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(81) "Read the second part to the post on Avery Rifkin & Tim Elliott's Stone Soup here." 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You let him interview you, something he’s very good at, as many of his customers know. It’s part of the charm of Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, his singular restaurant.  Rifkin’s presence is one of host and interlocutor, while his partner, Tim Eliott remains quietly in the background.  Avery’s warmth and kindness toward his “guests” is one of the reasons the restaurant is so popular. And, even as I write this, I know I will be causing just a little stir in the otherwise amiability of the man. He is genuinely modest about his contributions to the restaurant’s eighteen years of success. The Right Formula Partnerships in any business don’t come easily. There’s always some decision that divides two people working together, as almost any marital partnership reminds us. Somehow, Eliott and Rifkin have found the right formula for their business partnership. It’s one that many would envy but it’s not easily defined. Perhaps, it’s because they came together with the same desire, a desire to build a restaurant that anyone could afford to dine in. And, I add to this, they wanted to make the restaurant a place where anyone would feel at home. They have achieved this in so many ways but it didn’t happen by chance, because, as we all know, “the devil is in the details,” and Rifkin is good at details. 318fb6db-bfae-43ab-837a-bd2273d20c85 Stop and Look Around The next time you walk into Stone Soup stop and look around. Though I know this is not easy because of the array of the delicious dishes to choose from set out on a handsome buffet, but next time, stop and look. I do because I’ve begun to realize things are always changing at Stone Soup.  Though everything looks as though it had been there for a lifetime, in fact in the twelve years I’ve been eating at Stone Soup, the entire back half of the kitchen area has been redesigned –Tim’s idea because his career started as a dishwasher and he wanted a perfect dishwashing area for his staff. It is, in fact, a marvel of dishwashing engineering, one that I envy. The gleaming stainless steel counters that surround the large sinks and commercial dishwashing machine (why doesn’t GE make a home dishwasher that washes and dries in 15 minutes?) are a model for anyone who loves to roll up their sleeves and dive into the suds. Hamburger Fridays Recently, diamond-faceted globes have been hung above the handsome, ornate main counter of the restaurant replacing the originals and giving off just the right amount of prisimed light for the display of challah and whole-grain breads, cakes and cookies that are as delectable as they look. Installed last year, a new counter at the back of the room is now the best place to be on the restaurant’s “hamburger Fridays” when Avery proves that he is what his partner says he is, “ the meat-whisperer”, making the best hamburgers in town. And though he is glad that many loyal customers make Fridays a habit, there are just as many who swear by his brisket, the sweet and tangy chicken wings and the absolutely authentic chicken livers with crisp skin cracklings and fried onions served as a sandwich, all part of each week’s menu. post Gracefully Into The Pond There are so many small details that make the interior of the restaurant unique. As a regular customer, I’ve admired but never asked why there is a print of a pig diving gracefully into a pond hanging on a wall overlooking the dining room.  It’s part of the mystery of Stone Soup, and I doubt that I’ll ever ask that question because I want that little bit of mystery to always be there. Every print and photograph on the walls is chosen by Rifkin.  They reinforce the feeling of longevity and community that is the essence of Stone Soup.  As a transplanted New Yorker, I recognize what these photos represent. Some are from an earlier era of restaurant history, some of restaurant neighbors in Burlington. Some identify the contribution of local farmers through scenes of working landscapes and farming equipment.  All are Stone Soup’s version of the signed “celebrity” and “faithful customer” photos that hang on the walls of dairy restaurants and delicatessens all around the five boroughs. In Stone Soups case, the photos are a tribute to restaurant life and the local farming community, both so important to the success of the restaurant.  It’s a tradition that Rifkin knows well growing up in Rochester, New York with his father, a professor at NYU, an excuse for frequent trips to Manhattan. His love for New York extends to the Adirondacks. The high-backed chairs recently installed at the counter overlooking the kitchen, a tribute to the other side of the lake. unnamed-5 What About Local? What about local? This is a question I always ask in a restaurant in Vermont because it’s an important part of our agricultural economy to buy locally. It’s a way of supporting community and acting on what you believe in if you believe in small farms as most of us do in the Green Mountain State. But I didn’t have to ask Rifkin this question because it’s evident how local the food is at Stone Soup. Without a separate delivery entrance, all deliveries come through the front door and right past the customers sitting at tables in the main area of the dining room, headed to the storage rooms below. On the day that I interviewed Rifkin, a farmer with several bags of produce appeared.  