MOUNTAIN PEAK: FAMILY VENTURE IS (WELL) DRESSED FOR SUCCESS

mtnPeakFamily
Nathalie, Jessie and Helyett at the farmers market. (Photo by McShane Photography)

BY COREY BURDICK

Local ingredients, perfectly melded flavors and kitchen gatherings clustered around a bustling stove— the experiences that surround recipe sharing and cooking are so strong, the mere waft of a favorite meal can elicit powerful memories.

This is certainly the case for the women behind Well Dressed Greens, a Burlington-based organic dressing company.

“All three of us see the sharing of recipes and the preparation of a healthful staple in those recipes as a similar way of conveying a sense of nurturing that is an important part of who we are as people” said owner Nathalie Feldman, a physician. For many, family recipes become coveted secrets, but in Feldman’s family the recipe became the impetus for creating a business.

“For years our family has been encouraged to bottle our vinaigrettes by anyone who has ever tasted them, but it took the cando spirit and enthusiasm of our daughter Jessie, a vegetarian since age 9 who has always valued delicious, organic healthful foods, to finally make doing so a reality. In 2009, while home from college seeking a summer job, Jessie proposed starting a small family business. She invested some of her personal savings, thought of a name, registered it with the [patent office] and drove to Montpelier to hand deliver her business registration to the Secretary of State, though a simple stamp would have sufficed!” Feldman said. Now, the three women make the dressings together and Jessie’s original idea has become a threegeneration family passion.

“Mommy Dressing,” as Jessie and her brother Ben affectionately called the vinaigrette as children, became a staple in their household as it had been for Feldman herself growing up in Montreal. Likewise, the vinaigrette was a mainstay of her mother’s home in France 60 years ago.

“The labels of the bottles each bear the name of a family member who inspired the flavor, originating with Jessie’s beloved grandmother—my mother, Helyett, the creator of the traditional French recipe upon which all our flavors are based.”

Currently, the dressings come in four flavors: Helyett’s traditional French vinaigrette, Nathalie’s red wine and balsamic, Jessie’s balsamic vinaigrette, and Lilou, an organic maple balsamic named after Helyett’s sister. All of the dressings are produced and bottled in Feldman’s certified organic home kitchen. Jessie Feldman graduated from college in May 2012 and had a fantastic job opportunity arise in NYC, therefore, although the business remains a family project, at the moment, the bulk of the production is done by Feldman. Her husband, son and a group of friends assist on production days with mixing, pouring, labeling and bottling. It’s a project that has grown to involve several members of their family and friends on all levels.

From the glass dressing bottles, which are made in Fairfax, to the organic ingredients as much as possible is sourced locally. The fresh garlic used in all of the dressings is grown by Last Resort Farm in Bristol and Bella Farm in Monkton. The maple syrup comes from Amber Ridge in Underhill. While they are striving to create a 100% local dressing, it can be difficult to acquire some of the oils nearby with the exception of sunflower oil.

Feldman’s experience as a physician has certainly helped inform and drive the production of a healthy product. “My career has been devoted to educating patients about healthful choices. In medicine, the most fulfi lling part of my job is interacting with patients, students and colleagues in a manner that brings us all closer to a common goal of providing compassionate healing care to others. Helping Jessie create Well Dressed Greens became an exciting way for me to exercise a diff erent more creative part of my brain!”

Developing this company has been rewarding in many ways to Feldman and her family. It has become a tangible way to honor her mother’s heritage and cooking talents and has connected her with members of the vast community of local farmers, food producers, CSAs and farmers markets throughout Vermont. (If they can fi nd help this summer, they would love to participate in the Burlington Farmers Market again). Local stores’ generosity and commitment to carrying local products have been inspiring as well. “Th ere is a collegiality that comes from our shared purpose of providing local nutritious food to our neighbors that is personally very gratifying for all of us.”

Currently, you can enjoy Well Dressed Greens vinaigrettes at Healthy Living Market, City Market, Natural Provisions Williston, Shelburne Supermarket and Shelburne Meat Market, the Intervale Food Hub, Vermont Country Deli, Vermont Butcher Block and Board Company, and occasionally at the Burlington Farmers Market.

WellDressedGreens.com

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