Foraging for Flavor with Sarah Tocco of Fine Creek Brewing Company

Foraging for Flavor with Sarah Tocco of Fine Creek Brewing Company

Pairing food and beer seems easy until you remove bagels, burgers, and pizza from the menu. Moving beyond these staples and aiming to use locally-sourced, seasonal (and sometimes foraged!) ingredients turns beer pairing into an art. In this episode, we spoke with Sarah Tocco about her role as the Head Chef of Fine Creek Brewing Company. We’ll take a dive into the incredible Fine Creek ecosystem which consists of a wedding venue, brewery, cottages, patisserie, and coffee shop — all on the same property.

As Sarah explains, Fine Creek is a close-knit family-run business with a strong sense of community. We discuss how Fine Creek has pivoted their offerings to deal with the COVID crisis before talking about their wonderful garden and what they grow there. From the garden to the taproom, we chat about the many beers that Fine Creek brews and how Sarah is always creating something new for her customers to try while retaining the firm favorites. We then touch on foraging for food, how Sarah champions using beer in food, and the fall flavors that Sarah enjoys working with. Near the end of the episode, Sarah shares how she developed her passion for the kitchen, with extra details on how she fell in love with and then married her head pastry chef. Tune in and hear more about Fine Creek and learn some of Sarah’s secrets on the art pairing beer with food.

Get to Know Chef Sarah Tocco:

Name: Sarah Tocco

Years in the food industry: 27

Favorite Food: Almond-flavored anything to eat and Homemade Pasta To make!

Least Favorite Food: Sushi

The last thing I ate and loved: Coconut Risotto Cakes from Kuba Kuba

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Introducing Sarah Tocco, the head chef at the Fine Creek Brewing Company.

  • Focusing on sustainable and locally-sourced food and spending money locally.

  • How Sarah’s brewery fits in with Fine Creek’s other offerings.

  • Hear how Fine Creek has been dealing with the COVID crisis.

  • Developing Fine Creek as a family business where each family member makes a contribution. 

  • Details about Fine Creek’s garden and what food they grow.

  • Sarah talks about the many beer recipes and flavors that Fine Creek brews.

  • Foraging for food; the things around you can make for a delicious beer!

  • The art of pairing food with beer and moving beyond typical hand foods.

  • Finding new ways to offer their services in the face of social distance restrictions.

Links Mentioned in This Episode:

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Click Here for Full Transcript

Sarah Tocco 0:00:
You know, my kids are kind of like, really, mom? Because they’ll come home and I’m like, what do we have in the yard, here’s some dandelions. Redbuds and forsythia, here’s your salad.”

Georgiana Dearing 00:13:
Welcome to The Virginia Foodie Podcast. Where we lift the lid on the craft food industry and tell the stories behind that good food, good people and good brands that you know and love. If you’ve ever come across a yummy food brand and wondered, “How do they do that? How did they turn that recipe into a successful business?” Then we’ve got some stories for you.

Georgiana Dearing 00:39:

Hello podcast listeners, thanks for joining us for another episode. I’m George Dearing, owner of Water Street Marketing and founder of Virginia Foodie. And I got to say, I think I started this podcast just so I could talk to people like today’s guest. Sarah Tocco. Sarah is head chef at Fine Creek Brewing and she’s got a great story to tell about craft beer, craft food, and her journey with the local food movement.

Sarah Tocco 01:11:
Thank you for having me, first of all. My name is Sarah Tocco and I work out of Fine Creek Brewing Company as the head chef out there. We’re a small family-owned farm house brewery. It’s just kind of way out in Powhatan and is in a very rural setting with lots of greenery and beautifulness around it. And we are a craft malt brewery, which means that we use at least 10% certified craft malt. But lots of our beers — usually about 100% craft malt using, like, Morphinan Rude Malting, and Epiphany, and River Bend.

We really, even in our brewing process really like to focus on sort of the local sustainable processes. And then I, as the kitchen, even though we’re a brewery tasting room, we do have a menu. It’s about seven items a weekend or so. And I also use that same kind of mentality with our menu in doing a lot of local and seasonal items, as we can do it. We’re a craft malt-certified brewery, which means that we use at least 10% of the local craft malt like Murphy and Rude or River Bend or Epiphany.

But we actually sometimes use 100% of the craft malt in our beers and we take that approach with our food as well, we take that approach with our food really kind of putting a heavy focus on sustainable and putting our money back into the local economy and really focusing on local and sustainable agriculture, both for our beer and our food.

Georgiana Dearing 02:47:
You said you're a family-owned business and I know that you're on a nice piece of property down there. Can you tell me a little bit about the relationship between the brewery and the cottages and Fine Creek provisions?

Sarah Tocco 03:01:
Sure, the whole company was bought actually, started as a grist mill, the ruins of a grist mill along Fine Creek mills. It was purchased by Lisa Benusa, who owns the whole business. And she saw it and the little miller’s cottage and cheese cottage that kind of came in that little area. And she just fell in love with the spot and wanted to create this dream vision of a wedding venue.

She bought the whole entity there and built on the wedding venue part of it back in 2003. And kind of operated as the Millet at Fine Creek wedding venue for several years, up until her son, Mark Benusa also bought into the business. So now they’re kind of a mother son duo. They just continued to grow. I mean, they built their house on the property so they live there now. And then we reformatted the general store into our provisions shop, which is our guest check-in for our inns, and we have a 13 cottage inn going on. And we have three bedroom, two bedroom and one bedroom cottages.

And then, the brewery at the top of the hill. So all of that came in 2017. Yeah, it’s kind of like one big cohesive unit. With everything working together as a whole so the whole business, the wedding venue, the guest will stay at the cottages and then they’ll come up to the brewery for the rehearsal dinner. Or their post wedding brunch. And they’ll head down to the general store and drink coffee — and our newest addition, which is the coffee shop.

And then there’s pastries and specialty cakes and things like that that they sell down in the provision store from Pastry Chef Pierre and —

Georgiana Dearing 04:31:
Your husband.

Sarah Tocco 04:32:
My husband, yup. There’s — every part of it kind of works really well together in this cohesive group. And yet, each part also operates really individually on its own, as well. The brewery bringing in people from Richmond and Charlottesville who come to try our beer and our food. Or they’re coming from local pallets and just sit at the coffee shop and eat some pastries and drink coffee. Or they’re coming to the wedding venue. And it’s not always just a wedding venue — Lisa does all kinds of things for the local sheriff’s office and volunteer nights and Habitat for Humanity and things like that.

There’s always a function going on, pre-COVID was a little easier. But, you know, things are happening and things are getting back to normal down there. They operate as their own kind of entity with their whole catering department, Lisa heading up the Mills catering with their Head Chef Ken now. And Pastry Chef Pierre again down there who does all the wedding cakes.

Everything is kind of on its own but there’s also this great big cohesive unit that works super well together.

Georgiana Dearing 05:31:
It sounds really good. You mentioned a few things, like, the coffee shops kind of new. And we’re talking in August of 2020, so we’re still feeling the weirdness of 2020. How was that for you guys? How did that spring and summer go for you?

Sarah Tocco 05:50:
It was definitely weird, it was knocking us flat on our backs and then trying to stand up with two left feet. Definitely trying to navigate this really weird crazy world of COVID. And we kind of just shut everything down for a few weeks while the owner’s kind of put their heads together — and tried to figure out, “Where do we go from here?”

But we did slowly start changing things up, you know? Going to curbside takeout with the beer. And then eventually bringing in delivery and then the wedding venue, we kind of refocused instead of having big weddings, which we weren’t allowed to do at the time, we still aren’t really allowed to do huge weddings. But we would take that facility and our food orders. And Lisa and Ken would put together meals for Feed More, and feed some of our local families. And I would bring in food from our vendors and separate it out into groceries for our staff and bring it to people and you know, just really keeping the staff and the community fed in the time where we were quarantined in our homes and not wanting to go out to grocery stores.

Georgiana Dearing 06:50:
Wow, that’s a good story of caring, I guess I should say.

Sarah Tocco 06:56:
Yeah, definitely. And then as, you know, the latest addition was the coffee shop. We just opened that up, I want to say in July, maybe the end of June, the owner’s daughter, Elise, her boyfriend Shane is a real expert in coffee. He kind of bought this giant espresso machine and brought it in and it kind of created this little coffee shop that he’s been working. And it’s great because the family really puts a lot of effort into all being together and each family member brings in this different part to the business, you know?

It’s nice that her kids are involved and Mark, kind of is the big person up at the brewery. So he’s sort of the owner that really is more on the scene at the brewery and has a big vision for the brewery. I work with Mark really a lot and Lisa, down at the mill. But we’ve been just kind of growing and kind of trying to get back to normal.

We reopened the brewery to the public on Memorial Day weekend, which would have been our third anniversary. So it was a different kind of celebration for our anniversary. But it was a celebration nonetheless. We started without food really, the kitchen didn’t really operate at all. But we, slowly each week, have been expanding back to our food menu, it’s different, it’s in dispensable and it’s really simplified but it’s back to being — people are still coming for the food. And we’re so proud of what we present so we’re getting there and every week we’re growing, we’re getting back to normal and as much normal as it could be.

Georgiana Dearing 08:31:
You mentioned a couple of things in your introduction about the brewing process. And I’m not a beer person by any means, and I think I should probably have a whole episode about that. But you list it off a bunch of different types of hop, do you grow things on your property, do you grow hops like I know that you source local flavors but are you also growing some of your ingredients?

Sarah Tocco 08:54:
Yes, absolutely. We use farms a lot but we also have full time gardeners, Laura and Michelle and our groundsman Woody — all care for this great garden we have up at the brewery. And we have a garden behind the Mill, so we’ll grow all of our own herbs and we’ll grow some really normal things like fennel and basil. Lots and lots of basil and rosemary and all the herbs that you use and blackberries.

But we do also grow our hops and we also grow some weird stuff like shiso, which is like in the mint family sort of, it’s almost like a cross between basil and mint. And kind of hails from the mountainous regions of Indian-China, so that’s kind of an unusual thing that we grow, that we use in cooking and in growing.

We grow ground cherries which are kind of like little tomatillos with the paper thin paper husks.

Georgiana Dearing 09:44:
Yeah, what do you do with those? I see them in our farmer’s market and I got them once and it didn’t go well for me.

Sarah Tocco 09:52:
I know, well, yeah, I mean, personally, I think they look really neat and when they’re ripe, they don’t, I mean, they’re kind of like our little tomatillos. But I put them on my cheese board because I love the way that they look. But they actually have a huge amount of pectin, so making jams out of them is something that’s a really interesting thing.

I mean, it’s a lot of work, these little guys are tiny. It’s really, how much you want to put into it. But we do also have amaranth so we’ll grow this beautiful, has a beautiful pinkish red flower that just look really beautiful on food. But also is a natural dye so you can use it to dye things pink. But also last year, Laura and Michell harvested the seeds from the amaranth and I popped it almost like popcorn. And used it as a garnish on sorpresine pasta for five-flower pork.

When they came out last year, last October, we made — had a little tour with Casa Mount Farm’s ginger. That was fun, it was kind of like a unique way to use our product. We grow some weird stuff and we also grow some normal stuff but we have just a huge array of edible flowers to which are my favorite because I put them on everything.

Yeah, we have the farmhouse brewery aspect of things and growing a lot of our own stuff and some very dedicated gardeners who are really great at what they do.

Georgiana Dearing 11:09:
I’m on your email list and I see that the brewery changes flavors a lot, are you like a real small batch brewery there and what’s up with flavors going on?

Sarah Tocco 11:20:
Yeah, we run on a three barrel system, it’s a small production and he does change flavors a lot. We’ll have a few things that people really love like the Helslager or some of our Dad’s Drink IPAs and things that we keep kind of on-hand. Because people love it so much and they come consistently for it.

But Brian, the brewer, is just an incredibly knowledgeable guy who’s full of all these great and unique ideas and ingredients and things that he uses in his beers. He just pulled, which is bottled off the Golden Sour which he sat in Francis Ford Coppola’s barrels for 13 months. Or we just also have a different sour that’s on with a collaboration with Blenheim Vineyards on their grape skins. He’s always doing some sort of unique thing.

But the cool part about Brian is not only his incredible knowledge of both the science of brewing and just pretty much anything you want to know, he’s full of knowledge with. But he brought with him, when he came onboard, this knowledge of foraging items. He’s really introduced our staff to really using all the products you can find around you.

You know, my kids are kind of like, “Really, mom?” Because they’ll come home and I’m like, “What do we have in the yard? Here’s some dandelions. Red buds and forsythia, here’s your salad.” But he’s really introduced us to that. He’ll have the whole staff go out and pawpaws and he’ll make a beer out of it. And then I would make, like, a barbecue sauce out of pawpaws, last year on the menu and that season’s coming up. Or Daniel, the tapper manager, and Brian and I went out on a really cold miserable October day and navigated through cow pies. And really sharp branches to pick some trifoliate oranges which are horrible to eat.

And then I tried desperately to create something edible out of, I tried candying them like eight times. And I eventually landed on this weird olive oil cake that sort of had that in there. And once you get over the bitterness of it, it tasted pretty good. But not something that I’ll probably work with this year. But the beer it made was really great.

And then Daniel and I took his kids out to his dad’s house. And picked persimmons and brought that all back for beer and — but it’s really kind of forced us to learn a lot about what is around us. Even in our own backyard, especially out in Palatine, there’s just so many local — we have cactus growing out there that we’ve used and spice bushy berries and juniper berries. And I’ll make forsythia jams and red but simple syrups and all these stuff that Brian definitely brought to the table. So his flavor palette is really expanded and different than most places, you know?

He brings that to the beer and it doesn’t make them unapproachable or too weird to drink, you know? They’re still approachable, drinkable wonderful beers but just different and utilize things that we find right here on our property.

Georgiana Dearing 14:16:
That foraging concept is really interesting to me and I think one of the things that drew me to wanting to just talk to you is that it’s kind of unusual for a brewery to have such an interesting menu attached to it. It’s more common to have sort of their brewery have be plugged into the food truck scene, which is great. Great food and interesting and changeable menu. But could you tell me a little bit about how you’re creating your menu for really a brewery.

Sarah Tocco 14:48:
Right, yeah, you know, we started with a really small concept, we had the idea of just doing small handheld food, really good, made from scratch. Bagels, pretzels is something that Lisa said — make a lot with bagel dough and turn it into pretzels and hand pies. And you know, really kind of bar food but really homemade and just with a lot of dedication to it.

But as we got busier and people started responding more, I kind of pushed the envelope probably a little more than they were comfortable with at the time. But customers do respond well to it. Ad so we just kind of have grown a lot with the food menu. The process that goes into creating this menu is really complex. You know, pre-COVID, we spent so much time pairing the beer with the food every single Friday, we would all sit down for a manager’s meeting and talk about food that paired well with each beer. And Brian would really think about it.

He would take it really to heart. A lot of places would do that, put up which beer you should drink with which item. And not really care about it. But he would really take it to heart. That was always a fun process. But then, even before that, in the process of making menus, I would really have to see what was upcoming. What beers were going to be released the following weekend, what festivals we had coming up. What the farm had available. The weather, you know what the Mill, as a wedding venue was bringing in. And what they might have some extra of that I could take and utilize. So it was really this whole big process to try to create this menu for the beer. And he would come in and say, “You know we have to trifoliate orange beer coming out, what can you do?”

And sometimes if I couldn’t pair something with it or I had already other plans or other things going on, I would just use that beer to cook with. So using beer and beer bread, whether it would be a sweeter molasses-y stout beer bread or something a little more citrusy with ginger. Or all of these different things that I could do with the beer and even in the process of brewing, I could use the work from brewing and boil it down and make this kind of sweet syrup that I will use as a pancake syrup for our brunches.

