Amy Cotler brings 3 decades as a culinary professional (AKA food fanatic) and farm to table advocate to her books and other offerings.
A longtime advocate of seasonal cooking and local eating, she is the founding director of Berkshire Grown, which became an early model for local farm and food advocacy. She consults, teaches and lectures nationally on food and farm to table issues.
Ms. Cotler worked as the web food forum host for The New York Times and her food articles have been published in periodicals, including Fine Cooking, Kitchen Garden, Cook’s and Orion. She has written 5 cookbooks, including Fresh from the Farm: The Massachusetts Farm to School Cookbook, a training tool for schools, which was distributed to every school Massachusetts and is now available free on-line.
Her new book, published in November 2009, brings together her culinary and local food advocacy experience. The Locavore Way, Discover and Enjoy the Pleasures of Locally Grown Foods is a people’s solution to The Omnivore’s Dilemma, a hands-on guide to seeking out and savoring local foods.
A veteran chef and cooking teacher, Ms. Cotler has taught home cooks and professionals at Institute for Culinary Education and Culinary Institute of America, where she also researched and wrote text for their professional cookbook. She has developed close to 1000 recipes, including many for the Joy of Cooking. Her media appearances include The Television Food Network and National Public Radio.
AUTHOR AND FOOD WRITER, 1996-present
Books: The Locavore Way, Discover the Pleasures of Fresh Locally Grown Food (Storey Publications, November 2009. A comprehensive guide to seeking out and savoring local food), Fresh from the Farm: The Farm to School Cookbook (MA Department of Education, 2007. Distributed to every district in MA and available free on-line. Supplement for educators.); The Secret Garden Cookbook (Harper Collins, 2000); Wrap it Up (3 Rivers Press,1998); One Pot Vegetarian Dishes (Harper Collins, 1996).
Blog: The Locavore Way, a weekly local food recipe blog with a touch of local food news and links. Contributing blogger, Rural Intelligence, Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York Newsletter and the Foodielink Newsletter.
Media:The New York Times on the Web, forum host, 4 food forums (8 years).
Periodicals: Fine Cooking, Kitchen Garden, Gastronomca, Self, Orion, Family Fun, The Berkshire Eagle, Urban Farmer.
Teaching Culinary Text: Joy of Cooking and The Culinary Institute of America’s Professional Chef Series. (I worked to contribute more multi-cultural and plant-based cooking information.)
Non Profit Writing on Food and Agriculture: Extensive grant writing and organizational literature and press releases for Berkshire Grown, a non-profit supporting food and farms (see below), as well as The Chefs Collaborative.
Cornell Sustainability Program, The Baum Forum on Food and Agriculture (3 years), Slow Food Boston and Western Massachusetts, Radcliff Culinary Historians, Just Food, School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts, International Association of Culinary Professionals, National Restaurant Association, Williams College environmental program, Berkshire Botanical Gardens, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts Teachers Training Program, The Culinary Institute of America, Institute of Culinary Education, New York Women’s Culinary Alliance, New York University and more. Also many local venues, such as libraries, town halls, bookstores, etc.
RECIPE DEVELOPER, 1998-present
Developed and tested close to 1000 recipes, most with head notes. Clients include Meredith Publications (Better Homes and Gardens), Scribner’s for Joy of Cooking (hundreds of recipes), as well as recipes for restaurants, magazines, farmers markets, CSAs and my blog.
FARM TO TABLE AND FARM TO SCHOOL CONSULTANT, 1993-present
Project and Program Consultant: The Chefs Collaborative’s year-long project to develop regional farm to restaurant and school networks in urban Ohio and rural Montana. Clients include: Community Initiative for Sustainable Agriculture, Finger Lakes Culinary Bounty, Regional Farm and Food Project, Dutchess County State Extension Agency, William Jordan Energy and Food Enterprises.
Farm to School Program Consultant and School Food Service Training, using Fresh From the Farm: The MA Farm to School Cookbook, which I funded and wrote. Get Fresh, Get Local Project, training food service staff at 9 schools to cook with farm fresh produce, as well as providing them with a context for doing so. Linked with local food procurement opportunities. Other clients include: MA Farm to School Project; Tufts University for The Balance Project at Falls River, MA School District; Project Sprout at Berkshire Hills Regional School District in MA (school garden to food service); Concord, Massachusetts school system: developing a 2 year “get-healthy” food plan.
Event Initiator/Coordinator, Yearly Northeast conference on local farm and food initiatives (2 years), Berkshire Grown harvest extravaganza (4 years), Chefs Collaborative educational events and numerous education and fundraising events, large and small.
COOKING TEACHER AND FOOD WRITING TEACHER, 1989-present
Institute for Culinary Education (ICE) in Manhattan: designed and taught a wide variety of classes, including farmers market, ingredient-oriented, topical and international cooking classes for home cooks and professionals. Created first health-oriented cooking curriculum for professionals. Culinary Institute of America (CIA) in Hyde Park, NY: writing for chefs, a class for matriculating students. New York Restaurant School (NYRS) in Manhattan, designed and taught Locavore Way classes using local foods as well as professional catering class. Classes in my home kitchen and at Hawthorne Valley Farm in Ghent, New York.
CULINARY COACH, 2004-present
Working with individuals and families over an agreed upon time frame to develop a tasty, healthy and realistic diet. Sessions focus empowering clients to adapt and improvise recipes using seasonal foods and simple techniques. Consulting in person or via phone and email.
MENU CONSULTANT, 2005-present
Resort and restaurant menu work, sourcing farm-fresh foods from local farms, creating seasonally sensitive menus. Lenox Athenaeum, Mepal Resort. (School menu consulting in farm to school work.)
BERKSHIRE GROWN (FOUNDING) DIRECTOR, 1997-2004
Initiated, directed and funded Berkshire Grown, in Massachusetts, a non-profit local farm and food advocacy organization, built on the shoulders of a local innovative agricultural leaders, including Robyn Van Eyn, founder of the North American CSA movement. Berkshire Grown continues to bring local food to the front burner in the region through programs connecting farmers and community members. One of its programs, Share the Bounty, collects donations to fund CSA shares for food pantries. Lobbied for MA budget earmark. Work included extensive community and media outreach and education. Winner of Glynnwood Award, highlighted in periodicals, including Slow Food International.
MEDIA APPEARANCES, 1998 to present
Guest: Television Food Network. Radio Commentary, Guest and Panelist, Local (WAMC) and National Public Radio (syndicated). Numerous radio appearances listed on website.
CATERING, EXECUTIVE DINING ROOM CHEF, 1983-1993
Cotler Catering was my Manhattan firm, specializing in farm-fresh foods and large corporate and private events. Executive dining room chef for several corporate clients, both full and part time.
Radcliffe Seminars, assorted food history classes; American Women’s’ Economic Development, Business Development Course; The New York Restaurant School, Intensive Professional Culinary Arts Program; New York University, B.A. in Art Communications.