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Cathy Jett is the business editor at The Free Lance-Star, and specializes in covering the area's retail scene. You can email her at

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The Fresh Link connects area farmers, Washington chefs

When chef Todd Gray needs a special variety of produce for his upscale Washington restaurant Equinox, he often turns to a company in Locust Dale called The Fresh Link.

Co-founder Mollie Visosky and her husband, John Paul Visosky, not only supply Equinox and about 50 other Washington restaurants with fresh picked produce from small farms in Culpeper, Orange and other parts of Virginia and North Carolina, they also do test plantings to strike a balance between what chefs want and what farmers can grow.

“She’s planted some tomatoes and squashes for us, then she shares with others,” said Gray, who began his career working at La Petite Auberge in Fredericksburg. “Sometimes we can’t take everything that she’s growing.”

Equinox was among the first restaurants that Mollie Visosky and her original business partner, Abby Harper, approached when they started The Fresh Link three years ago.

The company talks with  chefs to find out what they  need, works with experienced growers to test crops  and create supply, aggregates  and then delivers just-picked  produce to restaurants on  Tuesdays and Thursdays.

“They’re looking for local  connections because the  produce is fresher,” Mollie  Visosky said. “Beans only  retain their sugars for a few  days. If they’re shipped from  California or South America, the quality and flavor  dissipate quickly.”

Gray said he places an order with the Fresh Link once or twice a week, and then he and his chefs discuss how they’ll use it. Right now he’s getting in sweet peas, kale, heirloom blueberries and blackberries and micro-salad greens.

“We typically use the berries as garnish,” Gray said. “We may put a compote of berries on cheesecake. Sometimes we’ll make a sauce out of blackberries for a little piece of local pork. It’s very, very nice.”

For more about The Fresh Link and some of the local farmers and restaurants involved, please see my article in Saturday’s business section of The Free Lance-Star.