Manning the stoves at McMinnville’s newest local foods driven restaurant, Blackbird, will be Chef Sebastian Carosi and his fiancé Heather. Originally from Federal Hill, The Little Italy section of Providence Rhode Island, Chef Carosi has earned a Culinary Arts degree from Western Culinary Institute in Portland, and has well over twenty years in the farm to fork end of the hospitality industry under his belt. Doing his Stagiare (apprenticeship) in Sardinia, Italy under the care and tutelage of highly regarded Chef Giovanna Cossu, he learned to draw his culinary inspiration from the utilization of a regions bounty of indigenous edible commodities. He is a champion of the Slowfood movement since its inception here in the US and is the founder of several sustainable food projects including: The New England Farm 2 Fork Project, The Esopus Spitzenberg Project (an antique apple CSA) and Flora Danica, (an eco-gastronomic roving rural supper club). These organizations he created to help raise public food supply awareness and to support America’s thriving farm to fork initiative.
Chef Carosi has lived in all but 10 states in the United States and is an admitted ‘local foods junkie.’ He recently hailed from longtime James Beard haunt The Historic Shelburne Inn (WA states oldest continuously operated inn and restaurant). Cooking on the same stove JB cooked many, many years ago was a true pleasure for a chef that looks up to such an important American culinary icon. He also served as the opening Working Executive Chef at Warren Vermont’s Sugarbush Resort, New England’s newest $66 mega-million dollar four-season ski resort. At ‘Mascara Mountain’ he operated a multi-unit (7) full service foodservice operation feeding in upwards of 6000 people a day while utilizing over 40 Vermont farms. He opened his own neighborhood eatery featuring California Wine Country Cuisine in the suburbs of Los Angeles and is one of only three remaining Shaker Chefs here in America, directing the foodservice operation at the 700 acre Historic Canterbury Shaker Village he grew 6 acres of certified organic vegetables and 2 acres of medicinal herbs, most from heirloom Shaker seed stock. Being the originators of sustainable grub, Sebastian immersed himself in Shaker food history and antique recipes handed down to him by The Deaconess of Kitchens – Sister Frances Carr. Sebastian has returned to his native New England time and time again to hone his skills in the craft of artisan & farmstead cheesemaking with leading American dairy consultant and legendary Vermont cheesemaker Peter Dixon, founder of The Training Center for Farmstead Milk Processing. There he learned hands-on ‘raw milk’ artisan cheesemaking, starter culture technology and affinage, and proper cave aging techniques. He is a long time member of the American Cheese Society and a true turophile who remains deep-rooted in the American farmstead ‘raw-milk’ cheese movement. Sebastian is also a devout member of Southern Foodways Alliance, The Chefs Collaborative and The Vermont Fresh Network, he is avidly involved in educating the public about traditional food ways, old world cooking techniques, Shaker food and lifestyle, heirloom fruits and vegetables and heritage breed animals. In 2o11 Chef Carosi was asked by Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello Foundation to give a demonstration at their annual Heritage Harvest Festival, Sebastian graciously offered up a demonstration on ‘makin’ bacon’ and gave a speech on heritage breed hogs in the 21st century kitchen and the importance of their consumption that will help us keep these rare antique breeds thriving for a few more centuries.
Prior to coming back to the Pacific Northwest Sebastian was responsible for the conversion of a 130 year old apple packing barn into a multi-use space including a natural foods cooperative with over 20 farmer / producer members, 12 artist’s studios, 4 galleries, an on-line farm store and CSA with delivery in to the DC area twice a week and a 90 seat local foods driven restaurant… The couple was also an integral part in creating an all-natural organic market and restaurant in historic Lexington, VA featuring over 30,000 organic and all-natural products…
Heather, Sebastian’s fiancé will also be an integral part of the day to day operations at the restaurant. Her culinary aspirations began at an early age while cooking side by side with her mammy and by the age of fourteen she was working in the seasonal kitchens of Maine’s coastal restaurants. There is no-doubt Heathers upbringing had a deep-rooted influence on her culinary career. She was raised in several small quintessential rural Maine villages by a grandma for whom cooking and eating were the center of life. At her house, it was common to eat classic New England Cuisine, but Maine-fare was a mainstay. A family garden, wild ‘low bush’ blueberries, ramps, forest foraged wild mushrooms, fiddlehead ferns, moose and seafood from the coast were all gastronomic items of inspiration. And being able to set her own lobster traps by ten was another staple of growing up in Maine. Heathers culinary education continues as she is now responsible for foodservice marketing, events coordinating and the ‘sugar therapy’ selections offered on Blackbirds dessert menu.
Blackbird will feature delicious Progressive Pacific Northwest Wine Country Cuisine and monthly changing menus utilizing as many local and organic products that they can procure. The beverage program at Blackbird will deliver hand-select Oregon made wines, biodynamic and sustainably produced. All wine is open by the glass. There will also be a wide variety of bottled vintage and all-natural soda pop, including America’s oldest carbonated beverage – Moxie. Sustainable organic teas and local micro-brews from Fire Mountain Brewery and Heater Allen will round out the beverage offerings at the new restaurant. Chef Carosi has committed to purchasing from over 30 local farmers and producers at this time and hopes to expand on that number in the near future. Technology reigns supreme at Blackbird, orders are taken on ipads, keeping the restaurant entirely paper free unless you are old school and wish for a paper version. Chef Carosi has created a section in the ipad system dubbed his ‘agricultural commitments.”
“Pure Oregon” is Chef Sebastian Carosi’s culinary and gastronomic focus at Blackbird. He will provide the best of what the Willamette Valley, our region and state has to offer with creative, healthy and delicious results. To that end, our mission at Blackbird is simple; we believe that the food we grow, procure from the local community farmers and cook in the place that we call home defines who we are. In this spirit we: celebrate Pacific Northwest Regional Cuisine, revive heritage American food-ways, traditions and recipes, support local, organic and regional farmers, cheesemakers, creameries, breweries, winemakers, ranchers and shepherds; cook food that recaptures the simple and pure tastes found in locally grown and sustainably harvested regional ingredients and we always strive to raise awareness of a sustainable local food system for the future of our children. Our goal at Blackbird, a local-foods driven restaurant, is to promote a community gathering place that brings us all together with food, fun and most importantly family, offering a complete cultural experience. Our little slice of Yamhill County, in the widely known American Viticulture Area (ava) of the Willamette Valley is a beautiful and exciting place to live, work and play. We are proud and happy to be part of the ‘McMinnville neighborhood’ here in Yamhill County and more importantly the food and hospitality community. We are all neighbors, whether you are coming into town from any locale, come by the Blackbird and grab a bite of real homegrown culinary experience. Chef Carosi is happy to relocate his family back to Oregon after more than 15 years and is very excited about being surrounded by Willamette Valley Vintners and farmers alike.
FACEBOOK: BLACKBIRD CAFE
2850 SE Stratus Ave
McMinnville, Oregon 97128
Open Tuesday through Saturday, 7 am to 9 pm
Mondays, 11 am to 9 pm
Blackbird hours of operation:
Breakfast- 8am-10am Monday-Saturday
Lunch- 11am-3pm Monday-Saturday
Dinner- 5pm-close Tuesday-Saturday
Sunday Brunch- 10am-2pm
Sunday Supper- 5pm-close (family style)