Stephen Verrill '57; Amy Riolo '95
Stephen Verrill '57
When Stephen Verrill took over Verrill Farm from his father in 1957, it was a small-scale dairy operation with just two employees. When his daughter Jennifer takes over in a few years, she will inherit more than 200 acres of protected farmland with fields of tomatoes, parsnips, corn, peppers, beets, radishes, and other vegetables that are worked by more than sixty employees during the growing season. The Concord, Massachusetts, farm supplies more than two dozen Boston-area restaurants with produce and is renowned for its bakery, which produces the farm's signature item—pies—as well as muffins, scones, and cookies. "We work hard to have good items that people will feel are better than they will get anywhere else," Verrill says.
When a fire razed the family's farm stand in September 2008 and destroyed its 1,500-square-foot kitchen, the Verrills still managed to prepare the 2,000 pies that customers had ordered for the holidays. Through a series of donations, including a portable kitchen from Maryland, the bakery has continued operation while a more efficient kitchen is being built. Patrons have donated money and time to the rebuilding process and Verrill hopes that the new kitchen and farm stand will be completed by the first anniversary of the fire. "We were overwhelmed with the support we got from our neighbors, customers, and other farmers," Verrill says. "Everyone did everything they could to help out. It was a very uplifting experience."
— Zak Failla
The Joy of (Exotic) Cooking
Amy Riolo '95
Headlines about the Middle East often paint a dire picture. But food historian and author Amy Riolo looks beyond the front page and sees the region for its unique culture and cuisine. Her book Arabian Delights: Recipes and Princely Entertaining Ideas from the Arabian Peninsula—published in 2007 and named one of "Sixteen Volumes Worth Staining" by the Washington Post—celebrates the region's rich culinary traditions.
An expert on Italian and Mediterranean cooking, Riolo knew little about Arab cuisine when she began writing the book. During a three-week stay in Saudi Arabia, she studied the local fare and collected recipes from palace chefs, street vendors, and restaurant owners. In her research, she found that the region's eclectic flavors resemble those of Lebanese and Indian cooking. One of the most popular dishes, she says, is Kabsah, a skillet heaped with rice topped with vegetables, flash-roasted meat, and a host of spices. "It's the forerunner to Spanish paella and the epitome of Saudi cuisine," says Riolo. "Every country has its own version, but the Arabian original is especially tasty."
A fiber science and apparel design major at Cornell, Riolo began working at a design office in Washington, D.C., after graduation—until it closed its doors. Between jobs, she spent time in her family's native Italy, where she met her Egyptian husband. In her travels to his homeland, Riolo quickly fell in love with Middle Eastern cuisine and decided to embark on a new career. "Egypt is like home to me," says Riolo. "I do what I can to make people more aware of what this land has to offer the world."
The Maryland-based Riolo has also authored Nile Style, published in March 2009, about the relationship between Egyptian cooking and ancient festivals. (Her next work, The Mediterranean Diabetes Cookbook, will showcase the health benefits of the region's diet.) "There is a great history of creation and culture in the Middle East that's waiting to be told," says Riolo. "Their food is such a testament to that. What I can do is help portray that culture through its cuisine. "
— Brian Hotchkiss