the benefits of a local food business

10 DELICIOUS YEARS OF FEAST!

Feast is a specialty food store and café located in the Main Street Market at 416 West Main Street in Charlottesville. It is locally owned and operated by couple, Kate Collier and Eric Gertner. This year Feast! celebrates 10 delicious years in business thanks to the support from its customers.

Contact info: Kate Collier – kate@feastvirginia.com – 434-953-8817

HOW MUCH FEAST HAS GROWN:

Over the years the support of Charlottesville has enabled Feast to expand to three times its original size. Today, Feast offers over 70 handmade cheeses and over 35 all natural, sliced-to-order meats at the full-service deli counter. Feast’s signature olive oils and specialty vinegars are a staple in kitchens locally and nation-wide.  Their produce and wine selection highlights the work of the best farmers in Central Virginia. Feast’s casual café is a regular lunch destination for those seeking a quick, tasty and healthy meal.

“Charlottesville benefits from Feast! The store offers a variety of specialty foods that you would find in a larger city but with a small, home town atmosphere and a knowledgeable, friendly staff.” – Bob Hughes, Realtor, Nest Realty

NATIONAL RECOGNITION:

Feast’s food selection has been praised by national publications including Saveur, Southern Living and Wine Enthusiast magazines as well as The New York Times and the Washington Post.

“Feast, an artisanal cheese shop, charcuterie and gourmet market that could easily be found in Paris.” – New York Times – 2008

THE FEAST MISSION & METRICS:

Feast was opened ten years ago with the mission to offer Feast! customers the best in service and quality. To be a vital and responsible business — independently owned and operated — that is a viable alternative to huge, corporate groceries and that develops the unique character and economic advantages that independently owned businesses offer to the community.

Below are some metrics are the result of our mission driven business:
Pounds of artisan cheese sold – over 100,000
Legs of prosciutto sliced to perfection – 1,000 ( this is over 15,000 pounds)
Number of customers serviced –  750,000
Gift boxes delivered – 10,000
Bottles of wine sold – 65,000 (20,000 produced in Virginia)
Party platters served  – 5,000
Food lovers employed – 126
Money to Virginia based businesses through purtchasing – over 5 million dollars
Donated to area schools and non-profit organizations – over $50,000 dollars worth of food and cash

THE PEOPLE OF FEAST:

Over ten years, Feast has employed 126 food lovers, many of whom have taken what they learned at the shop and have gone on to make positive impacts in the greater food world. Feast alumni are spread across the US. They are recipe testers for national magazines. They are nutritionists at schools, chefs, restaurant owners, cheese makers and wine brokers. They are non-profit local food system developers and artists inspired by the beauty of food.

“The two years I spent working at Feast changed my relationship with food. I had always loved/been obsessed with it. But at Feast, under the tutelage of passionate bosses who soon became dear friends, Kate and Eric, I learned that food was more than just delicious to eat. It had stories, histories even. I learned to love and passionately advocate for local ingredients where they are available. The growers and producers of these products became real people, who cared about what they were producing. I’ve been away from Charlottesville for 5 years now and I still miss it, but I carry what I learned from feast with me every time I pick up my CSA share or explain to one of my wine clients why small production wines are far superior to mass produced ones. Thanks, Feast family and congratulations!” – Alexandra Palermo Holt (former Feast cheesemonger)

FEAST CONTRIBUTES TO THE COMMUNITY:

Feast has contributed over $50,000 in money and food to local causes including school auctions, UVA Children’s Hospital, the Boys & Girls Club, the Paramount, National Public Radio, Buy Fresh, Buy Local, the Local Food Hub and many more.

“I wanted to say thank you again for contributing such wonderful treats for the opening day of our Met season. We proudly displayed the beautiful Cheese, Meat, Fruit and Nut boards. We received many comments on how nice everything looked but more importantly how good everything tasted. It was a hit!” – Jason King, The Paramount Theater, Donor Relations Manager

FEAST KEEPS MONEY IN THE LOCAL ECONOMY:

Since the beginning, Kate and Eric believed in the value of buying local first and as a result Feast has purchased over $5 million dollars from Virginia-based businesses.

“One of the pleasures of my job is making deliveries to Feast! After a warm welcome at the delivery door, I stroll the store. They market our chutneys better than we do! One chat, check and sandwich later I leave the store refreshed and inspired. Feast deserves their exclamation mark!” – Oliver Turner, Owner of Virginia Chutney Company.

 KATE COLLIER BIO:

Kate grew up on a farm in Fauquier County in a food entrepreneurial family. Her mother started a shortbread and chocolate making business on their farm in 1984, turning a former machine shed on the farm into a bakery.  Her father started a seasonally inspired restaurant in their hometown of Marshall at the same time. Kate grew up at the restaurant and representing the bakery, Hunt Country Foods, at national food shows. Kate graduated from UVA in 1994 where she studied history and sociology. In the evenings she cooked and waitressed in Cville, working at the now closed but infamous restaurants Main Street Grill and Northern Exposure. After college, Kate moved to San Francisco and worked for specialty food distributors selling to the best restaurants and groceries in the Bay Area and Napa. Through her work, she learned food pairing skills from star chefs Judy Rodgers (Zuni), Arnold Wong (EOS) and Traci Des Jardin (Jardinaire, Top Chef Masters). Her customers also included Alice Waters – Chez Panisse and Thomas Keller -The French Laundry. She learned about cheese from her mentors Jim Mellgren (Dean & Deluca, Gourmet Retailer) and Steve Jenkins (author of the Cheese Primer and executive at Fairway Market in NYC).

