FARMINGTON — “Lights, camera, action” are words spoken during filming — words which are now familiar to a team of employees at Homestead Kitchen, Bar & Bakery in Farmington.
As though providing meals, entertainment and catering functions was not enough to undertake, the Homestead staff is challenging themselves to show diners how their meals are made by creating videos of the process.
“We wanted to tell the story about what is going on behind our kitchen doors, and show all of the creativity, passion and hard work that goes into creating our food,” owner Laurie Danforth said.
A newsletter, Homesteader Weekly, created in-house and emailed to 500 customers, started with photos of food along with a listing of weekly specials, she said. Now, the newsletter carries a YouTube video showing Executive Chef Nick Bickford creating one of the dishes.
“We put together a team of five people with different skill sets, set up our own photo studio and eventually launched our video series,” Danforth said.
Food photographer Natalie White, videographer Jacob Michaud, marketing and design specialist Melissa Gerard, Danforth and Bickford make up the team.
They started with photo shoots but then purchased some equipment and lights, she said.
With a creative eye for backdrops and staging, along with a little self-training, Gerard helped them create videos. Then Michaud, a University of Maine at Farmington freshman and restaurant employee, shared his three years experience as a videographer, she said.
Michaud helped them learn to create a storyboard to plan what shots and when. He brought a lot to the table helping them begin pre-production, production and post-production work, she said.
The videos started last October but the team wanted to create a library of videos before launching. There are about 10 videos available. Recent newsletters have shown Bickford’s hands making dishes such as brick chicken, beef ale pie, chicken flatbread and smoked ricotta toast.
While many businesses now diversify to increase or maintain business, the Homestead team and all 43 employees have taken on the newest project as a challenge.
“It keeps things growing and interesting,” Danforth said. “The whole idea was founded on creativity and bringing in your skills. Bickford is always challenging himself and the team.”
There is also a good kitchen crew — people who are full of enthusiasm and support — to make the dishes the way he said. They are also encouraged and challenged to add their thoughts, Danforth said.
Bickford likes the transparency of it.
“This is what we do,” he said. “We want to let people know what we’re doing and how much care, thought, passion and flavor we are putting in to it.”
Bickford has worked at the Homestead for eight years but now his position is to create new dishes and menus, including healthy dishes.
“Things we are proud to serve and know are right,” he said.
There is a strong emphasis on local foods. Chicken raised in New Sharon and vegetables grown by local farmers. The restaurant cannot keep local beef in stock, he said.
“We are inspired by the Earth, its bounty and the people who put their heart and soul into growing vegetables and caring for animals,” Bickford said. “We try to honor those elements in the product we provide to those who walk through our front door.” He said he enjoys doing research about food.
Bickford brings with him tremendous passion, skill and commitment to the highest quality, Danforth said.
“Often we are taking foods that are already known and adding a new twist to keep things interesting and fresh,” she said.
The team is not worried about giving their recipes away — they want people to see how their dinner is made, and also increase the number of hits to the restaurant’s website.
The team believes the video may inspire people to think about going out to dinner, which may also bring in business, she said.
While the short video shows the steps and ingredients, there can still be a number of somewhat complicated steps to creating the dish, she said, some of which can be time-consuming.
The next challenge is to add voice to the videos, she said.
To have the newsletter emailed, contact the Homestead or sign up on its website, homesteadbakery.com.
Homestead Kitchen, Bar & Bakery owner Laurie Danforth and Executive Chef Nick Bickford created a team of employees to photo and video dishes made at the Farmington restaurant.
Natalie White considers the best shot of a brick chicken dish surrounded by lights and backdrop at the Homestead Kitchen, Bar & Bakery in Farmington.
Homestead Kitchen, Bar & Bakery is now producing weekly videos of dishes made by Executive Chef Nick Bickford. This one for brick chicken features chicken raised by Pine Tree Poultry in New Sharon. The chicken breast is topped with blood orange molasses and served with confit fingerling potatoes, pumpkin seeds and almond romesco sauce, crumbled cotija cheese and grilled broccolini.
Homestead Kitchen, Bar & Bakery Executive Chef Nick Bickford creates dishes “we are proud to serve and know are right,” he said. The meals feature locally grown meat and vegetables.