River Tavern: "Dinners at the Farm" Chef Cooks Farm-to-Table in Chester CT

Elise Maclay

Farm-to-table fruits and vegetables, sustainable seafood and humanely raised, hormone-free meat and poultry, once the concern of a few, is now passionately espoused by enough of the general public to constitute  a green revolution in restaurant dining.

Like most revolutions, there is legend and lore and even a bit of romance about it, which brings us to a small, quaint town on the Connecticut River, where Jonathan Rapp, chef-owner of River Tavern, fired one of the first salvos in the save-Connecticut-farms foray.

He did it with Yankee ingenuity, help from likeminded neighbors and friends and considerable get-up-and-go. He simply loaded a kitchen stove onto his bright red 1955 Ford F600 flatbed truck, parked in a cornfield and cooked a delicious locally grown meal for guests at a fund-raising, consciousness-raising dinner to support local agriculture. The event sparked “Dinners At The Farm,” the popular summertime series of benefit dinners involving more and more farms and getting better each year.

But eating is believing and I hadn’t dined at River Tavern itself for years—which explains the fact that on a recent Tuesday evening I was strolling down Chester’s main street to sample what Jonathan Rapp and his team are up to.