With such an overabundance of packaged, boxed, and premade food available at the supermarket, it’s often easy to forget where our meals are actually coming from. Jane Watson, founder of Green Peas TV — an online show focusing on farms, food, and chefs from the Hudson Valley and surrounding area — wants to change that.
“I like to describe Green Peas TV as the Food Network meets reality — with all the mistakes left in,” Watson says. Aimed at promoting both local agriculture and tourism, each show features a regional chef cooking with locally sourced products. Watson also films the locations where the ingredients were originally grown, raised, or cultivated.
“I started the project because I’m really interested in helping people understand why they need to support our local farms, instead of just buying food that’s been stuffed in a box and shipped across the country,” she says. “We aim to do this in an entertaining way — not in a preachy way — by showing people that garlic comes out of the ground, maple syrup comes from trees, and blueberries grow on a bush, all at farms before going on the grocery store shelf.”
A recent episode features renowned Rockland County chef Peter X. Kelly of the Xaviars restaurant group (which runs the highly rated Xaviars at Piermont, among other notable eateries) preparing griddled quail with corn maque choux (a spicy corn side dish) and cherry mostarda (a mustard-like sauce) on a small balcony outcrop on the Mid-Hudson Bridge. Watson came up with the idea of filming on the bridge shortly after meeting local musician/composer Joseph Bertolozzi at a tourism seminar; Bertolozzi is known for Bridge Music, a composition in which he used mallets to “play” parts of the span like a giant percussion instrument. (The recording was a hit, and even reached number 18 on the Billboard Crossover charts last year.) “It just all came together after that,” Watson says. “I thought, ‘If I’m going to promote the Hudson Valley, I’m going to show everyone on the Internet and across the country how beautiful this area is by filming from this view,’ ” with the river, sky, trees, and the Walkway Over the Hudson as a backdrop.
Chef Kelly was into the idea from the start. He says he’s cooked in unique places before — including on a Macy’s rooftop — but agrees that the bridge location takes the cake. “My first reaction was ‘Well, that’s pretty high up for a cooking show,’ ” he laughed. “But really, I think it’s great. I live in the Valley, my restaurants are here, and as a chef, I utilize local farmers; being able to set up on the bridge and look over everything made this show very significant to me.”
The dish is one that Kelly serves in his restaurants, and he says it represents the Valley well. “The quail was raised on a Valley farm, the corn and seasonings in the maque choux come from different places around the region, and we picked the cherries from an orchard in Pomona on the day we filmed,” he explained. The meal was paired with the chef’s personal favorite local wine: a Millbrook Winery pinot noir called Xaviars Cuvee.
Rather than just whipping up the meal for the camera, Kelly is shown teaching his son how to chop, cook, and prepare it. “I always put the chef with someone who doesn’t normally cook for each episode,” Watson says. “When you see someone who’s not a chef learning how to do it, you think, ‘If they could do it, I can do it, too’ and it’s very rewarding.”
View episodes, recipes, and more at www.greenpeastv.tv.