MADISON — So, what’s for dinner?
Let’s see, there are so many choices.
How about filet tips and mushrooms in a creamy green peppercorn brandy sauce, roasted parsley potatoes and lemon roasted asparagus? Or, maybe turkey chili with cheese, sour cream and limes, served over your choice of spaghetti squash, baked potato or sweet potato and cornbread, accompanied by side salad with a southwest flair?
Depending on the day of the week, these and many other dishes are on the menu in Wynter Piekarz’s kitchen.
Wynter Piekarz, owner of Wynter’s Whisk, is hard at work whipping up tasty dishes to deliver to hungry clients along the Shoreline. Alongside her in the kitchen is her 22-year-old daughter, Devon.
On a recent Friday afternoon, with the kitchen door open and the aroma of freshly-prepared Chilean sea bass wafting through the airy kitchen, Wynter Piekarz and her daughter, Devon, busily packed meals for quick delivery.
In the center of the closed boxes of Chilean sea bass with ratatouille and tri-colored quinoa, a Wynter’s Whisk label was carefully affixed right in the center.
The main courses were lined up on a counter, alongside the plastic containers filled to the brim with freshly-made apple crisp.
With her white apron tied around her waist, hair pulled back and secured with a flowered headband, Wynter Piekarz, still full of energy after hours of cooking, was ready to pack them in her signature insulated bags and deliver to her hungry customers.
It was just three months ago that Wynter Piekarz launched her home delivery service.
“This has been something that’s been in the back of my mind for so long,” she says. “I’ve had this fear of doing it, so it’s so exciting.
“I can make these menus and be creative and I’ve gotten fabulous reviews and I have to say that every single client we’ve gotten, we’ve kept as a regular customer and that makes me really happy,” she adds.
Orders can be placed by visiting wynterswhisk.com.
Made daily, these dishes can be enjoyed directly out of the packaging or heated up in the microwave to enjoy warm.
“A lot of time I’ll leave the fish a little underdone,” Wynter Piekarz says, standing in her industrial kitchen at the Zion Episcopal Church in North Branford. “If I’m making browned scallops, I’ll leave them a little underdone so people can microwave.”
For this local chef, she is in her element in the kitchen.
“It’s my serenity time,” she says. “I get in the kitchen and it’s peace and serenity…it’s the Zen time for me.”
For Devon Piekarz, it is a great way to connect with her mother.
“Working together is really fun,” she says. “We have a lot of fun together. We’re always dancing.”
Wynter Piekarz, 53-years-old, has been cooking all her life.
“I always, from the time I was little, loved to cook,” she recalls. “My dad was a great cook and so was my grandmother.
She has a degree from the New York City’s French Culinary Institute, now known as International Culinary Center, where Madison’s Jacques Pepin, of international renown, was her teacher.
It was immediately before the coronavirus pandemic hit that Wynter Piekarz’s plans began to solidify.
“I was about to launch my culinary camps and classes when COVID hit,” she says. “This just exploded. I just started getting so busy, which has been amazing.”
This local chef stresses that most of her cuisine is very healthy.
“Lots of vegetables, whole grains,” she says. “I try to do fish twice a week.
“I do organic wherever possible, so organic meats and fishes, where possible,” she adds.
She explains that her dishes are created by color.
“When I’m planning a dish, it’s almost in my head done by color,” she says. “I like to add a splash of color to things and I’ll know something needs a little yellow.
“I love making salads because they can be very colorful and beautiful,” she adds. “I love to make food look as beautiful as it tastes.”
With a 10-burner stove, two ovens and an industrial dishwasher, dishes and desserts are created Monday through Friday in the kitchen at North Branford’s Zion Episcopal Church, via an arrangement she has made with the church.
While the menu includes children’s’ choices including kid’s steak tips, potatoes, peas and melon; kid’s mini chicken subs, cheese, bacon and ranch dressing, organic yogurt, a clementine and baby carrots and classic mac and cheese, Brussels sprouts and apples with peanut butter, many children choose the main entrée.
“We have one French toast sticks order today, but six kids are getting the sea bass,” says Devon Piekarz, just finishing up the packaging before delivering the meals on Friday afternoon.
In addition, the duo has been juicing, offering the Cholesterol Buster with ginger, apple and carrots; Green Immunity Buster with granny smith apples, parsley, kale, lemon and ginger, plus carrot and celery juice.
Devon Piekarz says that she has been cooking with her mom since she was little, but in Wynter’s Whisk kitchen she has taken on the role of baking desserts.
“I’m very factual and like everything to be evenly measured and my mom’s like just throw some of this in there and a little bit of that in there,” she says. “I’m like, ‘No, no, no. You need to write down specifically how much you’re using.’
“I’ve been making chocolate chip cookies the same way for 20 years,” Devon Piekarz says, “and she’s been pushing me out of my comfort zone and having me make white chocolate raspberry cheesecake and lemon curd mouse.”
After cooking and packaging, the meals are delivered in insulated monogrammed tote bags to be enjoyed the same day.
The delivery is contact free, which client Anne Tarpey-Flanders appreciates, especially in this time of COVID-19.
“It’s safe,” she says. “Especially in this time of the virus, you just want to feel really safe.”
Tarpey-Flanders and her husband, Richard, have been enjoying meals from Wynter’s Whisk for about six weeks.
“It’s my night off from cooking treat,” the Madison resident says.
She talks about her favorite meals.
“We had really delicious scallops,” she said. “She made an orzo with lemon and different herbs. It was just absolutely awesome.
“Then we had salmon, a really delicious salmon,” she adds. “She did a garlic, red bliss mashed potatoes, which were amazing.
Tarpey-Flanders marvels at the presentation of the food.
“The food is beautiful,” she says. “It’s beautiful to look at and her little boxes and her sweet little stamp that’s on it, the label, is fun, too.”
For Tarpey-Flanders, getting out in the warmer weather and enjoying fresh air and good food is definitely on her mind, Wynter’s Whisk food in particular.
“As we slowly start to relax a little bit here and people start getting out a little bit more, wouldn’t it be nice to just like have a picnic someplace with a small group, like your family,” she says. “You wouldn’t have to make the food yourself. It would be a nice kind of coming out picnic time.”