With a welcome, Rifkin was on his feet immediately and called out to the busy staff, “All hands on deck!” Soon, the produce bags were out of sight and Rifkin was offering the farmer some freshly baked cookies for the road home. When I asked how long had the restaurant been buying locally, the answer was, “From the beginning. It never occurred to us to do it any other way.” Rifkin and Elliot were ahead of the “local” curve because local fit a tenet of their business plan: to serve the community. blog post Not A Vegetarian Restaurant What Stone Soup is to many of its customers is a vegetarian restaurant, though it isn’t really one.  That’s because Eliott built his reputation at a much admired vegetarian delicatessen and market on Main Street, Organum. At the same time, Avery was working for Olive Branch, a bakery and take-out in the South End. When City Market, a restaurant on College Street in downtown Burlington, closed, both men, separately, took a look at the space. Soon, they were meeting daily for lunch at Nectar’s, the music venue and bar on Main Street, discussing their ideas about the possibility of partnership.  It’s a classic restaurant start-up saga: Two men with a vision team up and months later the city is graced with a new restaurant, one that today –eighteen years later- is still a success. Love In Plain Sight I credit commitment as a factor that has made Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup such a happy ending-story, but I also credit something far subtler, I credit love. It is something you feel when you walk in the door and under the electric sign that says “Hot Kale”, a gift from the staff. You feel it when you hand your full plate over to be weighed to one of the servers and they know who you are. You feel it when you see Eliott’s broad smile beaming at some joke from another staff member slicing up carrots on the broad wooden cutting board in the kitchen. You feel it when you see a customer greeting Rifkin with a huge bear hug in the center of the dining room; and you see it in the total transparency of the restaurant, itself, where all the cooking is done in plain sight.
unnamed-6 Check out Stone Soup’s website for daily menus and hours at stonesoupvt.com, or just stop by to see what it’s all about for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
À Bientôt, bronwyn-signature11      " ["post_title"]=> string(35) "Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, Part II" ["post_excerpt"]=> string(81) "Read the second part to the post on Avery Rifkin & Tim Elliott's Stone Soup here." ["post_status"]=> string(7) "publish" ["comment_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["ping_status"]=> string(4) "open" ["post_password"]=> string(0) "" ["post_name"]=> string(29) "zabby-elfs-stone-soup-part-ii" ["to_ping"]=> string(0) "" ["pinged"]=> string(0) "" ["post_modified"]=> string(19) "2016-05-16 22:05:52" ["post_modified_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-05-16 22:05:52" ["post_content_filtered"]=> string(0) "" ["post_parent"]=> int(0) ["guid"]=> string(42) "http://inthekitchenwithbronwyn.com/?p=4110" ["menu_order"]=> int(0) ["post_type"]=> string(4) "post" ["post_mime_type"]=> string(0) "" ["comment_count"]=> string(1) "5" ["filter"]=> string(3) "raw" } ["queried_object"]=> object(WP_Post)#371 (24) { ["ID"]=> int(4110) ["post_author"]=> string(1) "1" ["post_date"]=> string(19) "2016-05-15 18:42:03" ["post_date_gmt"]=> string(19) "2016-05-15 18:42:03" ["post_content"]=> string(10824) "unnamed-3 Just A Little Stir How do you interview iconic restaurant owner, Avery Rifkin? You don’t. You let him interview you, something he’s very good at, as many of his customers know. It’s part of the charm of Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, his singular restaurant.  Rifkin’s presence is one of host and interlocutor, while his partner, Tim Eliott remains quietly in the background.  Avery’s warmth and kindness toward his “guests” is one of the reasons the restaurant is so popular. And, even as I write this, I know I will be causing just a little stir in the otherwise amiability of the man. He is genuinely modest about his contributions to the restaurant’s eighteen years of success. The Right Formula Partnerships in any business don’t come easily. There’s always some decision that divides two people working together, as almost any marital partnership reminds us. Somehow, Eliott and Rifkin have found the right formula for their business partnership. It’s one that many would envy but it’s not easily defined. Perhaps, it’s because they came together with the same desire, a desire to build a restaurant that anyone could afford to dine in. And, I add to this, they wanted to make the restaurant a place where anyone would feel at home. They have achieved this in so many ways but it didn’t happen by chance, because, as we all know, “the devil is in the details,” and Rifkin is good at details. 318fb6db-bfae-43ab-837a-bd2273d20c85 Stop and Look Around The next time you walk into Stone Soup stop and look around. Though I know this is not easy because of the array of the delicious dishes to choose from set out on a handsome buffet, but next time, stop and look. I do because I’ve begun to realize things are always changing at Stone Soup.  