Root & Stem Becomes First Caterer to be REAL Verified

Root & Stem is excited to announce we have just become the first caterer ever to receive REAL Verification by the US Healthful Food Council marking the efforts we take to provide healthy, local, sustainable foods for all our clients.


We are also excited that our café at 2941 Fairview Park has received the certification as well.


A little information about REAL Verification from USHFC directly taken from their website www.eatreal.org


Responsible Epicurean and Agricultural Leadership (REAL) is a voluntary, points-based nutrition and sustainability best practices certification program established by the United States Healthful Food Council (USHFC).


REAL signifies wholesome, nutritious and sustainable. Developed with the input of experts in nutrition, health, sustainability, and behavioral economics, the REAL Index is the standard when it comes to recognizing restaurants that do right by you.


In order to achieve REAL Certification, each restaurant undergoes an extensive, third-party certification process that includes:

 •Menu Analysis

•On-site inspections and interviews

•Spot checks & Recipe Audits

•Sourcing and supply chain review


REAL certification signals to the public that the entire establishment — not just a few menu items — utilizes nutrition and sustainability best practices.


Check out Root & Stem’s profile

Sustainability, Quality and Local Support at Red Rooster Coffee Roaster


Here at Root and Stem, we have a commitment to working with top quality vendors for our food and drink, not only in terms of taste, but also in quality and environmental friendliness. By ordering from Red Rooster Coffee Roaster in Floyd, VA, we are ensuring a commitment to quality through serving their organic, tasty local coffee that has been grown, roasted, and packaged while considering sustainability, health, and the funding of local businesses. Haden Polseno-Hensley and his fellow co-founders at Red Rooster Coffee Roaster dedicate themselves to their logo, “coffee with a conscience,” in even the smallest details of their business.


Haden co-founded the company in 2010 with his wife Rose with another couple they’d grown up with in Floyd. He said the team has been a perfect fit for the coffee roasting business. His wife ran a coffee shop in Floyd for eight years. Their co-owners Benjie and Rebecca Osborne brought woodworking and building skills, along with an MBA to the business creation process.  


“We’ve worked really hard to make sure our business is as sustainable as possible. Besides the quality of our product, the sustainability question is the thing that weighs heaviest on our minds,” explains Haden.  Haden says the knowledge that farmers who cultivate and pick his coffee do not risk exposure to dangerous pesticides by growing 100 % organic coffee helps him sleep at night.


“We also buy Fair Trade coffee whenever possible to ensure that the people in the supply chain are paid a living wage, while using bio-degradable bags for all of our bulk coffee deliveries. Also, all of our bags are printed by hand using water-based eco-friendly inks,” says Haden.


According to Haden, the majority of their customers appreciate their well-crafted product and attention to detail and quality. They have a lot of local support in Floyd and from people in Virginia and who to buy locally crafted products and care about quality.


Taking care of the community through utilizing local creativity is a core company value of Red Rooster Coffee Roaster. Local artists print bags by hand, and Haden says they are proud of knowing they can pay someone who lives close to the store to work for them. Haden emphasizes his company’s focus on quality and dedication to the craft of roasting coffee, and says that he views roasting coffee as half science and half art.


Beyond coffee and collaboration with the local Starr Hill Brewery, a local potter in Floyd creates a line of handmade mugs for Red Rooster Coffee Roaster. The company also carries a lot of manual coffee brewers and is in collaboration with a local organic farm to grow herbs and dry them so Red Rooster Coffee Roasters can offer a limited line of certified organic tea.


Red Rooster Coffee Roaster began among four friends with minimal expense and a lot of unique artisan touches. As the business has continued to grow, the owners stayed true and committed to the original vision.   


“Our products are always handmade, always artisanal, always a labor of love,” says Haden.  

Root & Stem Earns 3 Stars from the Green Restaurant Association



As part of reaching the goal to become as environmentally friendly as possible, the staff here at Root and Stem worked closely with the Green Restaurant Association (GRA) over the last several months to become designated as a green restaurant and catering company.  We are very excited and honored that the GRA awarded us the top rating designated for greens restaurants on their rating system.   


The GRA is a nationally known non-profit organization in Boston that offers convenient and affordable measures for companies to become more environmentally sustainable in their practices.


In order to earn the stars in environmental efficiency, restaurants must earn points in the following seven categories; water efficiency, water reduction and recycling, sustainable furnishings and building materials, sustainable food, energy, disposables, and chemical and pollution reduction. The GRA worked closely with us to become more efficient in all areas.  Craig Currie, one of our co-founders, says he decided to have the company go through the process as part of their mission to statement to provide Washington DC area clients with local, seasonal foods in an environmentally responsible manner with flawless service.


Since starting Root and Stem a little over a year ago, we have had a commitment to sourcing locally grown produce and humanely raised animals, along with implementing a recycling program, using eco-friendly disposables and printing materials.


Taking these steps from day one made the process of earning three stars as a certified green restaurant much more efficient for us. Because of our intention from day one to be as environmentally efficient as possible, we only had to make some small changes to meet the GRA’s criteria- like changing all the water faucets in the kitchen. Craig is also confident that the investment to earn certification as a green restaurant will pay off in the long run as clients become more environmentally aware. Being awarded three green stars from the Green Restaurant Association serves as an important step towards our goal of becoming the premier Washington DC area green catering business.


