For Jeanette Warne, fresh local foods can make all the difference when it comes to cooking and flavorful, healthy eating.
That’s why in 2012 the Ellicott City resident founded her eco-savvy catering company, Homeshed Kitchens, on food grown in and around Howard County.
“My whole push for local ingredients has to do with control and seasonality,” Warne says. “We design our menu around what’s coming in.”
Most of the food Warne and her chef assistant, Robin Grasso, use comes from Grasso’s personal garden in Mount Airy. One week that could mean raspberries and blueberries. The next it could be summer squash and tomatoes.
Warne and Grasso also mill their own flour and make all of the company’s sweet cream and pasta dough from scratch.
“My vision was to source ingredients from even closer than a local farm,” Warne says. “My goal was to start sourcing from home … to begin in my backyard.”
The company’s name reflects that goal, she says.
“I coined the word ‘homeshed’ as a play on the word ‘foodshed,’” Warne says. A foodshed is the geographical area between where food is produced and consumed. A local foodshed is often defined as one where food is consumed within 100 miles of where it is produced.
If Warne and Grasso need additional food, they purchase it from local farmers markets and farms, including Love Dove Farms in western Howard County.
Warne’s interest in cooking began as a child, growing up in Sierra Leone.
“I come from a family of great cooks,” she says.
Both Warne’s mother and grandmother were “well-versed in the kitchen” and had a “good sense of flavors,” Warne says.
Still, catering came as a second career for Warne. After 10 years as a paralegal, she decided to attend culinary school in Gaithersburg. There she learned pastry making, a skill she lacked despite her years of cooking.
Today she considers her French bread and kouign amann, a buttery and flaky French cake, among her favorite dishes to bake for clients. While the menu varies depending on the season, other dishes include spinach salad with spiced quinoa, whole wheat spaghetti with summer squash and honey lime grilled flank steak with chili spiced asparagus.
Homeshed Kitchens also offers “Farm Fresh Fit Eating,” three- and five-day meal plans where clients can have fresh meals delivered to their homes or participating athletic centers.
Whether buying a meal plan or hosting a wedding or business lunch, Homeshed Kitchens clients can expect flexibility with a rustic, eco-friendly and understated style, Warne says.
“Events that appeal to the free-spirited bride and groom, or those who have a penchant for the handcrafted, laid-back, unpretentious yet beautiful things in life,” she says.