Interview with Patti Hamilton, Food Director
How did you get into cooking for large groups?
My husband and I own an organic farm and when my kids were little, I started taking them to the Common Ground Fair , put on by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA). Along the way, I began volunteering at the Fair on the 5am-9 shift, cooking for all the other people volunteering. I started out working the stovetop, making homefries for 300 people. I would just keep them coming for three hours.
I took over more of the cooking duties, and eventually I was recruited to coordinate the entire breakfast. I went from cooking to coordinating lots of volunteers. After that, things just “happened.” I started cooking for the pre-fair setup, soliciting donations, planning breakfast menus. One thing led to another, and I was asked to cook for other events, and before I knew it, I was catering events that had nothing to do with the Common Ground Fair. That is pretty much how it started. It just evolved.
What do you most like to cook?
I love to make salads (not just the regular lettuce and vegetable kind, but ones using whatever is fresh in the garden coupled with whole grains, fruit, nuts, pasta, and beans), hearty soups, and cookies.
What led you to becoming BikeMaine’s Food Director?
Jim Ahearn, MOFGA’s Common Ground Country Fair director, began meeting with the BikeMaine leadership in 2012 to discuss how they would handle the food on the route. Jim talked with me about BikeMaine’s interest in creating a Food Director position to make sure the meals served in the host communities were nutritious, delicious and made from in-season local foods. It seemed pretty interesting. When the position was posted, he sent me the job description. It seemed like a natural continuation of all that I have done and am doing: coordinating volunteers, planning and making great tasting food with local ingredients … helping to make lots of people happy with healthy, luscious, vibrant, fresh meals.
How important is it to you to use locally sourced ingredients?
It is very important to me. It is just who I am. And it seems logical to do so, especially in the month of September. There is so much fresh, great tasting food around in the state. There are so many hard working down-to- earth people in this state — people who give their lives to growing food — I support that!
Where will you be getting the food for BikeMaine?
We are getting food from a variety of sources throughout the state: farms along the route, in the host communities and around the state. For example, we will be getting the eggs from Bowden Egg Farm in Waldoboro, the chickens from Mainley Poultry in Warren, the venison from Dave McGlinchey in Brownville Junction and Kenneth Swett in Carmel, smoked salmon from DuckTrap in Lincolnville, and Kelp Krunch bars from Maine Coast Sea Vegetables,
Have you ever done any distance biking?
I rode the Trek Across Maine one year and I loved it!