Kate left the Bay Area in 2001 to visit specialty food producing families in France, Spain and Italy.  This three month trip with 1993 UVA Alum and chef Sarah Mastracco (now the chef on the Martha Stewart Show) gave her the inspiration she needed to develop a business plan for a store that incorporated all the best components of shops she visited.

In March of 2001, Kate moved back to Cville to work on the plan for Feast!  Her former housemate, Charlottesville native and 1992 UVA Alum, Bo Yancey, helped her with the financial part of the business plan. Her good friend and caterer, Dee Pietsch, gave her wise advice and an inspiring place to live across from Mint Springs Park in Crozet. Her high school friend, Suzannah Kerr, brought organization to the madness of creativity and signed on as Feast’s founding manager.

ERIC GERTNER BIO:

Eric grew up in Eau Claire, WI in America’s Dairyland. His mother was an avid food advocate and led her family in growing ever-larger gardens and putting up fruits and vegetables in the cellar for the long, cold winters. The family made regular junkets to area farms to purchase chickens and sides of beef and pork, and enjoyed farm fresh duck, goose and lovingly raised
produce from his grandparent’s farm in Minnesota, where Eric spent large spans of time on their diversified farm with his many cousins driving tractors, bailing hay, walking beans, detasseling corn, picking rocks, feeding animals and milking cows. At that point he was sure he would be a
farmer.

At age 8, Eric bought his first enterprise, an afternoon paper route with 80 customers. The income allowed him to secure his first bank loan at age nine for $625, used to buy a drumset. That same year he got clearance to start a school store at his elementary school selling school supplies to class mates. These experiences provided fundamentals at an early age. At age 10,
Eric became an integral part of his father’s fledging real estate business as a second set of hands for all manner of building maintenance and rehabilitation. At age 15, Eric began working in a series of restaurants, grocery stores and a small cheese shop.

Throughout, his love was music, which brought him to Wesleyan University in Connecticut. Upon graduation, Eric continued to pursue music in Ghana West Africa, Portland, Oregon and Brazil. In 1998 his travels brought him to Charlottesville, Virginia. While music remains a great love, his strong interest in food and farming — and propensity to design, make and fix things — found a perfect match in building a food business from the ground up with his true love, Kate.

 A RECIPE FOR ROMANCE:

At a Cinco de Mayo party in 2001, Kate met Eric Gertner. He offered her a ride on his motorcycle. They went to Lynchburg, got caught in a rainstorm and Eric took Kate to his cabin in Free Union to dry off and eat.  He hadn’t planned on a guest so he served her what he had – smoked oysters, mustard, salami, pickles, crackers and parmigiano cheese.  By the end of the meal a special connection was clear.

Together, in the Summer of 2001, Kate and Eric travelled the Virginia countryside in his 1984 Vanagon in search of fixtures, farmers and food artisans that would be the highlights of Feast!  They designed the shop around artistic pieces like the center table made by Kate’s brother, Alexander Collier, and the vineyard-scape steel panels made by friend and artist, Sarah Chaffin. Eric constructed the shelving, Suzannah picked the wall colors and Kate selected the products. Feast is a collaboration of friendship, love, community and creativity.

THE 10YEAR CELEBRATION:

On Saturday, March 31st, Kate, Eric and the Feast team thanked the community for their support and celebrated the 10th Anniversary of Feast! with an in-store, family-friendly extravaganza of tastings, giveaways and special guests. More than 1,000 fans of feast packed the shop to share in the celebration.

More than 50 children started the morning with a free tasting of healthy lunch foods. Their favorites included: hard boiled quail eggs, local monastery gouda and greek goodess dressing with veggies.

Adults enjoyed sampling hard apple cider made by Diane Flynt at Foggy Ridge and exquisite goat cheeses made by Gail Hobbs-Page at Caromont Farm.

The afternoon culminated with a Virginia Sparkling wine tasting hosted by Pamela Margeaux and Claude Thibaut, gypsy jazz played by local musicians Rick Oliverez and Jeff Cheers and a lavish feast-style food spread.

Notes from the party guest book:

“We love your store! Our Tour guests love your cheese. Our B&B guests love your cheese and sausage. So glad you are here!” – Erika Goodell, Arcady Vineyard B&B and Wine Tours

“I love this store. I got all of my birthday and Christmas gifts here! Keep bringing the tasty & local food.” – Monica

“Feast is the best of Charlottesville because it shows the best of Charlottesville.”- Greg V.

“Feast is one of the treasures of Charlottesville. I love the selection of food and the inviting atmosphere!” – Katherine M.

“Thank you so much for hosting the children’s food tasting event! We will be back for more quail eggs!” – Jeanne-Marie Peterson
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