Tag Archives: Sarah Gross

Sarah Gross Spreads The Organic Garden Gospel

Westporters know Sarah Gross as the owner of Cabbages & Kings Catering. For over 30 years, the 1970 Staples High School graduate has won hearts (and stomachs) throughout the tri-state area with delicious (and healthy) food.

Two years ago she introduced C&K Community Kitchen. The collaborative community incubator offers affordable, certified, organic, non-GMO commercial kitchen space, rented in 8-hour shifts. 

Sarah has always known the importance of “organic.” But as she studied where her food (and ours) comes from, she realized that’s not enough. “We need to feed our soil, in order to create bionutrient rich food using sustainable regenerative practices,” she says.

She looked around for someone to help transform her own land into a bionutrient organic food forest. “I believe we were sold a bill of goods with the promotion of pristine green lawns,” she says. “The possibility of ending world hunger is sitting right in front of us.”

Through the Westchester chapter of the Bionutrient Food Asssociation, Sarah enlarged her garden, built up her soil, and is adding fruit trees and berry bushes. She’ll feed her family, and donate the rest of her bounty to friends, neighbors, food pantries and other organizations serving people who lack access to fresh fruits and vegetables.

Sarah Gross’ garden.

She is open to sharing her garden with a restaurant or caterer needing land for nutrient-rich organic farming.

The soil in the no-till garden is fed with premium compost from a local purveyor. Worms were added to do their thing, and a drip system installed. It is covered in organic hay mulch, to build the soil for next season. It will be farmed bionutriently.

A pollinator garden on the side will be full of flowers, for bees.

A deer fence and log walls surround the property, to protect the gardens, trees and bushes.

Some of the bounty of Sarah Gross’ garden.

Meanwhile, she is speaking out against the use of harmful practices.

Sarah says that Roundup — banned in California, Canada and Europe — is “evil.” Yet, she notes, plants sold at Home Depot, Walmart and local landscape businesses are riddled with the weed killer.

As Sarah sees the decline of monarch butterflies — victims of Roundup, she says, and notices fewer hummingbirds, she makes a connection.

“With every choice we make, we are voting for thriving or our own demise.” That’s especially true, Sarah says, with food choices. It applies to restaurants as well as home gardeners.

Sarah has partnered with Vic Ziminsky of Let It Grow Landscapes and local master gardener Laura Stabell to offer organic gardening services. They plant and maintain food gardens for clients, encouraging others to make the most of their lawns by growing food that feeds themselves, wildlife and a less fortunate population.

Sarah Gross, Laura Stabel and Vic Ziminsky, in one of their gardens.

In addition, Sarah told the first selectman’s office about organic landscaping classes August 13-16 in New Haven, and November 12-15 in East Hartford. (Click here for information.) The classes are heavily discounted for Connecticut landscapers. She hopes local companies will take advantage of the opportunity — and homeowners too.

“Our choices about how we tend to our property — what we spray on our trees and put on our lawns — affect not only our own land, but the atmosphere and water aquifers of all those around us,” Sarah says.

“Now we have the opportunity to make viable different choices — individually, and as a community.”

Cabbages And Kings: Talking Of A Community Kitchen

Back in the day, Martha Stewart’s kitchens — the small one on Saugatuck Avenue, then the glamorous, made-for-TV Newtown Turnpike space — put Westport on the culinary map.

A new kitchen concept may soon get us back there. And it’s got a Martha connection.

C&K Community Kitchen is a collaborative, community incubator kitchen. Launched through Cabbages & Kings Catering — Sarah Gross’ renowned business — it supports the use of organic, non-GMO, locally sourced products and services.

It nurtures anyone inspired by that movement by offering affordable, certified commercial kitchen space, rented in 8-hour shifts.

And it’s available 24/7/365.

Sarah Gross logoA core of folks are already excited by Gross’ venture: an organic frozen soup maker, a gluten-free baker, a maker of potato omelets who is creating a frozen version to bring to market, a cooking teacher, and a local food retailer needing a kitchen to create more substantial offerings for its stores.

Others who have contacted Gross about using the kitchen include a how-to-cook filmmaker, a farmer considering new products, 2 people hoping to create a meal delivery service, jam and canned good makers, a chef who wants to make his very popular grilling sauce organic, and an organic bone broth maker who would like to offer his healthy option to the world.

“We’re open to any and all inquiries,” Gross says.

Sarah Gross and Martha Stewart, back in the day.

Sarah Gross and Martha Stewart, back in the day.

Gross is well known to everyone here who eats. A Westport native and Staples class of 1970 graduate trained as a fine arts painter (with a master’s in psychology), her mother’s kitchen and dining room were often filled with great artists, poets, authors and editors.

After college, she answered an ad for a new retail establishment: The Market Basket. It was Martha Stewart’s 1st venture.

Gross’ talents evolved. She eventually managed Stewart’s catering business.

The idea for C&K Community Kitchen dates back to those early Market Basket days. In addition to Gross, Stewart hired locals like Dale Lamberty (who went on to found Great Cakes) and Audrey Doniger (who launched her famous lemon bars there).

Sarah Gross with a very satisfied President Obama.

Sarah Gross with a very satisfied President Obama.

Gross herself made desserts after hours in the prep kitchen, for Soup’s On. When owner Sue Fine moved, she offered Gross her Saugatuck Avenue space.

Cabbages & Kings Catering grew quickly. Gross has served fabulous food and managed events all over Connecticut and New York. Bill Clinton and Barack Obama are among the many diners who have enjoyed her meals.

Yet after more than 40 years in the industry, Gross realized what needed to change.

“The more aware I became of the pollution of the mainstream food system, the more difficult it became for me to service my clients with the quality I was known for, without totally revamping how I work,” she says.

She closed her Saugatuck Avenue kitchen, but kept her facility nearby. She could not give up her beloved 3-bay refrigerator and freezer, stove and sinks.

Sarah Gross, in her C&K Kitchen.

Sarah Gross, in her C&K Kitchen.

Though she wanted to support what she knew to be “good and true” in relation to food, Gross also realized that with today’s extensive rules and regulations, she could not have started out today the way she did in the 1970s.

So she’s keeping her kitchen alive, in a 21st-century form: a collaborative community incubator kitchen.

She’s giving anyone who cannot afford a certified kitchen the legal space to produce organic, non-GMO, locally sourced, regenerative food — and get it into the marketplace, for others to enjoy.

“I want everyone to experience, accelerate and champion the kind of world I want to be a part of, and share,” Gross says.

Bon appétit!

(To learn more about the community kitchen, call 203-226-0531. She offers a 10% monthly discount to the first 6 applicants who meet the required criteria, and commit to 1 or more shifts weekly for 6 months.)

Lunch Box Soon To Be Empty

Sure, this is “06880.” But occasionally we wander up to 06883. Westport and Weston are pretty closely connected — especially at a place like the Lunch Box, in Weston Center.

But after today, that connection will end.

Alert reader Sarah Gross says this is the last day of the popular restaurant. It closes tomorrow, for 5 weeks.

Then a new owner takes over — and turns it into a new place. No one knows if the employees — many of whom worked there since colonial times (just kidding) (sort of) — will have jobs when it reopens, as something new.

Sarah is one of its many heartbroken customers. She just brought the devastated crew daffodils from her garden.

That brought a few smiles. Otherwise, today’s mood at the Lunch Box is as gloomy as the weather.

The Lunch Box.

The Lunch Box.