WINTER HARBOR — “Farm to cafeteria” is a movement to change the culture of food and agricultural literacy across America in schools, universities, hospitals and other institutional settings.
Closer to home, it is being embraced by the Schoodic Institute in Winter Harbor, which serves groups large and small on its campus in the midst of Acadia National Park on the Schoodic Peninsula.
Food Service Manager Amy Reisman, a Michigan native who grew up in Massachusetts and has lived in the Acadia region for more than 30 years, was brought on board last November to change the focus of the menu in the Schooner Club.
“They were looking to make a change in the style of the dining room,” she said.
Reisman is no stranger to food. She has owned two cafes in Bar Harbor, including the popular Aperitivo, a 17-seat wine bar she operated for two years with her son, Matthew Frongillo.
Aperitivo is a before-or-after dinner drink often paired before dinner with a range of light snacks.
Reisman had traveled to Italy with friends and the owner of the former Bar Harbor landmark of fine dining George’s restaurant and never looked at food the same again.
“Everything was fresh and local,” she said. “The food was amazing.”
One of Reisman’s first changes at the Schoodic Institute has been to get away from deli meats and prepare sandwich meats from whole roasted turkeys and other “real food.”
“We’re not taking meat away,” she said. “We’re just trying to get it closer to its source.”
A recent soup and salad bar for 30 hungry guests at the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service three-day conference had to have something for everyone: meat eaters, vegetarians, gluten-free foods and dairy-free selections, among others.
Reisman’s staff — baker Sallie Dietz and cooks Deb Smith and Sarah Murphy — prepared chicken rice soup (dairy free); corn chowder; roasted red pepper and cauliflower soup.
The sandwich or salad topping options included chicken, egg and tuna salad along with meatloaf and hummus.
“This way people can go through and find something they can and want to eat,” Reisman said.
Having served as dining hall manager at College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Reisman is aware of the challenges in feeding whole, organic food to a large crowd.
COA has access to two farms, which she said greatly eases the problem of cost and availability.
Reisman will be speaking to local organic farmers about what they might provide. The kitchen also is growing its own herbs to be used in cooking and as garnishes.
Six years ago, she and husband Michael Reisman opened the Artemis Bed & Breakfast in Sorrento with a focus on fresh, home-grown produce and herbs for guests.
When she accepted the full-time position with the Schoodic Institute, the couple effectively shut down the bed and breakfast business, although they still live there and have chickens and grow vegetables for themselves.
Another close encounter that Reisman has had with whole food was the greenhouse at Sumner Memorial High School.
Reisman worked with Diane Nichols when the greenhouse was first established and then kept it going after Nichols retired.
Reisman said the bar she has set for the dining room at the Schoodic Institute is something along the lines of the quality of food prepared at College of the Atlantic.
“COA’s cafeteria was great,” Reisman said. “I hope they say that about the Schoodic Institute cafeteria.”