For more than 30 years, Mary Cleaver has been a pioneer in the local and sustainable food movement. And on November 16th, Slow Food NYC will honor her hard work and dedication with an inaugural Snailblazer Award.
Mary began catering in the late 1970’s, out of her kitchen on the fifth floor of a Mulberry Street walk-up. At the time, the majority of NYC’s food supply was being imported from other parts of the world—which baffled her, since she grew up eating and cooking seasonally in rural areas of the Northeast. With the belief that the best ingredients come from no more than a day’s drive away, Mary became dedicated to rebuilding the city’s infrastructure to support a local farming economy.
Over the past few decades, Mary has been at the forefront of encouraging and enabling change in the local distribution system. She worked with City Harvest to feed a post-9/11 community nutritious meals made from area produce, and partnered with local purveyors to increase the direct supply of healthy animal proteins to greenmarkets. She even founded Farm To Chef—a program that puts the wares of small farmers directly into Manhattan restaurant kitchens.
Today, Mary continues to blaze trails and successfully runs two green businesses in Chelsea Market: The Cleaver Company, a full-service gourmet catering operation that uses fresh local, organic fare; and The Green Table, a celebrated sustainable eatery and wine bar.
Next Wednesday, the New York City chapter of Slow Food—an international organization dedicated to a good, clean and fair food system—will host The Slow Down annual gala, featuring artisanal cocktails, a whole pig roasted by Fatty ‘Cue, raffle and silent auction, and seasonal treats created by “slow friendly” establishments. During the event, Brian Halweil (publisher of Edible Manhattan, Edible Brooklyn, and editor of Edible East End) will present the prestigious—and aptly named—Snailblazer Award to Mary Cleaver. Well deserved, indeed.
Don’t miss out on this extraordinary evening! To join Slow Food NYC and celebrate the efforts of this year’s very special honoree, visit SlowFoodNYC.org/fundraiser to purchase tickets. Proceeds will support the Slow Food NYC Urban Harvest programs, which focus on helping and teaching kids in communities with limited access to fresh, healthful food.
Many congratulations, Mary!
Photo courtesy of The Cleaver Co.