We used to do brunches and things like that. So we are using beer for beer broths for Oktoberfest, you know but trying to champion the beer in our food. Or pairing it with the food was just a huge part of what we did and it still is. You know, the menu, we are still starting to get back to that. And we are starting to get more back into the routine of how we used to do things and we definitely intend fully. I am going back in that direction.

So right now it is still a little more simplified and focusing a little bit more on what makes sense. And what we are bringing in down at the Mill and what we can utilize. And keep very synched and specific. But as you know, the wedding venue gets busier and the cottages get busier and the season gets busier. And the farms are sharing more, we’re just constantly expanding and bringing it back to where it was. So you know it is trying to find a way now to plan a menu that looks good in a disposable box.

That is a little harder for me. But we’re doing the best we can to make this time still great for really highlighting what we do. And we’re not letting it stop us from growing and trying new things and just doing what we do. And we’re a really close-knit family — they’re a family, literally, and then we’re a family of people who work together. I have worked for the company for 10 years now, so.

Georgiana Dearing 18:21:
Oh okay.

Sarah Tocco 18:22:
Yeah, so it’s been a long time and has Daniel, the tap room manager. He and I both used to bartend weddings down at the Mill, like, way back when it was just the wedding venue. And Mark, the owner used to be, before he even bought into it, was the bar manager at the weddings. And gave the original brewer, kind of, those ideas of what opened the brewery. He was also a bartender down at the weddings. So all of us have been this team since the beginning there and just really grown up together.

We watched each other get married and have kids and you know all of those things. So it is like we are very, very close and we just really champion each other and growing up together and we just were very close up there.

Georgiana Dearing 19:03:
Oh, I know I can tell that that’s a very tight-knit group. And so one of the reasons I wanted to talk to you is to say, “Okay, tell me who all of these families are?” So that is a great story. It’s the essence of a family if you are not all immediately directly related that’s pretty cool. I like that very much.

Sarah Tocco 19:24:
Yeah and even people that aren’t actually in their family, they bring in employees and their families. So many employees, their children also work there. Or husband and wife duos, like my husband and I both work there. They definitely really cherish family, whether it is their own family or their employee’s family. So everybody is family. I think we took this one picture back in the wedding venue of all the moms and their daughters who were catering down at the wedding venue because there were so many.

So many different generations of people that brought in their kids to work there. So it is definitely, we keep it in the family. A lot of companies turn away from that but they really love it. So it’s kind of nice to work for.

Georgiana Dearing 20:07:
That is a nice story. That sounds really cool. So you have been through the early part of COVID. And we have gone through this summer and you are ramping things back up, what can we look forward to for the fall. I know we’re recording now, right? As September is starting and yet you got sort of a festival spread out over the weekend. So tell us what is going on for the fall at the Mill?

Sarah Tocco 20:31:
We’re finally starting to get back to the idea of festivals in a different format, you know in a distant, safe way. Not so many big huge packed buildings of people anymore but still bringing in the new flavor and different taps — of, guess taps from different breweries around town that we love to coordinate with and collaborate with. So we’re still doing these festivals and pairing our food with it and trying to do stuff that still is exciting.

You know going into it but also keeping in mind the situation we’re in, and we used to have pop ups every weekend of different vendors. Whether it was a winery of the honey Elysium honey or cheeses, 20 pieces of cheeses would come out but you know we are starting to get back into that idea again. So a few weekends ago we had Don Smith from Owl Orchard out. They are selling peaches and things so we are starting to pick back up in that direction.

And we actually love the fall because you know the summer is so aggressively hot and humid. And we have this great outdoor space. Just beautiful huge, tons of seating, tons of covered space but we also have our fireplaces and our fire pits. And so we have lots of space where people can go and spend some time and really enjoy the environment while enjoying our beer and food. And so we’re looking forward to the fall and just feel like things are going to continue to progress.

And the wedding venue is really picking up. And they have this beautiful outdoor space too, with the ruins. And we have a pergola and there are several different areas that people can get married outdoors in a safe way. And the indoor spot is very big too. So you can really start to pick up some of these events and feel really good about how you’re doing it. And the customers feel good and so I think we all feel very optimistic about the fall and where we’re going from here so.