Though everything looks as though it had been there for a lifetime, in fact in the twelve years I’ve been eating at Stone Soup, the entire back half of the kitchen area has been redesigned –Tim’s idea because his career started as a dishwasher and he wanted a perfect dishwashing area for his staff. It is, in fact, a marvel of dishwashing engineering, one that I envy. The gleaming stainless steel counters that surround the large sinks and commercial dishwashing machine (why doesn’t GE make a home dishwasher that washes and dries in 15 minutes?) are a model for anyone who loves to roll up their sleeves and dive into the suds. Hamburger Fridays Recently, diamond-faceted globes have been hung above the handsome, ornate main counter of the restaurant replacing the originals and giving off just the right amount of prisimed light for the display of challah and whole-grain breads, cakes and cookies that are as delectable as they look. Installed last year, a new counter at the back of the room is now the best place to be on the restaurant’s “hamburger Fridays” when Avery proves that he is what his partner says he is, “ the meat-whisperer”, making the best hamburgers in town. And though he is glad that many loyal customers make Fridays a habit, there are just as many who swear by his brisket, the sweet and tangy chicken wings and the absolutely authentic chicken livers with crisp skin cracklings and fried onions served as a sandwich, all part of each week’s menu. post Gracefully Into The Pond There are so many small details that make the interior of the restaurant unique. As a regular customer, I’ve admired but never asked why there is a print of a pig diving gracefully into a pond hanging on a wall overlooking the dining room.  It’s part of the mystery of Stone Soup, and I doubt that I’ll ever ask that question because I want that little bit of mystery to always be there. Every print and photograph on the walls is chosen by Rifkin.  They reinforce the feeling of longevity and community that is the essence of Stone Soup.  As a transplanted New Yorker, I recognize what these photos represent. Some are from an earlier era of restaurant history, some of restaurant neighbors in Burlington. Some identify the contribution of local farmers through scenes of working landscapes and farming equipment.  All are Stone Soup’s version of the signed “celebrity” and “faithful customer” photos that hang on the walls of dairy restaurants and delicatessens all around the five boroughs. In Stone Soups case, the photos are a tribute to restaurant life and the local farming community, both so important to the success of the restaurant.  It’s a tradition that Rifkin knows well growing up in Rochester, New York with his father, a professor at NYU, an excuse for frequent trips to Manhattan. His love for New York extends to the Adirondacks. The high-backed chairs recently installed at the counter overlooking the kitchen, a tribute to the other side of the lake. unnamed-5 What About Local? What about local? This is a question I always ask in a restaurant in Vermont because it’s an important part of our agricultural economy to buy locally. It’s a way of supporting community and acting on what you believe in if you believe in small farms as most of us do in the Green Mountain State. But I didn’t have to ask Rifkin this question because it’s evident how local the food is at Stone Soup. Without a separate delivery entrance, all deliveries come through the front door and right past the customers sitting at tables in the main area of the dining room, headed to the storage rooms below. On the day that I interviewed Rifkin, a farmer with several bags of produce appeared.  With a welcome, Rifkin was on his feet immediately and called out to the busy staff, “All hands on deck!” Soon, the produce bags were out of sight and Rifkin was offering the farmer some freshly baked cookies for the road home. When I asked how long had the restaurant been buying locally, the answer was, “From the beginning. It never occurred to us to do it any other way.” Rifkin and Elliot were ahead of the “local” curve because local fit a tenet of their business plan: to serve the community. blog post Not A Vegetarian Restaurant What Stone Soup is to many of its customers is a vegetarian restaurant, though it isn’t really one.  That’s because Eliott built his reputation at a much admired vegetarian delicatessen and market on Main Street, Organum. At the same time, Avery was working for Olive Branch, a bakery and take-out in the South End. When City Market, a restaurant on College Street in downtown Burlington, closed, both men, separately, took a look at the space. Soon, they were meeting daily for lunch at Nectar’s, the music venue and bar on Main Street, discussing their ideas about the possibility of partnership.  It’s a classic restaurant start-up saga: Two men with a vision team up and months later the city is graced with a new restaurant, one that today –eighteen years later- is still a success. Love In Plain Sight I credit commitment as a factor that has made Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup such a happy ending-story, but I also credit something far subtler, I credit love. It is something you feel when you walk in the door and under the electric sign that says “Hot Kale”, a gift from the staff. You feel it when you hand your full plate over to be weighed to one of the servers and they know who you are. You feel it when you see Eliott’s broad smile beaming at some joke from another staff member slicing up carrots on the broad wooden cutting board in the kitchen. You feel it when you see a customer greeting Rifkin with a huge bear hug in the center of the dining room; and you see it in the total transparency of the restaurant, itself, where all the cooking is done in plain sight.
unnamed-6 Check out Stone Soup’s website for daily menus and hours at stonesoupvt.com, or just stop by to see what it’s all about for yourself. You won’t be disappointed.
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5 responses to “Zabby & Elf’s Stone Soup, Part II”

