Local Hero Profile: The Gill Tavern
Laura Carboni’s passion for food began early—food was a focus of her family growing up, and she worked in the front of the house at many restaurants from a young age. She was involved in The Gill Tavern from the time it first opened in 2008, and eventually the original owner encouraged Laura and her husband Chris Pietras to take over the restaurant in 2013.
Chefs Walker Widner and Brendan Walker are responsible for the artistically crafted menu—filled with local ingredients, including those from the restaurant’s very own farm. “We wouldn’t do it any other way,” says Chris. Buying locally and seasonally requires a deep commitment to working with what’s available. This sometimes defies cultural norms, since people are used to having certain foods all year. But Chef Walker relishes “the old world mentality of utilizing everything,” an approach which brings its own rewards.
What’s your favorite part of your job?
Laura: “Loving people up with food and giving people a whole experience.”
Chris: “Nurturing a plant and handing it to a chef to make magic with.”
Walker: “People have always gathered around food. It’s where people come together, celebrate, create memories, and remember the dish they had. That’s the best part.”
On buying local:
“We pay homage to the farmers through what we cook. We are working towards a healthier and more robust agricultural economy. Hopefully the taste will lead to this goal that we all share.”
Did you know?
“A lot of the local farmers we source from eat here. They are our customers.”
The Gill Tavern supports the local food economy
Farmer: Chris Pietras, Co-owner of The Gill Tavern
Story: Chris is responsible for growing much of the produce used on The Gill Tavern’s menu. Building soil health is a priority for him—he believes that healthy soil is the key to quality, creating the basis for nourishing and flavorful produce. Chris enjoys watching his seedlings “burst from the soil, with all the hope and possibility this represents, and then handing the food over and getting great feedback from the chef.” Chef Walker, in turn, can attest to the high quality of the greens Chris grows, which are rich in flavor and “have so much life force in them,” he says. Chris’s favorite crops to grow are asparagus, strawberries, corn, and the first tomatoes of the season. He loves the seed-to-plate experience of growing for The Gill Tavern and “wouldn’t do it any other way.”