Chef Stu Hummel, of Clearfield, PA, remembers the first time he cooked for others, and the satisfaction he gained from making them happy. Today, each time he prepares a meal for someone, he still gets that same feeling he experienced at fourteen. Stu attended Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh, and then further honed his skills working at restaurants such as 27 Ocean Blue (Boca Raton), Company American Bistro (Las Vegas), Joël Robuchon (Las Vegas), and at The Mansion at the MGM Grand (Las Vegas).
Epiphany Farms Enterprise seemed like the perfect opportunity to grow as a chef, while creating a holistically sustainable operation. So, in September 2009, Stu joined Ken and Nanam in Illinois, and became a chef/farmer. Stu is dedicated to furthering Epiphany Farms’ mission of creating a vertically integrated farm/restaurant model. Each day new systems are established with an eye towards the ecological state of the land, soil, farm, and community. Stu embraces his role in stewarding the land, individually and as a chef.
Getting his hands in the dirt enlightened Stu to the energy required to grow something. Caring for a product from seed to harvest, seeing a carrot, for example, through its infancy and adolescence, and nurturing it into maturity builds a strong bond. Chef Stu sees it as his responsibility to provide that carrot with the best finish possible, out of respect to the vegetable and the energy that created it.
Raising the food he works with creates an emotional connection, one that Stu strives to communicate to his guests. Hospitality is a cornerstone of that interaction, a chance to create a community where neighbors support and depend on each other. As Stu sees it, “Hospitality is like a warm blanket,” an ongoing dialogue that serves to educate, bring comfort, and nourish all those involved.