Watch as Ironbound Head Chef, Gunnar Bentley, shows Lidia how he cooks on the ‘mother fire’.
With a renewed focus on vocational training and working apprentices, artisans and the trades are making a comeback here in the United States. The Return of the Artisans looks at how this new generation of craftspeople is training today. From vocational high schools to apprenticeships to incubator programs, Lidia observes firsthand how young people are looking to artisanal crafts and small business as a fulfilling way to earn their livelihoods, and how many young craftsmen are bringing their skills back to their own communities.
“The beauty of these apprenticeships is not just the quality goods from using time-honored, hand-crafted methods, but the viable employment opportunities and a sense of community and belonging for the craftspeople who master the skills.” ~ Lidia Bastianich
- Benton’s Smoked Country Ham, Madisonville, Tennessee Allan Benton, of Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Hams, has spent 45 years mastering the art of curing meat and making traditional country ham. Continue
- Ramiro Herrera Barrel Making, Napa Valley, California Only a few dozen master coopers still practice around the world, and Ramiro Herrera, of Caldwell Vineyard, is one of the remaining few.Continue
- Comal Heritage Food Incubator, Denver, Colorado At the Comal Heritage Food Incubator, budding chefs can take their family recipes and elevate them for public consumption through a restaurant and catering business.Continue
- American Spoon Jam, Petoskey, MI Founded by Chef Larry Forgione and foraging expert Justin Rashid, it resembles “Willie Wonka’s” jam line—using small copper kettles and wooden paddles and locally sourced ingredients from over 100 area family farms.Continue
- Sara Dahmen, House Copper in Grafton Village, Wisconsin Sara, one of the only female coppersmiths in the world creates cooking utensils and pots using tools from the 1700’s and 1800’s.Continue
The Return of the Artisans culminates with Lidia hosting a special celebration meal to give back to the artisans who’ve generously opened their lives to her. The dinner is held at Ironbound Farm in New Jersey, home of Ironbound Hard Cider, which creates meaningful, skilled jobs for the chronically underemployed by training them to be farmers and educators, and which works to cultivate an interconnected community of local food artisans at the farm.
Lidia’s menu includes some of her own dishes and highlights the artisanal products and dishes inspired by her travels and experiences across the country—including foraged mushrooms, green beans with mint pesto, polenta, roasted beet salad, short ribs and country ham, and fruit tart made from preserves.