From the renowned Culinary Institute of America to respected restaurant kitchens here and abroad, Chef Rusty Bowers turned his childhood fascination with food into an accomplished and successful culinary career.
“I rose up the ranks in fine dining establishments, where we were producing beautiful plates with fancy, imported ingredients. Fine dining was very formal back then, the food philosophy was very technique-driven. I enjoyed mastering the skills, but there was something missing. I remembered my time in Europe, the people were so much more connected to their food (often buying it fresh from the farmer, or from a local butcher that still practiced the time-honored traditions of whole-animal butchery). The food was more rustic, the fresh flavors really spoke for themselves.”
Bowers noticed that this connection with food resulted in people being more connected with each other, their families, their community. They shared more than just meals, they shared a philosophy about what’s important in life; treating animals humanely, practicing healthy, sustainable farming methods, and reducing food waste by finding ways to enjoy every piece of meat from the animal. “It’s a philosophy that honors the past and protects the future. It’s a more meaningful way to live. That’s what was missing.”
Bowers was so convinced that this new-found passion for old-world methods would prove popular in the US, he decided to build his future around it. After trading his Chef coat for a butcher’s apron, he founded Pine Street Market, where he specializes in handcrafted charcuterie, artisan sausages and a variety of fresh cuts.
“Pine Street is my platform for reconnecting people with real, honest food” Bowers explains. “It’s as much about educating them as it is feeding them. When they learn about our local farmers and how they raise the animals, or when tasting the delicacies we make from the lesser-known cuts, it’s like a lightbulb goes off. First, they realize they prefer the quality, then they realize they’re not alone. We’re part of a rapidly growing community that wants to live in a more meaningful way, starting with our food choices.”
The growing community means growth for Bowers, too. In 2018, building on a 10 year relationship, he collaborated with local farmers, Charlotte and Wes Swancy of Riverview farms, to open to Chop Shop, a Community Market that celebrates local farms and artisan food products.
Chop Shop is truly a community market for anyone that cares about where their food comes from and how it’s raised. It’s a place where you can ask questions, watch a butchery demonstration or take a class in sausage making… or smoking on the Big Green Egg. In addition to offering a wide variety of local, craft makers’ food products, Chop Shop will soon be adding prepared foods as well. Bowers sums up his vision “Chop Shop is going to be a community gathering spot, a place where you can find the best food and the best people, together.”