On a recent morning in Bronxville, behind papered windows sporting building permits, Kate Brewster-Duffy finds herself surrounded by construction workers, tools and plenty of paperwork.
The tall, striking woman is again taking stock of what will soon become the home of Stillmeadow Gourmet.
“I want to be your one-stop shop for lunch — or dinner,” she says of the business she plans to open this month on Pondfield Road at Garden Avenue.
“This was always what I wanted to do. If you grew up in a suburb, there was always one of these in your town.”
Brewster-Duffy, who lives in Manhattan, has spent the last few months working on the venture. Its name, she shares, is a nod to her parents’ Stillmeadow Farm in Stonington, Conn., where she grew up.
After a few post-college years in marketing — not the best fit — Brewster-Duffy shifted gears.
“I decided to move to Paris for a year.”
There, she explored her love of food and cooking with studies at Le Cordon Bleu Paris, eventually returning to New York City where she spent the last few years as a sous chef and line cook.
Now, she’s about to step out on her own.
Prohibitive rents in Manhattan and the outer boroughs led to her looking beyond.
“We kind of drew a circle, and this was the first place I looked.”
With friends in the village, Brewster-Duffy knew Bronxville, loved the corner spot — and the spacious 2,000-square-foot interior that will house retail, seating and a most generous prep area.
“I’m going to do pirouettes in my kitchen,” she says, playfully acknowledging the luxury.
In Bronxville, Brewster-Duffy says there is “a need to be filled” — and thinks her offerings will connect.
“Everyone has a pretty sophisticated palate.”
The front of the shop will have retail goods, such as specialty olive oils, with “grab-and-go” selections to include salads, sandwiches and yogurt parfaits. She wants customers to feel at ease with the “design-your-own” salads, quinoa bowls and sandwiches, while having more hearty options for evenings.
Rotisserie chickens may end up becoming the shop’s signature offering.
“My rotisserie chicken program when I was in New York was really popular,” she says, noting this was something learned in Europe.
“I trained in France so my style leans toward southern France, northern Italy.”
She hesitates to call herself a French chef, though, saying she shies away from creams and heavy sauces.
“I have a lot of clean, bright flavors.”
Throughout, Brewster-Duffy says she will approach her ingredients thoughtfully.
“All my meat is hormone, antibiotic-free,” she says by example.
She has created a solid network of purveyors aided by her New York connections.
“My fish guy suggested a fish guy up here.”
While she will also offer coffees, teas, pastries and desserts, Brewster-Duffy says the focus will be “more food-oriented.”
Zoned for 12 seats, Brewster-Duffy says she’ll open with bar-style seating that may transform into small tables to accommodate patrons with small children.
Plans are to open daily, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. weekdays and closing a bit earlier on weekends.
Brewster-Duffy hopes word will spread. In addition to her website, she will be posting menu updates on both Facebook and Instagram to keep customers in the loop.
She says the quiet summer months will give her time to make any adjustments and is already looking beyond the start.
“As we get our feet under us, I do want to roll out catering,” she says. “We’d love to make your Thanksgivings, Christmases, Hanukkahs and Rosh Hashanahs easier.”
Throughout, her slogan reflects her straightforward approach — “Honest Provisions… Because Honestly, Who has Time?”
And these days, that slogan mirrors Brewster-Duffy’s life as she puts the finishing touches on the décor, working in collaboration with friend and local artist/photographer Taylor Dunn.
As Brewster-Duffy says, “I kind of want it to be very chic, ‘country kitchen’ … to look like the kitchen everybody wants.”
Finalizing the specials menus, hiring the staff and all the other little “wheels you don’t think about,” Brewster-Duffy is certainly wearing many hats.
“I am chef. I am manager. I am owner. Yes,” she says with a wry smile.
But it’s also a confident smile, one that lets you know she’s definitely up to the task.
For more, visit stillmeadowgourmet.com.