During its 20-plus year history Woodstock Farmers’ Market’s (WFM) success has rested on sure and steady growth. What began as a seasonal farmstand has morphed into an integral local favorite food mecca as well as a nationally recognized year round specialty food market. Through the years there remained a missing link – the bakery department. Now thanks to some key culinary professionals the sweet smell of success prevails throughout the market.
“Our popular bakery department makes us totally unique in the Upper Valley area,” explained Executive Chef Lisa Battilana. “We make all of our baked goods in-house according to our standards and to our customers expectations of quality and service. Our bakery department makes everything from fine European pastries to traditional peach, apple and blueberry cobblers made with local seasonal fruits.”
Bakers Tom Early & Dyan Hoehl; Fruit Tart
Growth in the bakery department was intentionally gradual with the majority of baked goods brought in from outside vendors. Then Tom Early - former owner of Morning Star Bakery, Cavendish, and a former baked goods vendors who had supplied WFM – arrived as a new pastry chef. Soon after Early’s arrival sales of the bakery department catapulted to a new high. Early, an Irish native graduated from culinary arts program at Maynooth University, Dublin. He trained as a chef in many prestigious international kitchens around the globe. While working as a chef in a Bermuda hotel Early met his Vermont wife. Through his years as a chef, Early formed an interest in pastry. He then enrolled in Albert Kumin’s International Pastry Arts Center to concentrate on pastries and breads and moved to Vermont where he worked at as a chef at several establishments until he owned his own bakery in Cavendish.
Early has brought a European sensibility to the bakery department at WFM working with only top-of-line ingredients including Valrona and El rey chocolate, Vermont butter and Thomas dairy products and fresh local seasonal fruits. His fine pastries include the ever-popular French style Grand Marnier Truffle Mousse Cake, Fruit Tarts and all the pre-ordered decorated cakes.
“Woodstock Farmers’ Market has an excellent reputation,” said Early. “My goal is to keep my pastry line fresh with new products in addition to favorites. We are now expanding our gluten-free baked goods to keep up with the current demand.”
Complementing Early’s fine pastry cooking is Dyan Hoehl’s recent arrival to WFM’s bakery department with her concentration in traditional New England baked goods using seasonal fruits and the same top ingredients that Early prefers. Soon after her arrival one of the hottest bakery products was the humble country biscuit. It will be available soon for home cooks who desire the simply goodness of a flakey biscuit - but lack the time to prepare it themselves – to serve with one of Vermont’s early summer favorites, Strawberry Shortcake made with local berries and fresh whipped cream.
“My biggest challenge is keeping up with the changing seasons,” explained Hoehl, who grew up nearby in Hartford and graduated from Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. “We always have our popular cookies in the bakery case but we change our desserts according to what is available seasonally such as our fruit tarts and cobblers.”
Among the many challenges that are common within an independent specialty food market is collaborative marketing throughout all the departments, which creates a cohesiveness and harmony throughout all departments. This is an area where Hoehl, according to co-founder Patrick Crowl, excels.
The Crowl family purchased the seasonal market in 1992 and current owner Patrick took over a year later with a mission to create a fun, casual shopping experience with superior products and service year round. Throughout its history, and before it became a national trend, WFM prioritized sourcing as one of its major goals. Knowing the sources of the foods on its shelves and passing that information onto its customers has always been a top priority.
This has led to local popularity and national recognition including being named “Outstanding Retailer” by the Specialty Food Association in 2009 and several inclusions in esteemed publications including recent shout-out in Martha Stewart Living, Boston Globe and Huffington Post.
“Today it is paramount to consumers to know where their food comes from,” explained Crowl. “That has always been our mission. We personally know most of the producers from near and far, how they produce and what methods they use. The bakery department continues to fulfill our mission.”
Woodstock Farmers’ Market is open Tuesday-Saturday 7:30 am – 7 pm & Sunday 8 am – 6 pm. It is typically closed Mondays, but some holiday weekends it remains open.
Woodstock, Vermont (May 2015) – WFM