Backyard Farms Launches Regional Chef Network

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New England’s largest year-round grower of tomatoes partners with premier local chefs to deliver delicious tomato inspired recipes

Maine based tomato grower Backyard Farms today announced a new partnership with a select group of premier New England chefs. The Backyard Farms Chef Network will collaborate with Backyard Farms to develop a lineup of original tomato centric recipes and will incorporate the company’s tomatoes into a range of dishes at their respective restaurants from Maine to Massachusetts.

The new Backyard Farms chef network includes:
·    Lise Desrochers from the College of the Atlantic
·    Cheryl Lewis from El Rayo Taqueria
·    Carla and Christine Pallotta from Nebo Cucina & Enoteca
·    Michael Serpa from Neptune Oyster
·    Executive Chef Richard Rayment from the Seaport Hotel & Seaport World Trade Center
·    Shannon Bard from Zapoteca

“We’re fortunate to welcome this top notch roster of New England chefs into the Backyard Farms community,” said Tim Cunniff, EVP of Sales and Marketing. “Not many growers are able to say they have a group like this collaborating with them. We look forward to enjoying their inspiring new dishes featuring our fresh-off-the-vine tomatoes, and to sharing their recipes and tips with our loyal and passionate Backyard Farms fans throughout the year. We’re hoping this program will get existing customers to enjoy our tomatoes in new ways and excite others into trying them for the first time.”

Backyard Farms will kick off its Chef Network with a “state of the tomato” summit, hosting all chefs at its Madison greenhouse. These premier chefs will connect directly with the company’s gardeners and have the opportunity to experience firsthand all that goes into growing Backyard Farm’s delicious, quality tomatoes to provide greater perspective in helping them develop their original recipes. Tomato tips and recipes developed by the new Backyard Farms Chef Network will be featured on the company’s website and social media pages.

"I am committed to using local ingredients at both of our restaurants, so I was very pleased to be chosen to participate in this program," said Chef Shannon Bard of Zapoteca. "It will be a joy to work with these delicious locally grown tomatoes to create new recipes with an authentic Mexican flair."

About Backyard Farms
Backyard Farms operates 42-acres of greenhouse growing space in Madison, Maine that provides the Northeast with fresh, locally grown Backyard Farms tomatoes year round. The company has based its business on the principles of taking care of its employees, giving back to local communities and treating the earth with respect. Backyard Farms tomatoes are left on the vine to ripen and shipped within just a day of harvest, creating a tomato that is sweet and bursting with flavor. For more information about Backyard Farms please visit its website at or visit our Facebook page at

About Backyard Farms Chef Network

Michael Serpa | Neptune Oyster | Boston, MA
Michael Serpa was born into a family of Cuban cooks and chefs. His father, two uncles, and grandfather are all chefs so it seems to run in their blood. Michael began cooking at 13 in his dad’s restaurant in Miami during summer vacations from school. During high school he worked part time after class as a line cook. After landing an externship at Todd English’s Olives in NYC, Michael worked as sous chef at Olives in Charlestown. In July of 2008 he took a sous chef job at Neptune Oyster, and in April 2009 Michael was promoted to Executive Chef at Neptune where he’s been since.

Carla and Christine Pallotta | Nebo | Boston, MA
Carla and Christine were born and raised in the North End, Boston’s very own Little Italy, in a home where food was the focal point of everything. Nebo has been a runaway success since its doors opened in 2005. What makes it so universally loved by everyone from neighborhood old-timers to chic Bostonians, celebrities, players from the Celtics and generation-next neo-North Enders is that feeling of realness. It’s the unmistakable bite of the hand-rolled pasta. It’s the Sunday Gravy that, as one reviewer said, “only Italian mammas know how to make.” And most of all, it’s Carla and Christine.

Shannon Bard | Zapoteca Restaurant | Portland, ME
Shannon Bard is an innovative chef of two highly regarded restaurants, as well as a wife and mother of four. She has been honored with numerous awards, including “Best of New Hampshire”, New Hampshire Magazine and “Top Of The Crop Best Farm To Table Restaurant” Finalist, Portland Harvest On The Harbor. She recently cooked at the James Beard House in New York City, and made her national television debut on the new television series “Beat Bobby Flay” on the Food Network. Her work has been featured in publications such as Bon Appetit, Food Network Magazine, Maine Magazine, DownEast, and Portland Magazine. She is a guest cooking instructor at Stonewall Kitchen and an avid philanthropist, donating her time regularly to Share Our Strength, Maine March of Dimes and Good Shepherd Food Bank.

Cheryl Lewis | El Rayo Taqueria | Portland, ME
Chef Lewis has been stove-side in Maine since 1985. In this time, she owned and operated the renowned Café Always from 1985-1995, one of Portland’s leading fine dining restaurants. In 1997 she opened Aurora Provisions, one of the first specialty food stores with chef-prepared gourmet meals for take out. Lewis was the Executive Chef at the Stonewall Kitchen restaurant when it opened in York in 2003. In 2007 she was the Executive Chef at Black Point Inn for the relaunching of its two restaurants. Her latest projects are the day-to-day operations of El Rayo Taqueria in Portland and the development of a new El Rayo Taqueria in Scarborough.

Richard Rayment | Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center | Boston, MA
A native of London, England, Chef Richard Rayment’s career has taken him around the world and yet, he continues to return to Boston. Chef Rayment has worked at many renowned restaurants and hotels including onboard a luxury liner in the P & O Cruise Line fleet; the Four Diamond, Four Star Royal Westminster Hotel in London; the Fairmont Hamilton Princess in Bermuda; and the St. James’s Club in London. He worked for Ritz-Carlton Hotels for many years at both the San Francisco and Boston flagship property.

Lise Desrochers | College of the Atlantic | Bar Harbor, ME
Lise Desrochers was raised in Southern Maine and grew up working in the family restaurant. She has cooked professionally in Bar Harbor, Maine for over 20 years, serving as Co-Director of Food Service at College of the Atlantic. COA is perennially ranked in the top 10 for best college food in the United States by the Princeton Review. She also works as a private chef in Maine and California and is the author of 2 cookbooks. She loves farmer’s markets and hugging trees.

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