Georgiana Dearing 22:15:
What kind of flavors are you looking forward to? I mean the beer and fire and some food — that all sounds lovely. So what kind of flavors are you looking forward to using?

Sarah Tocco 22:25:
Sure, so I’ll definitely miss the abundance and the vibrancy of summer. I love being able to run outside to our gardens and pick all of the flowers and things. But I love fall flavors. So I am really looking forward to using pears coming up here in a couple of weeks as they come into harvest. Making a pear pizza with bacon jam, so add some brie on there, that is coming up in a few weeks. And this coming weekend we are doing a butternut squash.

Of course by the time this airs, it will have passed. But that’s — those are some of the ideas of making, like, a homemade orange ricotta with butternut squash and rosemary. And some — on a pizza and I don’t — I don’t, I am, like, one of those people who really doesn’t like a lot of pumpkin spice on everything. So I steer away from pumpkin spice on the menu. And I refused to put it on last year. But I am going to do a pumpkin hummus next weekend and just keep the spice part out of it and you know?

But I am doing some, I love those flavors and I love the smell of the fires burning. And we have this beautiful spot to really bring all of those flavors in or the smells and the beauty of it all. So yeah, local seasonal fall flavors I am really excited to be able to incorporate in the menu as much as possible.

Georgiana Dearing 23:43:
That sounds really great. You speak with such passion about what you do and I want to ask you a question, is there something growing up? Is there some connection to food or some food memory or something that kind of inspired you on the path that you are on now?

Sarah Tocco 24:00:
My mom always did everything from scratch. So growing up, I definitely came from a scratch kitchen. And I was the child that sat and watched her do everything, you know from making your homemade pie crust to cakes and things like that. And even my dad would do this one, you know, Mexican night. Or he had made these burritos and I would — and my childhood activity was crushing the cumin in the mortar and pestle.

So that was like some — you know the process of the all-day cooking I just loved. But I’ve also had just an amazing group of people that I’ve learned from. My best friend here is a chef and he used to work out of Clover Forest Plantation out in Gooseland. And I worked out there with him and got to work in the kitchen. And he is just not afraid of anything. You know his name is Will Birdsong and he would take me to all the restaurants in Richmond and just show me everything.

And I would taste all of these things I had never tried before. And it just really put this passion in me. And today, stil,l we are constantly just talking about food. That is our big connection, is with food. And then when I got hired at The Desserterie as an assistant pastry chef to the owner Chef Pierre, he taught me a whole different style of cooking because it wasn’t just cooking and flavor but the science behind it and the baking but also the artistry of decorating cakes and things.

But also he’s really disciplined and very specific in what he does. He’s this classically trained pastry chef from New York. And he just has a wealth of knowledge but every movement is on purpose, everything he does is with definition. And when I first started working for him I was this mess, you know? And like just put chocolate everywhere. And one of my first shifts, he actually had me sweep up flour and weigh it on the scale and he’s like, “Next time make it less,” you know?

And it really kind of trained me into being this really proficient worker in a really different kind of way than I was used to. And I have been in the restaurant industry for 27 years now, in every different capacity. But this was a whole new different way of training and it makes him sound like he was this beast. But he is really nice, the sweetest person you have ever met. And over years of working together, we fell in love and got married.

Georgiana Dearing 26:20:
I was just going to say, you are talking about your husband aren’t you? At some point — at some point he was nice.

Sarah Tocco 26:25:
Yeah, no he is always really nice. He just really wanted to teach me and I really wanted to learn. You know I was so dedicated to wanting to learn it. A year after our wedding, I went over to Mill full-time. So I had been working there part-time while I worked at The Dessertery as pastry chef, I was bartending at the Mill on the weekends. After I delivered wedding cakes and then I just kind of stay and bartend. But I moved over there full-time for a lot of reasons.

When you own your own place, it’s hard sometimes to support for — he owned it with his brother and his sister. And so I just needed to get a little bit more. And I ended up going to the mill full-time as a sous chef where I worked under Mark Henry, who is another chef, a career chef who just had so much to teach. And he is another guy that just has walked me through life in so many ways. He is this gruff but lovable guy who really took me under his wing and just really taught me so much.

