Walking into farmer/chef Katrina Perzanowski Kohout’s Scratch Supper Club is like walking into Cheers. You know what I mean – the kind of place where everybody knows your name. I had the pleasure of checking out her new farm-to-table supper experience last Thursday night in Kent. I left feeling full, and very grateful, for the evening.
First thing to know – Katrina is a really good cook. Her Scratch Farm to Table Supper included no less than 12 menu items. Each one tastier than the last. She shared with me that preparing for dinner took no less than 12 hours, with another four hours of clean up, including a pretty daunting pile of real dishes. No paper or plastic here!
I hadn’t helped myself a full plate like this in a while; probably since Thanksgiving! Though hard to settle on any favorites, I was enamored with her homemade chicken and rice soup, the spinach and egg salad (with a sweet and sour bacon dressing), the balsamic-glazed carrots, and the succulent lemon herb chicken, which was from Aden Troyer’s Pleasant Valley Poultry. I was thrilled to find out that the greens were from Breezy Hill Farm, the potatoes from Ramseyer Farms, and the butter, cheese and eggs from Ohio dairies. She took care to offer plenty for vegetarians and gluten-free eaters as well. The desserts were heavenly. My favorite? Hands down, it was the caramel apple brandy cheesecake.
Before long, every seat in the place was taken. Everyone was friendly and familiar with each other. We chose our seat, grabbed a plate and bowl and served ourselves. Bread baskets (slices of Bonny’s Bread, another Kent favorite) were passed, conversation shared, children amused and tended, and everyone cleared their plates and left their spot neat enough for the next guest. There was a respectful civility to the whole thing, like a Sunday supper with family you only see once or twice a year.
Katrina’s fans love her. She has fostered a passionate and loyal following as a result of her weekly appearance at the Haymaker Farmers’ Market in Kent. She’s definitely stumbled onto something important and meaningful with this idea of bringing people together to eat wholesome, locally sourced food. It was hard to tell whether people were drawn more by the food on the table or the folks seated at the table with them. It was fun and enlightening to talk with people who take the time to know where their food comes from and who care so much about the people who grow and prepare it.
A dinner like this doesn’t happen overnight – or even in just 12 hours. Its beginning actually goes back seven years ago when Katrina and her husband John, an engineer, and their two daughters Madylin and Mary, started Salt of the Earth Farm in Atwater with a delivery of 26 peeps. That flock was later followed by the addition of a small herd of black hogs.
Small-scale farming fed Katrina’s entrepreneurial spirit, and allowed her to stay home and care for her young family. It also allowed her to get connected to a local food community to obtain the type of real, wholesome food she wanted to serve her kids. She sells her heritage breed, free-range meats and other products locally, and through her website.
When she is not tending to her flock of pigs, sheep, chickens and turkeys, Katrina loves to cook. And so cook she did! Gradually, she started selling prepared foods at the markets. Then she launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to purchase a food truck, and last summer was able to take her talents all over Portage County and to several weekly markets under the name Scratch: Free Range Food.
Never one to be satisfied, the quiet days of winter inspired Katrina’s next idea – a weekly supper club. Using her business acumen and the reach of social media, Katrina set up a website and hopped on Facebook to spread the word about her home-cooked supper club concept. The theme of this first dinner was “preservation.” Katrina explained that while eating local can be challenging here throughout the winter months, it’s not impossible. She takes several weeks in the summer to can, freeze and store her fruits and vegetables. Several of the foods we enjoyed, including the carrots, green beans and berries, were indeed locally grown, harvested last summer.
I was honored to be a part of the first Scratch Farm to Table Supper Club. I enjoyed a phenomenal meal, and met Katrina’s family and 60 of her closest friends who gathered to break bread and celebrate good food on a cold February night. It was fun and enlightening to talk with people who really make it a point to know where their food comes from, and who care so much about the people who grow and prepare it.
Want to catch the second Scratch Supper Club? It’s taking place Friday, March 21, from 6pm-9pm at Halliday’s Winery in Lake Milton. Katrina’s going to serve up a Lenten Friday feast featuring Lake Erie Perch and Walleye, her famous Mac n Four Cheeses, and plenty of hearty sides. Or, you can find Katrina Kohout and her Scratch Free Range Food Truck most Saturdays at the Haymaker Market. Who knows, you might even catch me in line with you.