From Farm to Pizza in the Hudson Valley

Rafi Bildner with one of his farm-bred pizzas

(KINDERHOOK, N.Y.) – Columbia County’s organic Katchkie Farm will become one of New York’s only “pizza farms” courtesy of Neapolitan-style pie master Rafi Bildner, who will be in residence with a pop-up of his Hilltown Hot Pies on the 60-acre farm every weekend, Thursday-Sunday, beginning on Thursday July 23, 2020, and running through September 20, 2020.

Bildner, a professional pizza chef based in the Berkshires, will sling artisan sourdough pizzas, showcasing the bounty of Kachkie’s fields just a few feet away, out of the farm’s wood-fired oven that will be Bildner’s domain. The 12-inch hyperlocal farm-fresh ingredients-driven pizzas will be available for takeout, and a portion of the sale of each pie will be donated to The Sylvia Center, the nonprofit dedicated to teaching nutrition and healthy cooking to children and their families in under-resourced communities in Columbia County and New York City, which maintains its Learning Garden at Katchkie Farm.

Working farms offering pizzas made on-site utilizing ingredients from their fields in wood-fired ovens are popular in the Midwest, particularly in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Bildner’s Hilltown Hot Pies focuses on the art and craft of sourdough pizza, using pizza as a medium for sharing the bounty of the local foodshed, connecting people to the landscape around them, and creating community. The pizzas are Neapolitan-inspired with a soft chewy crust enhanced by a thin layer of crispness, with some char or “leoparding,” characteristic of the Neapolitan style.

Bildner employs sourdough fermentation techniques, which harness the power of wild yeast to fashion a complex crust that is light and airy, flavorful, and easy to digest. He uses local flours and grains whenever possible along with seasonal produce to highlight the local agricultural landscape. Bildner has taken his portable pizza-making to pop-ups and events all over the country, from the sandy beaches of Northern California to the hills of the Berkshires, where he was in residence with a pop-up last summer at the renowned Dream Away Lodge in Becket, Mass.

 

For Hilltown Hot Pies at Katchkie Farm, Bildner will utilize the yield from the vegetable fields just steps away from the oven to present pizzas such as:

  • Hudson Valley Summer sweet corn, cherry tomatoes and fresh mozzarella;
  • The Beetza basil pesto, roasted beets, sweet caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella, chevre;
  • Field & Forest plum tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella, roasted mushrooms, pickled onion and soppressata;
  • Garlic Goat green garlic sauce, zucchini, chevre, fresh mozzarella, toasted pine nuts, chili flakes.

 

Vegan pies will be offered each week, changing along with the Katchkie harvest. Priced from $14 to $17, any pie can be customized without meat or cheese and pepperoni, prosciutto and soppressata can be added for $1 each. In addition to the pizza offerings, a “farm box” will be offered for pre-order for $20, which will include an assortment of Katchkie organic produce, highlighting that week’s harvest.

 

These singular farm-rooted pizzas must be ordered and paid for in advance online to assure a safe pick-up environment. Pizzas from Hilltown Hot Pies at Katchkie Farm can be ordered via Hilltown Hot Pies at Katchkie Farm for pick-up Thursday through Sunday from 4 to 8 p.m. beginning July 23 at the outdoor Pizza Pavilion on Katchkie Farm, 745 Fischer Road Extension, in Kinderhook.

In addition to takeout, there will be limited physically distanced picnic spots available overlooking Katchie’s verdant rolling fields and picturesque pond and woodlands. Mineral waters, flavored ice teas and sparkling lemonade will be available for purchase on-line.

 

 

About The Sylvia Center:  Founded in 2007 to address to address diet related disease issues within overlooked communities, The Sylvia Center educates young people about the connection between food and health, empowering them to lead healthier lives. Always focused on community impact, The Sylvia Center strategically partners with community-based organizations, schools, religious organizations, and local businesses, which share its values in order to deliver programming in all five boroughs of New York City, and Columbia County in upstate New York. The education team is composed of trained chefs, Registered Dietitians, nutrition educators, sanitization experts and educational professionals.

 

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