By Francesca Furey, with additional reporting by Matt Moment
Chef Leslie Woodward has been around the (butcher) block — food pun intended. However, there’s no butcher involved in her current venture: curating unique flavor profiles of nut milk at Edenesque, her nutritional, holistic Kingston-based brainchild. For more than 20 years, Woodward has dived deep into the world of clean eating. “If you have a cleaner diet, you overall have better health. A lot of food-related diseases, I believe, are connected to the way we eat and the lack of clean food,” she explains.
At Edenesque, the nut milks—almond, cashew, and oat—are free of additives, preservatives, stabilizers, and gluten. Many products are sourced within a 200-mile radius of the Hudson Valley, including oats from Wild Hive Farm in Clinton Corners and honey and maple syrup from Bee Hollow Farm in Schodack Landing.
Woodward admits it’s nearly impossible to locally source almonds and cashews, but Edenesque is working on a locally sourced and produced oat milk. To make the inaugural batch, 15 acres of oats were grown sustainably at Wally Farms in Ancram. “After nearly a decade working to bring nutritious and sustainable plant-based milks to the community and bring change in food production, it was a thrill to grow oats for our oat milk in partnership with Wally Farms,” says Woodward. “The dream of sourcing local, regeneratively grown ingredients for Edenesque milks feels closer than ever.” Oat milk of this caliber is hard to come by, meaning Edenesque boasts an impressive list of clients including renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Nut milk enthusiasts can enjoy an array of flavors, like carob date maple almond, raw honey vanilla bean cashew, and lightly sweetened oat. The milks are bottled in glass or compostable bottles with recycled labels, and leftover nut meal is composted at Solid Ground Farm in Kingston.
Edenesque has an open-employment policy for individuals of diverse abilities and those who are immigrants, domestic violence survivors, or were previously incarcerated. “We need to believe in each other and lift each other up,” says Woodward. “I don’t exist alone. I exist within a community.”