Joel Viehland has worked at award-winning restaurants such as New York’s Gramercy Tavern, Noma in Copenhagen, Herbsaint and Bayona in New Orleans, before becoming opening chef at Community Table where he was nominated for three James Beard Awards and named Best Small Town Chef in America by Cooking Light. In 2017 Joel opened Swyft in Kent. When the pandemic hit, Joel decided to sell Swyft opting to focus on special events for private clients.
What are your favorite local farmers markets?
I’ve been going to the Litchfield Farmers’ Market since I moved here in 2010. It’s always been the largest and most consistent in our little area but recently I’m also impressed with the Washington Farmers’ Market in the Depot. It has an incredible selection of great quality stuff for its size. I typically look for really nice berries or heirloom tomatoes. I love white currants so if they have them I’m definitely buying them.
Where do you like to pick up fresh bread?
Where do you like to get local tomatoes?
If the weather isn’t optimal for tomatoes to ripen sufficiently or if there is too much rain and blite sets in, then I’ll usually seek out a farm that uses green houses or a hoop house to grow them. So for this I will go to Megan Haney at Marble Valley Farm in Kent or March Farm in Bethlehem. If the season is great weather wise there are several great options: Helmstead Farm, Waldingfield Farm, Rock Cobble Farm, and Vibrant Farm all grow superb tomatoes.
Do you have a favorite dairy farm?
So Thorncrest Farm & Milk House Chocolates to me is the most unique farm in the region. They have the highest quality and best tasting milk in probably all of New England. They take that incredible milk and make artisan handmade cow specific chocolates from cocoa beans. Kim Thorn is a milk sommelier and has one of the better palates in the area. This place is a must visit, everything they do is awesome.
Your favorite local fish, beef, pork, and chicken suppliers?
For pork and chicken there are many options, Earth’s Palate Farm raises amazing pigs. They also have a wonderful poultry program. For beef, Rock Cobble Farm has hands down the best beef program in the region. For fish, if you can’t access the docks at the shore then the two best places to buy retail fish are either Tilden’s Seafood in Litchfield or New Morning Market in Woodbury. Call the farm a few weeks ahead and find out when they will have what you want to ensure your product will be as fresh as possible when you pick it up and not prefrozen.
Your favorite places for ingredients?
Tienda Latina in New Milford is my go to for Latin American ingredients and spices. I also love Indian Food & Spice in Danbury, they have a great spice selection and really awesome Indian products. The Dutch Epicure in Litchfield also has some great hard to find Northern European ingredients that you can’t get around here. And for legit Italian products I buy from Gustiamo.
Your favorite easy summer menu for a gathering?
Caviar with homemade tater tots and crème fraîche. A crudo dish of raw fish, I usually like to serve this with something citrusy, something spicy, with herbs and something for texture in the dish. For a main course I’d probably want my pizza or a perfectly roasted whole chicken. For a dessert I love simple things like a seasonal fruit based tart with either meringues or with a light custard or sorbet.