By Nikki Gardner
Good food takes time, particularly when crafting global cuisine with roots in slow food and local ingredients. That’s the mission of Great Falls Harvest, opened in 2013 by husband-wife team Chef Chris Menegoni and Bridgette Chaffee. Set in a former barroom on 3rd Street in Turners Falls, the restaurant showcases produce and products from area farmers and furnishings and decor by local artisans.
Chef Menegoni eschews recipes and small trendy plates of food, preferring a plate bursting with color, flavor, and texture. He taught himself to cook at age nine and by the time he was in high school, he envisioned opening a restaurant that offered a collection of cuisines. After cooking professionally for more than 20 years, he revamped that dream into the seasonally-inspired menu at Great Falls Harvest.
The dinner menu includes the chef’s signature farm and forage dish with roasted roots, kale, and bacon, accompanied by a choice of chicken, salmon, or tofu. He supplements the vegetables grown in his own garden with goods from local suppliers including Robariah Farm (Deerfield), 2nd Street Baking (Turners Falls), Dancing Bear Farm (Leyden), Upinngil Farm (Gill), and North Country Smokehouse (Claremont, NH).
Not only does Chef Menegoni think creatively about what’s on the menu, he’s also a forward thinker when it comes to ways to strengthen the local food economy. He plans to further support area food producers and the larger community by opening Great Falls Market (adjacent to the restaurant on Avenue A). It will be a marketplace designed to offer local edibles, herbal medicines, and handcrafted wares at affordable price points.