Local Hero Profile: Ashfield Lake House
By Emma Gwyther, CISA Development Associate
Published in CISA’s August 2020 E-Newsletter – Sign Up Here!
“The heart of this Valley, to me, is the farms,” said Dre Rawlings, co-owner and chef at the Ashfield Lake House. “The reason my husband and I decided to move here and start our family here was because of the abundance of the farms in the area. We wanted to be able to help nurture and grow that sense of connection and community through our love for food.”
Dre and Chris Rawlings have owned and operated the Ashfield Lake House since 2015. Prior to the Rawling’s ownership, the Ashfield Lake House was known as the local beer and burger place. Dre and Chris decided to run with the image that the Lake House was known for, but with their own spin on things. “Since we source as many ingredients as we can locally, the menu really varies each week to reflect what is happening on farms, and what is available,” Rawlings explains. The Ashfield Lake House now offers many vegetarian meals, recently becoming known for their smoked tofu and chicken-fried tofu sandwiches.
Not unlike most restaurants throughout the state, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the Ashfield Lake House to make major changes and reinvent aspects of their business. The silver lining of this crisis, Rawlings explains, is the ability to focus on making the food that she loves to cook. “Making the specials often used to get placed on the backburner, when there was a dining room full of customers, and other aspects of running a business pulling for my attention,” Dre explains, “but now, it is how the Ashfield Lake House has both managed to stay viable throughout these challenging times, and continues connecting with the community we love.”
Dre explains that she starts making the menu on Sunday evening after work, based on local products that are available and that she is inspired to work with. True to what the Ashfield Lake House has always served, these specials are casual and accessible, while still being very well made. Specials each week may include items such as the tofu sandwiches, salmon cakes, and chicken picnic plates served with local greens, potato salad, and melon.
Dre sources her ingredients from a variety of local farms throughout the region including Good Bunch Farm in Shelburne Falls, Hart Farm in Conway, Kitchen Garden Farm and Riverland Farm in Sunderland, Next Barn Over in Hadley, and Queens Greens in Amherst. The Ashfield Lake House also uses Myer’s Produce, a wholesale company, that helps them to source local produce.
Having both attended Rhode Island School of Design, Chris and Dre come from a background in design. This attention to detail, and artistry, has transferred to the meals that they serve and the atmosphere they have created at the Ashfield Lake House. “It has been rewarding for us to become known as an inviting and nice place to be, suitable for anything from getting dinner with friends to catering for small wedding parties,” Dre says.
The Rawling’s are excited to hopefully open their doors to the public, and invite folks into their beautiful restaurant in the spring once it is safe to do so. For now, the Ashfield Lake House is offering takeout on the weekends. If you are interested, please place your order one day in advance at https://theashfieldlakehousetogo.com.