The Germination of Thunder Farms at Matarazzo Farm

by Melody Kettle

Jim Matarazzo and Chef Michael CarrinoChef Michael Carrino, owner of Restaurant Passionne, is often heard saying, “No farmers, no food.” The concept makes sense, and people often agree, but only a few actually put their money, time and effort where their mouth is.  This past weekend, Chef Carrino took the farm to table concept one step further, again affirming his dedication to local farming and agriculture.

Carrino, accompanied by his two sous chefs from Passionne, headed to Matarazzo Farm, in North Caldwell, to commence the third season of “Thunder Farms,”  a planting project Carrino began two years ago, which has doubled in yield each year.

This year, Jim Matarazzo is sharing a portion of his hilltop farm land to assist Carrino, who has brought in tubs, set them up on palates, filled them with soil, and planted seeds for Rocket Arugula, basil, celery, garlic chives, and other produce, all of which will be local, and some organic.  Soon, a portion of the yield will turn up on plates at Passionne, and what Carrino doesn’t use for the restaurant is Jim’s to sell at the farm stand.

And if you’ve never been to Matarzzo Farms, take a look at this video from last year, for a chat with owners Jim & Jeannie Matarazzo.

Carrino takes pride in the planting, and hopes to one day have a green house where he could grow produce year round.  Chef Carrino says,  “To see it now, it’s just soil.  But in three days you’re going to see germination.   In two weeks you’ll see sprouts. In a few weeks, this whole area will be just lush green. It’s just awesome.”


Restaurant Passionne

77 Walnut St.

Montclair, NJ 07042