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New 'pop up' cafe features all-local ingredients

Local residents will have a chance to experience the area's newest food adventure this weekend when Toasties Sustainable Table, a pop up cafe featuring culinary treats made with 100 percent locally produced ingredients, puts in an appearance at Chambersburg Capitol Theatre's 7th annual Pop A Cork celebration.

The event runs from noon to 7 p.m. Saturday and Toasties crew will set up their "cafe" in the parking lot behind Capitol Theatre, 159 S. Main Street.

Toasties chief operating officer Ruthie Dell says Saturday's menu will include made-on-the-premises BLT pitas with Warm bacon dressing, zucchini fritters and a delicious watermelon desert fruit pizza. The Toasties staff will also serve a herbal iced tea made with locally produced herbal tea and sweetened with local maple sugar.

The most important feature of the new business is the fact that Chef Christopher Largent and the Toasties staff use only ingredients produced locally, even down to the seasonings used in their dishes.

"What makes Toasties different from other farm to table restaurants is that our entire summer menu is grown, and sourced within a 100 mile radius of Shippensburg," she said. "Every ingredient that Toasties uses down to its simplest form is grown, raised, harvested, and processed in our local community."

The "pop up" cafe idea is something that has been brewing in the back of Dell's mind ever since she dreamed it up as part of an assignment in grad school at Norwich University in Vermont.

She was getting her graduate degree in diplomacy but had to take one class that wasn't in her concentration field, so she chose a business class. When she was tasked with making a business plan, she decided on a restaurant or cafe, but one with a twist, and one that would feature locally produced food.

So was born the "pop up" cafe idea.

She describes a pop up cafe as a mobile restaurant that can pop up at any given location, like a supper club.

"I did this plan (for a mobile business that could be set up almost anywhere) based on providing dishes made only with locally produced products," she said. "Then I sat on it for a long time."

Last year Dell began doing the leg work to determine if the idea could be turned into an economically viable business.

Once she had all the documentation she needed and the legal legwork was taken care of, she began looking at local businesses that could provide the all-local ingredients she hoped to use.

She eventually lined up 14 of those who could provide her with everything from the more obvious locally grown fruit, veggies and herbs to the things like local flour, cornmeal and even sweeteners such as honey and maple sugar.

"This is such an important part of our business, so I had to be sure we could find everything we needed to do provide a menu featuring entirely local ingredients" she said.

These are local businesses that are small and some are fairly new to the local food market.

The business is different than many vendors who come to town for festivals and fairs in that Dell and her crew set up a portable stove and grill under a tent and make all the dishes they serve at the event instead of bringing pre-made dishes to the site to sell.

"Everyone can watch us make the pita bread and put together the dishes," she said.

Vicky Taylor can be reached at 717-262-4753