Thu 12/6 @ 6:30PM
Fri 12/21 @ 6PM
’Tis the season for slowing down to share in a meal or activity and spending quality time with friends and family. We sat down with founder, chef and creative director Kelly Hanley-Potts (KHP) of Cleveland Field Kitchen (CFK) to talk about the evolution of her business, the importance of slow living and the two fabulous events she has coming up this harvest and holiday season: Modern Wreath Workshop with FOUNT Leather Goods (Thu 12/6 @ 6:30-9pm, $75 per person) and NOMAD Solstice Dinner (Fri 12/21 @ 6-10pm, $110 per person).
CC: Let’s start with the name. Tell us the significance behind your business name, Cleveland Field Kitchen.
KHP: The name is meaningful in two ways. The first way is cooking food that comes from the field, fresh local ingredients. The second entendre is that we operate as a remote kitchen. Often times, Cleveland Field Kitchen is cooking in a field or some remote place, where the team sets up and creates their kitchen right on the spot. I think it helps give people a visual of what we do.
CC: How has Cleveland Field Kitchen evolved since its founding in 2015?
KHP: It’s been quite an evolution from the initial vision. We began a mobile cooking school with the name the Agrarian Collective in 2012. The idea was born out of my couple years at farmers markets and gardening. It was an attempt to farm on a small scale. When at the farmers market, I’d be talking with customers and I realized how little people actually knew about cooking, yet the curiosity and willingness to learn was there. As a small start-up, I learned so much along the way, changing the name, because no one could quite say the name correctly, and rebranding by giving people a better vision of what we represent. The Field Kitchen is a boutique catering and event company. We still offer cooking classes and workshops, both publicly and privately, and also offer full catering services.
CC: I understand your principles and philosophies of slow living, connecting more to our food source and learning to be a maker. How do you think we could all benefit if we applied these same fundamental ideas to our home, individual and family lives?
KHP: In the fast-paced social media-driven times that we are in, I think we all spend too much thinking about all that we “could” do and not actually doing anything — if that makes sense. How many Pinterest boards have you made in relationship to how many things you’ve actually made? Taking the time to bake a pie with your kids from scratch, go apple picking, planting a small kitchen garden, these small things give more meaning to your everyday. I can recall when I was first writing my business plan, a friend and mentor told me the most difficult task I will have in starting the company is getting people to give me their time. It was the best advice I recieved. I think if more people realized that it does not take so much “time” to cook or bake or make something and that “time” they spend will be valuable to them — more so then the 45 minutes they spent on Instagram or something similar. It’s really about changing out mind set.
CC: Tell us about the Modern Wreath Workshop with FOUNT Leather Goods on December 6.
KHP: My background is in art and sculpture, so wreath-making and floral design is natural for me —much like building a presentation on a plate. This is an opportunity to be creative with others in a way I don’t get to very often and I love it. I think that everyone who joins us will love it too! This year we have a clear design and direction we hope to lead the students. We are excited that we are using dried flowers from Harvest Bell as part of the materials to build each wreath. I love that we are using local foraged materials. And it’s our third year doing this workshop. I’m hoping to keep that tradition going with our friends at FOUNT. It’s a great pairing.
Class fee includes spirit drinks & hors d’oeuvres, and materials to make one wreath. Additional materials can be purchased to make multiple adornments. Doors open at 6:30pm and the class begins at 7pm. (Parking in the large lot at the rear of the building and a lot across the street or street parking. Look for signs to direct you to the back of the building to access the elevator.)
CC: How did your partnership with FOUNT come about?
KHP: The Flea! Jackie and Philip were there in the beginning, as was I. We have supported each other as we have grown. It’s really become a fun tradition.
CC: You were an early vendor at the Cleveland Flea. How has this become a staple event for you?
KHP: The Flea has been an amazing experience. Feeling the vibrancy that is Cleveland at the Flea is energizing. It has given me the opportunity to grow slow and steady. The opportunity to test and market ideas, and of course, become friends with some dynamic business owners in the region. I really like being part of the community it has become.
CC: How many workshops, events and dinners do you do per year?
KHP: Each year it varies, yet we typically offer about five workshops and seven dinners. We’ve hosted one retreat and hope to bring our clients more of those in the coming years.
CC: What’s the vision with the retreats?
KHP: The vision with the retreat is to help facilitate our attendees’ ability to apply the slowing living principles into their everyday lifestyle. It’s about slowing down, building a life of meaning. Each retreat is centered on the garden, kitchen, pantry and table, so the possiblities of learning seem rather endless.
CC: How do you create the NOMAD Solstice Dinner each year? What are you most excited about for this year’s dinner (12/21), and when will the location be announced?
KHP: The very first pop-up dinner we did was for the Winter Solstice so it had come to be something of an anniversary for us. I love all the magic that winter brings, candlelight, warm textures, earthy food profiles, comfoprt food, warm fires. We try to bring that winter magic to the dinner. This year is going to be more intimate than past years, which allows us to be more creative with the menu and design. We will announce the location to our guests a couple days prior to the dinner. The mystery of location helps create the excitement…and the location is pure winter magic, I can assure you.
As the longest night of the year, the winter solstice forces us to slow down and embrace the warmth of the winter season. It is a time to gather up your friends and family and share an evening filled with candlelight and good food around the table. Celebrate the yule with a five-course meal featuring local, seasonal ingredients and accompanied by a selection of beautiful wines paired with each course. Guests will only know the general location of this special dinner when they purchase tickets, with the exact location being shared just a day prior to the dinner. Wonder where we will share our supper? We guarantee the space to be magical, designed to inspire us all on this special day of the year. (This is an intimate gathering and seating is limited.)
CC: What do you want Cleveland Field Kitchen to be known for?
KHP: An experience that is cherished. Amazing service, excellent food and kindness.
CC: Why is your work at CFK important, and what do you like most about it?
KHP: For the pure love of cooking and bringing people together to share an experience. I believe the table is a place of kinship and unity, and believe breaking bread with others is the best way to begin a friendship or celebrate cherished ones.
CC: Where do you see CFK in 5 years?
KHP: I hope to continue to grow and bring my passion to others. The Field Kitchen has already grown so much from year one. I can only imagine what great things there are for greater Cleveland to experience. Maybe a storefront —we will see!
CC: Anything else you’d like to share?
KHP: Stay on the look out for our actual “Field Kitchen” this spring! We’ll be launching our Winnebago Food Truck in 2019. Be sure to sign up for our email list and be the first to know about our pop-up dinners and workshops.
[Written By: Kendall Embrescia-Hridel]