Kitchen Favorites: Farmer Mark Toigo

Pennsylvania farmer Mark Toigo is a familiar face at DC restaurants and markets.

Pennsylvania farmer Mark Toigo, 43, is on the radar screen of Washington chefs and locals on a weekly basis—they’re all after his berries, plums, apples, and 22 varieties of peaches (his down-to-earth charisma doesn’t hurt either).

The man behind Shippensburg-based Toigo Orchards isn’t a farmer in the barefoot Steinbeck-ian sense, but a business man who regularly drops off apples and tomatoes at DC restaurants like Vidalia, Agraria, Buck’s Fishing & Camping, and Blue Duck Tavern. With his team frequenting nine area farmers markets every week, families know to gather around his booth for fresh-cut produce samples and cups of cider. He even supplies Georgetown University’s first student-run community supported agriculture group with truckloads of fruit, plus jarred soups, jams and honey.

Toigo is currently in Toronto checking out greenhouses, but we caught up with him for a few minutes. We wanted to know what he likes on his pizza. And whether he really enjoys every vegetable.
Favorite flavor of pie: Fresh blackberry.

Any food allergies?
: Thank God, no! Though I do notice that after too much wine, I don't feel so well the next day. Does that count as allergies?

Tea or coffee?
: Coffee! I'm having one right now. Yikes I need help!

Least favorite veggie
: OK, this one has to be the butter bean, aka the lima bean. It tastes nothing like butter. What a fraud. But after thinking about it some more, broccoli. If it weren't for the butter or cheese it serves to support, it might be considered an ornamental.

Favorite guilty pleasure snack
: If it’s food you are referring to, then frites and hollandaise. Try them at Bistrot du Coin.
Ideal pizza toppings
: Also a platform for cheese (which is much better than broccoli). And you can get more on there! Four, five or six kinds of cheese is good.

Chocolate or vanilla?
: Has anyone every really answered vanilla?

Biggest food-related role model
: Tim Rosendahl–chef, friend, bail bondsman, counselor, counsel. He taught me that food, life, friends, family and song are all parallel roads, as they should be. And he taught me to drink better wine.
Favorite sandwich
: Crab cake. Because I love summers on the bay.