It looks like Chesterfield is going to see more than a new version of the old Chesterfield Store. We will soon have a grocery store, a cafe with a full liquor license, small deli, baked goods, especially bread and pizza from a brick wood-fired oven, and a special space for family and community events all under one roof. Plans are in the works to build a garden on site and then begin to offer vegetables and flowers. Because of Joan Hick’s inspiration, a group of volunteers came together on May 10th to help paint walls and do some cleaning. Lunch was provided by Greg and his wife Kristen, including sandwiches made with Greg’s homemade focaccia bread and his chocolate chip cookies. Everyone had a great time. Some plan to continue helping out when they can, depending on their other commitments and Greg’s schedule.
It seemed fitting to learn more about the chef (the owner), his wife Kristen and the family. What soon became clear during our interview is that Greg brings a lot of experience with him, not only as a chef but as someone who has traveled a great deal and lived in many diverse communities. All of his experiences also exposed him to many cultural aspects of food, the significance food can hold within each community and how uniting food can be.
Greg was born in Alaska although his parents came from Western Massachusetts. After his father finished ROTC and entered the Army, the family moved to many different states and then overseas. Within the U.S., they moved from Massachusetts to Maine, Colorado, Kansas, and Virginia. When they were stationed in Germany, Greg traveled in both Eastern and Western Europe. After working his way through college at UMASS with a major in comparative literature, he looked for a job and soon began a career as a chef. He discovered that he loved cooking, and loved hands on work. He learned other lessons of the trade: cooking is not an easy life; you must learn to adapt to changes;
keep busy, and make yourself useful. That said, the gratification is immediate. Combining what he learned in being part of different cultures with learning about different foods has made for a good recipe for success.
It’s quite a journey from Alaska to Bavaria. Greg describes how helpful to him it’s been to learn the importance of embracing others, valuing cultural differences, and learning what the word community can mean when people work together
His culinary journey progressed from Classe E in Amherst, Green St Café in Northampton, on to Packards, and the Blue Heron which he helped organize and open at the Book Mill in Montague. He found out that cooking could be an expression of who you are. His interest in food also involved working in the winter at the Coldspring Orchard, owned by UMass, with his wife Kristen Hanley who is currently the Assistant Farm manager. They keep a substantial garden at home and plan to plant a smaller one beside the store. He and Kristen have two sons, Malachy, who is 2 and Sam who is 7 years old and attending New Hingham Elementary school.
Both Greg and Kristen pride themselves in being independent and Kristen has been helping with the store. Setting up and opening the store in Chesterfield has been an independent project that will see the doors opening sometime in June.
The hope is to open a store that not only is part of his family but an important part of the town. “I want the store to be a place where you come in feeling that you’re part of it, and that it’s also part of the community. The brick oven fire will always be going and there will always be room to sit down and have a cup of coffee.”
We wish a hearty welcome to Greg, Kristen, Malachy and Sam.