Courtney Hall Gagnon

Interview With Tuscarora Organic Growers Coop, Meet Our Suppliers

Root and Stem aims to serve top notch and local crops to their catering customers as a part of their sustainability practices. Staff members at a food distributor like Tuscarora Organic Growers (TOG) help Root and Stem in meeting that goal by providing top quality produce to serve catering customers.  Jeff Taylor, the General Manager at TOG, has played a fundamental function in helping Root and Stem satisfy their customers’ taste for local produce since May of 2012.

While Jeff became introduced to the agriculture world through fish farming for several years, a desire to break into local farming and a burgeoning lamb business on the side brought him to TOG five years ago.

Jeff emphasizes that an important part of TOG involves developing the most value for their grower’s produce. In turn, TOG works with their family farms growers to help them maximize their return. Jeff says they want to have the most diverse offering of produce possible for their customer, so they help coordinator production among their growers to ensure a varied crop selection. And even though TOG has four dozen member growers contributing to their production, they work hard to maintain quality standards between the farms. Even during this chilly time of year, Jeff says that TOG has plenty to offer. Baby greens are grown in greenhouses during the winter and TOG distributes a variety of root vegetables as well.

According to Jeff, TOG’s priority is ensuring customer satisfaction and maintaining top produce standards ensures their happiness with their food. This commitment to top quality produce and high standards continues to ensure Root and Stem’s ability to serve only the most delicious dishes to their clients.

TOG was recently featured in Growing Magazine about their commitment to locally grown, organic foods http://www.growingmagazine.com/article-8682.aspx

By Courtney Hall Gagnon

Root & Stem Featured on District Weddings Blog

Thank you to Kristin Andrews at District Weddings for featuring Root & Stem Catering


Root and Stem Catering loves foodies. If you want nothing more than a delicious, seasonal, local meal for your affair, look no further than the catering company started by a couple of foodies themselves. Craig Currie of Root and Stem tells us about his favorite dishes and his food philosophy:


How did Root and Stem Catering get it’s start, and What is your food philosophy?


Root & Stem opened in January of 2011 when Zac Culbertson & I decided to really combine our talents and years of experience. Root & Stem’s philosophy surrounds great, seasonal Mid Atlantic foods. We are food forward, but work completely with each & every client to get them the event that they are looking for and dreaming of. We are also very conscious of our environment and are certified green company that sources all products from responsible vendors only. We really feel catered food gets a bad rap for being “rubbery chicken” or bland & tasteless. We are both foodies at heart and don’t want any couple to sacrifice flavor at their wedding unnecessarily.


About how far in advance do you recommend couples start planning a menu?


The actual menu planning, I don’t like to put any pressure on the clients to get that done. We are a local, seasonal catering company so for us to push our clients in Winter to make selections for late August it might not be ideal for them. Of course, we do recommend advance planning for choosing a location, caterer and the major details, but the menu can be done at the clients discretion. Each couple is different and we respect that and will work to what they want. I remember a client that we did a 5 course menu where guests could pick a craft beer pairing or wine pairing. This type of menu needs some time to plan in advance. But not every wedding is or needs to be that, so there is no hard fast rule in my book. Each bride I have dealt with is juggling so many other things, not just in their wedding, but in their lives that I try not to stress them out with making menu decisions that far in advance. On the other hand, I would make sure we have a final menu planned at least a month out.


What is your favorite entree produced by Root and Stem?


This changes often, but since we served it New Year’s Eve at an event it’s fresh in my mind. Butter Poached Maine Lobster served on Sweet Potato, Leek & Swiss Chard Bread Pudding with Vanilla Buerre Blanc.


We break the lobster down and separate the tail and claw meat. We sous vide them separately because the claw meat needs a longer cooking time at a higher temperature for best results. Cooking them sous vide in butter allows for a perfectly cooked lobster dish and we serve it over a rich, savory bread pudding with fall & winter flavor. The leeks, sweet potatoes, swiss chard, cream and butter are all local and organic. The brioche is made in house, also with organic ingredients. The sauce brings out the lobster & sweet potato flavors and the whole dish is finished with some mâche leaves.


What is your favorite winter seasonal food?


Winter is always a time for warming comfort dishes. Slow braised meats like short ribs or pork shoulder are made for this time of year. My favorite dish we do in the Winter now is a Duck Cassoulet. We use a lot of different duck for this, we use an all-natural smoked duck bacon, organic duck sausage, duck leg confit and we also crisp up some duck skins for cracklings. The duck is slowly simmered with cranberry bean, gigante beans, onions, leeks, carrots, turnips, herbs and red wine for hours. Then we top it with a golden brown puff pastry dome and some of those duck skin cracklings. It is a dish that is comforting, but really refined as well.

January Seasonal Menu
Craig, Thank you very much for everything. We could not have been more happier and pleased, especially President Callahan and I. (more…)
Zac:  Many compliments yesterday and today about the food..  Also wanted to let you know that practically everyone raved about week’s fried chicken!  It was a big hit!
A quick note during the break to let you know how many people just came out of the working lunch raving about the food.  They said this is by far the best lunch they have ever had at one of these things.  Way to go!
Good Morning Craig and Zac! I Love this!!  I knew you guys were different the first time I tasted your food! I personally believe in “eating in season” and working with local farmers and suppliers! Not that you are interested in this but, being the foodie that I am, I support local Farmers and sustainable fish and the concept of meats being properly handled! (more…)
Craig, Thank you very much for everything. We could not have been more happier and pleased, especially President Callahan and I.