COOK-November + December 2010
By Annemarie Ahearn
Photography by Kari Herer
Its rare that a caterer provides as thoughtful and artful cuisine as Stacey Glassman. Her brand, Swans Way, once a restaurant and now a catering company, has been doing that for over thirty years.
I first heard about Stacey Glassman through her many fansthe organizer of the Farnsworth Gala, a recent bride, a food writer and photographer, a dear friend who has worked for her for many yearsall of whom agreed that shes simply the best. Her care for food, her locally sourced vegetables, her exquisite garnishes and floral arrangements, and her professionalism and kindness were all spoken of with adoration. Yet it wasnt until I finally met her that I fully understood just how dynamic a woman she truly is.
Anastasia Glassmans parents lived in Florence for eighteen years. Her father was a shoe designer and a gastronome known to drive up to three hours for a good meal. His love for food became hers. As a child, Stacey spent summers in Maine and fondly remembers buying local corn on the side of the road and picking blueberries at the peak of their season. From the start of her career, ingredients were what inspired her to cook. Local is nothing new, Glassman says in reference to the resurgence of sustainable eating initiatives across the country.
In the 1980s, Glassman opened Swans Way in Camden, a restaurant that set a new standard for dining on the midcoast. She had a knack for dessert making, and people would travel many miles for her famous raspberry roller. When asked why she got into catering, she says, With a restaurant, you have to be perfect seven days a week, but with catering you only need to be perfect on the weekend.
Glassman transformed Swans Way into a catering company based out of her home. The success of the enterprise is evident in her full-time staff, extensive commercial kitchen, busy office, and winding cellar packed with beautiful baskets, wooden cutting boards, and imported Italian platters. A garden that wraps around her house is yet another labor of love, with perennial herbs, brightly colored vegetables, exotic plants, and established fruit trees. What she doesnt grow in her expansive working garden, she gets from Village Farm in Freedom and Dilly Dally Farm in Dixmont. Glassman does anywhere from thirty-five to fifty events a year, and works forty-hour weeks during the winter and eighty-hour weeks in the summer.
In addition to the catering business, she has also created a new brand of fanciful ice-cream sandwiches, called Dolcelinos, which are made with two homemade cookies and a cold mousse center made from 100% natural Maine milk. There are four unique flavors: Coco-Aztec (chocolate cookies with cinnamon and chili ice cream), Ginger-Lemon (cookies made from crystallized ginger and molasses), Coco-Chocolat, and Coco-Coffee.
Ive also heard many people refer to Glassman as an artist. Not only because she is, in fact, an artist (her mediums is metal) but because her presentation of foodfrom the root structure of a plant floating in a glass bowl to the red okra she grows because it cracks her up visuallyis what makes her work memorable.
Squash with Olive Oil and Garlic
1 whole buttercup squash
1 head of garlic
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Place a whole buttercup squash on a cookie sheet. Take a head of garlic, cut the top tips off, and place on a piece of aluminum foil. Drizzle olive oil on top. Wrap foil around the clove and put it on the cookie sheet. Place the squash and the garlic in the oven and walk away.
3. In 30 minutes or so, come back and take the garlic out, if soft. In an hour, take the squash out, if very soft. Prick with a metal skewer to test. Cut the squash in half, remove the seeds, and put the soft flesh in a bowl. Add the roasted cloves of garlic to the squash, along with a little olive oil, and mash until the consistency is uniform. Add salt and pepper to taste.