Imagine the contents of your dream fridge.
Upon opening the door, do you see the freshly cut crudité and homemade salsa? Are the makings of the perfect charcuterie platter calling your name? Is that herby chicken salad waiting to be piled atop a crunchy baguette for an impromptu lunch?
If Snackcraft is stocking your fridge, then the answer is a resounding yes.
Based in Columbia County, the Hudson Valley catering company is the latest passion project for New York City-trained chef Nicole Craft. Most recently the executive chef of Bartlett House in Ghent, Craft launched Snackcraft as a full-time catering and meal service program after maintaining it as her side hustle for years.
Now, with self-isolation in full swing, she’s using it to help Hudson Valleyites support local and dine deliciously from the comfort of home.
“In the Hudson Valley, I initially began with weekly meal prep for a family in Westchester,” she reveals. “I loved that opportunity so much that I wanted to share that same experience with others and began targeting those who just didn’t have the time to curate a quality meal. As a single mother myself, one day I was imagining how a service like this would benefit me, so I got to planning.”
Morphing from its first incarnation as a tea sandwich delivery program to cafés in NYC, the Snackcraft of today is a snack-focused service for Columbia County, Dutchess County, and New York City residents. Each week, Craft delivers high quality food packages that she customizes based on allergies, dietary restrictions, and preferences. She currently offers three different packages – snacks, sides and vegetables, and proteins – and each one sounds like a farm-to-table dream come true.
In the snack pack, which costs $28 and feeds four, Craft tempts taste buds with bites like a Hudson Valley charcuterie board, cast iron focaccia and white bean hummus, and frittata with spring herbs and salsa verde. For veggie-centric eaters, her sides and vegetables menu is $32 and includes roasted carrots with dukkah, charred cabbage with short rib caper aioli, and whole roasted cauliflower with pomegranate vinaigrette, to name only a few. To go along with it, the $60 proteins menu hits farm-to-table out of the park with slow-roasted Kinderhook Farm pork shoulder and Pigasso Farms whole chicken with bread salad and burnt spring onion vinaigrette.
“I love healthy grain- and vegetable-based food, but I also love all of the animals, too,” she says. “I am influenced by simple, seasonal fare and bold flavors.”
To create her snack-tastic dishes, she works closely with Forts Ferry Farm in Latham, along with Pigasso Farms in Copake, Kinderhook Farm Store in Valatie, Tivoli Mushrooms in Hudson, and Hawthorne Valley Farm Store in Ghent. While she loves the farms for their heirloom produce and meat, she also hopes to support them during a time of need.
To this end, she recently launched her Friday family meal program as a multipronged effort to provide Hudson Valley families with affordable, nutritious cuisine while supporting local farms and minimizing waste. Each week, she collaborates with local farms to turn their excess vegetables into a menu from which people in the program can order. Options change each week (Mediterranean meatloaf and whipped sweet potatoes, anyone?), with a suggested donation of $15 per person. After placing orders by 6 p.m. on Thursday, families can wait in anticipation to receive a nourishing, homecooked meal delivered straight to their door. Craft may offer a pickup location in the future, but, for now, she’s cooking and delivering herself.
“I was thinking about the nurses, grocery store workers, and people close to me who were still working in the service industry [during the COVID-19 outbreak],” she explains of her motivation to launch the family meal program. “It dawned up on me that they probably don’t have as much time to provide for themselves, so I wanted to nourish them, and Forts Ferry Farm jumped on board as soon as I mentioned my idea.”
Of course, snack packages and family meals aren’t Snackcraft’s only offerings. As a self-proclaimed busy bee, Craft continues to offer private chef services, weekly meal planning, and customized menus for locals who want to dine deliciously during quarantine and beyond. She takes every safety precaution in the kitchen, including wearing gloves and a mask and maintaining a sterile environment.
“I’m the type of person who can never be idle,” she admits. “COVID-19 has opened up a whole new way of life and plunged the community into unprecedented circumstances. I found that [Snackcraft] was the perfect opportunity for me to not only stay active but to also be helpful to our community.”