Not long after I moved to Vermont , I began to realize what being in Vermont meant .
Not just cows and quiet , syrup and lots of trees , but an embrace of community . And accessibility . I could ask a neighbor for a jump start on my snow-covered car . I could call the Governor and ask for advice . I had a cocoon of help and support and kindness .
As we considered this series - about people who thrive , grow and succeed in Vermont - we knew the stories are not just about business or money , but a love story . The interweaving of a person with an idea , a mission , and how Vermont plays such a vital role in the process .
— Margot Zalkind Mayor
STORY & PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY MARGOT ZALKIND
In the 1970s , cuisine in Vermont was not very diverse . In Montpelier , we had The Lobster Pot , The Stockyard Inn , and The Wayside Diner . Classic fare , but for those who might crave something more unusual , the pickings were slim . Bagels ? Italian food ? Asian ? Nope .
When I moved from New York City to Vermont , I was somewhat in food shock , and so I started to cook things like wonton soup and eggrolls - because it was my only way to get international meals . They weren ’ t fabulous , but it was the only way for me to get my fix back then .
And then came Steve Bogart .
A major force in changing the face of Vermont food diversity , Steve Bogart has been a Chinese chef in Vermont for decades . It started with his pop-up catering and an on-the-go food truck , culminating in the creation of a star in the Burlington restaurant arena , A Single Pebble , his legacy .
Where did it start ?
Chinese restaurants were exotic to a nine-year-old boy in New Jersey .
“ When I was like eight or nine , my parents brought me to a Chinese restaurant in the neighboring town . And it was a classic suburban Chinese restaurant . I was fascinated with the people , the architecture , eating with sticks , having the dishes come with covers on them , and the beautiful chinaware .”
He discovered this totally different world . And , as a child , he became fascinated by the culture and beliefs .
“ Chinese food is based on nine ingredients . I just learned from every place I could . As a teenager , I would visit Chinatown in New York , and I would go to the restaurant ’ s dumpsters , just to see what ingredients they were using .” He continues , “ I ’ ve been cooking Chinese since I was 10 . Back then , Penguin Books had these paperbacks . You know , half of it would be in French , and then you turn it upside down and the other half was Chinese . My brother really liked French . The books were kicking around the house and I picked them up , and I started cooking Chinese . Almost every single weekend as a kid , I would open up a Penguin book and try cooking .”
So how does a young man become an honored Chinese chef ?
Enduring passion , unrelenting energy , and lots of support .
Steve moved to Vermont to follow his high school sweetheart - and kept cooking . He built houses , painted , was a logger , and worked multiple jobs to support his quest to cook every weekend . “ You know , that ’ s something I ’ m realizing now at 73 years old , is that I don ’ t have any hobbies ,