March 25, 2016 by WhiteStone
Our need is such that we cannot just buy local Black Angus and Duroc pork. Farmer Prudence, for one, only raises so many pigs a year, so Chef Ameer began to look for product that would be a match for what he purchases now for Champney’s. He was looking for heritage breeds, respectfully raised in open pasture, and respectfully dispatched according to Grandin principles of humaneness.
He found an area supplier that buys in Black Angus beef and Duroc pork from small family-owned farms in the Midwest, with traceable DNA to the specific single farm they came from. These animals are raised on fresh grain and some corn, never from grain stored in silos, so there is no chance of any mold, bacteria, or animal by-product in their feed. This all-natural feed leads to a consistency in quality and a juicy tenderness.
Pigs that are fed from a garbage pail and given unsorted scraps will have a different quality of flavor, and this Duroc heritage breed is so pure that it can actually be cooked to a done-ness and be delicious!
You know we source as locally as we can with menus changing as the seasons bring new produce, and the day’s specials will often change on the fly as foragers and farmers bring us baskets to the back door.
Just because we cannot source local beef and pork in the quantities we need, does not mean that the same standards and food philosophy are not met. And of course the meat for our burgers continues to be sourced from Deerfield’s Yazwinski Farm, just a few buildings north of us. Got to eat the view so we can keep the beauty of the farmland and pastures in this part of western Mass for generations to come!
January 12, 2016 by WhiteStone
We are often asked why our restaurant and tavern here is named Champney’s. Everything on the walls in Champney’s references and acknowledges this building and this small, unique town. James Wells Champney is part of that history.
He was born in July 1843 and raised in Roxbury. Sketches show evidence of very early artistic leanings, and he studied at the Lowell Institute, where Dr Oliver Wendell Holmes taught his life and anatomy classes. When the Civil War broke out in 1861, Champney joined a drilling club, and later fought with the 45th Massachusetts Volunteers in the Battle of Gettysburg where he contracted malaria and was invalided out.
1865 found Champney teaching drawing at the Young Ladies’ Seminary in Lexington, MA where he met and fell in love with the “Madonna-like face” of the “exquisite” Elizabeth Williams from Deerfield – his future wife.
Lizzie had gone on to graduate from Vassar, and her parents – abolitionists and temperance crusaders had moved to Kansas to help free the state from slavery. They arranged an engagement between the spirited Lizzie and a well-heeled farmer, but when Champney followed her there in the spring of 1873, she gladly eloped with him – “an unexpected and unspeakable happiness”. Champney was a mere artist, and the Williams were not thrilled despite his awards and recognition, especially when the couple decamped to Spain and then France to pursue exhibitions and commissions.
In 1876 the couple returned and moved in to the Williams Homestead in Deerfield. Champney built a studio, named the house “Elmstead” and added the still existing “Colonial” features such as the gambrel roofed ell, including the doorway from Alexander Hamilton’s house in New York City.
Champney became Professor of Art at Smith College in 1877, where he was one of the founders of the art gallery. He was still teaching there in 1884 when the Deerfield Inn was built.
Champney was endlessly expanding his artistic knowledge – from oils to pastels, from etchings and engraving, from pencil sketches and watercolors, into photography. He painted society ladies, illustrated books – in particular those written by his independent wife and ones related to social issues of the time, designed murals and stained glass windows, and was one of the first American artists to apply the French Impressionist theory of values to his work.
With their son Frère and daughter Maria, the Champneys split their time between New York and Deerfield, where in the summer he gave art classes by the Deerfield River and in the meadow by his house. Apparently “the old town always seemed to come alive” when he was in residence.
James Wells Champney died in an elevator accident in 1903 when he was in Manhattan to give a lecture on photography as a legitimate art form. His new-found discoveries in photograph techniques enabled him to get one of the earliest-known moving images showing two people jumping. He is said to have experimented with nighttime photographs, using the flash of a pistol shot for lighting.
We chose the name Champney’s because – beyond his close connection with this village, we admire who he was as a person. He was an abolitionist, an adventurer, an innovator, and a supporter of women’s suffrage. He was genial and sympathetic, and we here all highly value kindness. (Once he bought the house of an elderly Deerfield couple having financial difficulties, fixed it up so it was in good repair, and gave it to the couple to live out their days in.)
The Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association records say of Champney that “he loved his work, and loved his play, there were no dull hours with him.” We love that James Wells was known as “a genial host and charming guest”. This so perfectly captures for us the essence of the hospitality that is the gathering place named for him. It is also a tribute to Deerfield that, no matter how distant and varied his travels were, he always came back here where he found his greatest contentment.
August 17, 2015 by WhiteStone
We had a jaw-dropping incident here recently where some dinner guests used racial epithets towards one of our wonderful servers. Appalled guests at nearby tables apologized to him. (We did not know about this at that moment, because nobody wanted to disturb us while we eating here ourselves with family and friends as we celebrated a special occasion of our own.) In 28 years we had yet to see people like this come in here. No – hang on, 27 years. In our first year as innkeepers I received a special unsigned letter that wondered if I had wetted my finger and stuck it into an open electrical socket. Remember big 80’s hair?!
The Deerfield Inn is a place of kindness, care, and warmth. Your happiness is important to us and we care about you, but we have no tolerance for intolerance. This is not a place for prejudice. If you are the kind of person who has cruel and unkind thoughts and words about the people you see around you, you may not express them here. If you do, we will be glad to show you the door. We welcome everybody of any gender, ethnicity, and creed, but haters will never be welcome in this building.
December 5, 2014 by WhiteStone
Do you remember that last December we collected shoes for an area charity that had that particular need? This year we hope to fill the base of our trees with gifts for all those whom Community Action helps throughout the year, but with an urgent need over the upcoming holidays. They have individuals and families they help with housing and food, but they also need toys to hand out for the holidays, bedding, and warm clothes.
If you can bring an unwrapped toy, a cozy blanket, non-perishable food items, clothes for all ages, we will make sure to deliver any generous gift you bring to Community Action.
Please think of bringing something over when you come for your holiday party, for a drink at the bar, or a bite to eat. You will be bringing joy to others which of course will bring joy to you! AND we will love you forever for being so kind and thoughtful.
January 24, 2014 by WhiteStone
Guess what? January 28th is Blueberry Pancake Day! Ours is a 10″ round – now that’s a pancake!
Upcoming Performances at Champney’s Restaurant at the Deerfield Inn: