Matt Caputo remembers his Greek grandmother by the garden she grew and tended. The varieties were unique to North America, and, as a boy, Matt sensed an importance in the difference. Matt now is the CEO of Tony Caputo’s market, and heritage preservation is a pillar of the business.
As an expression of that value, Matt took a cohort of employees, chefs and wholesale reps to meet, as he described, three Utah “culinary visionaries” who are “conveying their vision and passion through their food.”
Dubbed “Goat Camp,” the group visited Randy Ramsley’s goat farm in Caineville, toured the organic farm at Hell’s Backbone Grill in Boulder, and met the ardent, entrepreneurial force behind Ruth Lewandowski Wines.
They traveled from Caineville to Boulder via the scenic Notom Road and Burr Trail route east of Capitol Reef National Park and camped out both nights. Experiencing the land was equally as important as meeting the farmers.
Matt’s thoughts are more philosophical than most other businessmen’s bottom line or supply chain concerns. “I wanted the group to have a deeper dive into Randy’s cheese and his farming style,” Matt begins. “Mesa Farm is outside of Capitol Reef. It is an amazing place; and you taste the cheese. You can taste the energy of the landscape in the cheese. His flavors come from the energy of the place. It’s the difference,” Matt explains, “between the nutrition label and nourishing something else.”
The “campers” rose early, helped milk the goats, learned about the farm, then gathered for a cheese tasting. Randy took the opportunity to informally share with the group not only the importance of sustainable agricultural practices and nutritionally dense food, but also how much he appreciates that their support allows him to keep farming in a way that is profoundly important to him.
“The people who were in the room,” Matt says, “make up 80 to 90 percent of his sales, and to hear the difference they all make to him was moving. I got all choked up, and when I looked around, I saw tears rolling down people’s cheeks. You hear buzz words in the industry, such as ‘artisan,’” Matt continues, “but when you meet someone who’s producing in the same way it was done 100 years ago, that’s what has meaning. It makes a difference to hear why Randy is doing what he’s doing”
“Then we want to Jen and Blake’s farm in Boulder, and it had the same feeling,” Matt remarks. The third visionary the group met was Evan Lewandowski, whose mission it is to grow natural wine in Boulder, Utah.
Matt provided opportunity for purposeful connection, and Goat Camp was a success. “Our role at Caputo’s is to support places like these,” Matt asserts. “We want to help preserve the important things.”