And I have so much respect for him as a chef and as a person and he actually walked me through a lot of really — a lot of ups and downs of life, of parenting. He is a parent and so he is this wonderful model too and so combining all of my friends and my husband and just my experience as growing up. Yeah the passion of cooking and then being put up to the brewery was really my way of defining myself as a chef. Kind of combining the background of pastry and artistry.

Along with the coolness of just throwing flavors in and just whatever I had, it is like every weekend is like an episode of Chopped at the Brewery.’ It really is, it’s like, “You have this, do something with it.” And so it helped define me as a person and as a chef and I just love it. I love it. And I love the role, up there. And there’s been a lot of inspiring people. And Lisa, the owner of the Mill is just this person who is literally up at 5:30 in the morning and stays there until 10:00 at night.

And the whole place is her vision of beauty and everything. And so she’s been an inspiring person to watch as I have grown in my own self as a chef. And just her dedication and work ethic and just being around really great people.

Georgiana Dearing 28:34:
It seems like you’ve been given opportunity there, a bit, to find your legs and flavors, so.

Sarah Tocco 28:41:
Yes, absolutely. It was definitely a lot of growth and I have done a lot of roles at the Mill. So it has been a good ability to really expand myself, absolutely.

Georgiana Dearing 28:49:
Oh well, that's a great story. Thank you so much for sharing. This is great. I want to give people a chance to come taste your food. So can you tell people where to find you, like, your Instagram handles?

Sarah Tocco 29:05:
Yeah, absolutely. So my personal Instagram is @chef.sarah.tocco on Instagram. And then we have our Fine Creek Brewing Instagram as well as the Mill at Fine Creek and Fine Creek Provisions. And our assistant tapery manager and photographer extraordinaire, JJ is responsible for all of our social media and photography there. And she is so talented. One thing they have there is just an incredibly large amount of talented people for sure.

So she keeps it really up to date. So you can find us on Instagram there and then physically we’re found down Route 711 in Palatine. It is about eight and a half miles off 288. It is out in the country but it’s not that far away from people where it is too far away to go. So it’s a really lovely place to go and down at the Provision Shop, they have — my husband has sold The Desserterie and has moved over there full-time. So they’ve built a pastry kitchen on. And added him.

So he is there full-time and he can do specialty cakes and birthday cakes. And all of these European pastries that he does that are available down there. So definitely, it is a big place that you can come and visit and we’re actually in the process of getting the “Virginia is for Lovers,” the love sign out there as well. So that is all getting taken in right as COVID hits. So hopefully that will continue as we move forward and so it is a great destination place.

Georgiana Dearing 30:32:
Oh, it sounds wonderful. I think it sounds like a great road trip. And I know I am going to be down there in the fall because it just sounds excellent but I want to thank you for taking some time and sharing with us. And I am also going to ask maybe can I have you back another time because I know that there is a whole other side of your cooking that you’re doing. I watch you for the gluten-free stuff that you are doing in your home kitchen, which is another whole story.

And I know that you are working on your blog and your recipe posts and things like that. So I’d love to have you back sometime just to talk about that.

Sarah Tocco 31:06:
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Georgiana Dearing 31:08:
Good, you see, I got you on the spot now over on the air, so.

Sarah Tocco 31:12:
I am committed now.

Georgiana Dearing 31:13:
Anyway, thank you so much and I just look forward to just watching you grow more. Thank you so much.

Sarah Tocco 31:19:
Yeah, thank you so much for asking me to be on here. I really appreciate when you share our stuff and just seeing your name pop up in my inbox is really nice to finally see you face-to-face and hear you. Yeah, it’s been great to see you promoting our stuff. I really appreciate that.

Georgiana Dearing 31:36:
All right, well thank you. Bye-bye.

Sarah Tocco 31:38:

Georgiana Dearing 31:40:
Thanks for listening and if you want to learn more about how to grow your own food brand, then click on “grow my brand” at If you’re a lover of local food, then be sure to follow us. We are @vafoodie on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. Join the conversation and tell us about your adventures with good food, good people, and good brands.