Dawn Leahy is the new Cooking School Director at The Silo at Hunt Farm with decades of culinary experience and world travel. Building on the mission of The Silo at Hunt Farm, Dawn looks forward to bringing back the spirit of founders Skitch and Ruth Henderson, who started The Silo at Hunt Farm in 1968, well before anyone ever thought about a television station devoted entirely to food. The result is a celebrated cooking school, art gallery, museum and kitchen store. It was a destination place in its heyday and still has devoted followers and guest chefs.
Dawn’s goal is to recreate the dynamic, forward thinking environment of the early years at The Silo. Her goal is to find trailblazers in all aspects of lifestyle to come to The Silo to teach classes not only in cooking, but making amazing drinks, food writing, creating beautiful centerpieces and table settings. She would like to start a book club featuring memoirs with recipes in which the club members read, discuss and cook around the book. The Silo also teaches team-building corporate classes.
Dawn has a long history in food service starting as a waitress and then volunteering to move up to entry level kitchen positions. Eventually she took a course at the New School to see what she didn’t know and found the butchery course most helpful. Moving on, she catered for ten years before becoming a chef on private yachts. Over the next ten years, Dawn traveled to 40 countries, working on one yacht for seven years.
I asked her what impact this exposure had on her cooking. Of course, the owners wanted to eat local and that meant becoming very creative in sussing out recipes and ingredients. She loved the experience of visiting the local markets in search of specific ingredients and asking for advice on how to prepare native dishes. The internet was not readily available in general and in some countries nonexistent. When the local markets failed her, she scoured neighborhoods looking at the local vegetation and knocking on doors to see if she could purchase the needed item.
One experience in particular stays with her. They frequently caught fish off the boat for meals. One time they caught Mahi Mahi, which had roe. Fortunately, they had a Japanese crewmate who was aware of how special the roe was and prevented them for discarding it, providing for a unique and delicious dining experience.
Since the passing of the Henderson’s, The Silo is now a non-profit organization with beautifully preserved 19th century farm architecture and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visit the website to learn more about the history and to see upcoming classes.
The Silo at Hunt Farm
44 Upland Road
New Milford, CT 06776