  1. Margo Davis says:

    This lovely piece about Zabby and Elf alone makes me want to move to Burlington!! Wonderful writing…about a wonderful restaurant…that I have only had the great pleasure of eating in one time! If you live near Burlington, you are blessed.

  2. Polly Connell says:

    May have missed this reference earlier, but need to know why Zabby and Elf’s? Is this a reference to Avery Rifkin and Tim Eliot? My husband and I go often because we love the home cooked food, the reasonable prices and the casual ambiance. It’s a great dinner spot before catching an early movie at The Roxy or show at the Flynn or Flynn Space.

  3. Yes, Polly, the reference is to the owners. As I understand it, they were persuaded by friends not to call the restuarant Zabby and Elf’s, their nicknames, so compromised by calling it Stone Soup.

  4. Linda says:

    Every time we come to Burlington we have to go to Stone Soup. I really wish that they would write a cookbook!

  5. I have known Elf since he was a dishwasher. The passion that he has for food is rivaled only by his big smile and even bigger heart. From humble beginnings he has come naturally to understand the incredible value of local organic ingredients. From produce to life it is what he grew up on. What you may miss in his humble countenance is that Tim genuinely loves life, food and the value of simple ingredients that blend together and form nutrition that calls you home. When Zabby and Elf came together it was a match made in Heaven’s kitchen. The secrets that make them such an amazing team are as elusive and tangible as the hints of fresh herbs and spice that tickle your tastebuds in their kitchen. I for one look forward to my visits to Stone Soup and make them a regular stop when I travel to the region from Texas.

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