What's for Dinner: Ask Beacon Pantry
When Beacon Pantry first opened in Beacon two years ago, it occupied a small space on Main Street. Its popularity quickly caught on, so nine short months later, owner Stacey Penlon moved the business to a bigger space down the street where she could fully realize her dream and give the Beacon food scene something unique, something they didn’t already have. And that, she has done.
What is Beacon Pantry? Beacon Pantry is a place where you can not only enjoy a delicious bite to eat or a great cup expresso but also find a large variety of unique and specialty food items for sale as well as have
the opportunity to learn how make them into meals fit for a king.
The concept of Beacon Pantry began when Penlon unexpectedly lost her job in the financial sector. “I thought of it as an opportunity to pursue my real passion, food,” she said. “I have a 45-year love of food and a life that has been a total emergence in everything to do with food.”
Stacey’s passion for all things food would have her reading anything she could get her hands on and taking many foodie and cooking “enthusiast” classes locally and around the world. “It’s been a lifelong passion and so with Beacon Pantry, the idea was to bring together my love of food and love of all things European - particularly Italian - with my love of cooking and of course also my business experience.” When she thought about what Beacon needed, she considered how often she has run to Route 9 to find an item she needs for cooking, and how often she has wished there was a specialty food store in Beacon.
As luck would have it, as she drove down Main Street, literally the day after losing her job, she saw a space that was available. Less than two months later Beacon Pantry was open for business. Nine months later the shop moved into a new, bigger space, allowing Penlon to combine the original pantry concept with a café with seating and an event space where she specializes in offering a unique selection of cooking classes and catered private events.
The Pantry offers a large selection of specialty grocery items: gourmet cheeses, Charcuterie, local and domestic delicacies, and French and Italian pantry items. According to Penlon, “Everything on the shelves is there for a reason. I can tell you this is the absolute best of its category or it’s a very good value for what it is. I don’t want to be a gimmicky store that is a gift shop. We have a lot of specialty stuff and I keep my prices fair and reasonable. We make it a point to not carry things that are too precious. I want it to be a place where people shop often - a day-to-day place to shop - and not just for special occasions.”
Penlon’s aim at Beacon Pantry is to not only offer great food, but also to create a place with a high level of service, where she can bring something truly special to a customer's shopping experience. There is always an educational element to the shopping experience at The Pantry. It’s a store where you can go in and taste and learn about new items. You can walk in and grab an item and ask, ‘What goes with this? What can I make with it?’ and they’ll help you put a meal together. “We make it fun and easy. If you don’t know what to make for dinner or are having company and you do not want to not make the same old, same old, this is the place to come,” says Penlon.
Now with the new space, the educational component has greatly expanded with the launch of the Kitchen at Beacon Pantry. The Kitchen is a 750-square-foot event space available to host private events, parties and cooking classes. Most importantly for Penlon, it’s a space to invite people in and get them interacting by teaching them different cooking techniques, new skills and how to be creative with food. “There is something for everyone,” says Penlon, “Since we opened The Pantry, I have always done classes on cheese and wine pairing, but now with the Kitchen we can expand our repertoire to include a whole variety of different classes.”
A good example of this is her Taste of Beacon Pantry class. In this class Stacey takes items she sells in the
pantry and does a tasting with the items, pairing the items together and preparing dishes that include them. “I pull different things off the shelves that I know people are confused about, intimidated by, or have no idea what it is and I introduce these items to them. It allows people to try and learn about new things,” explains Penlon.. After class, everyone can go into the store and purchase what they liked and want to use at home. Penlon makes sure that if it’s been made in class, you can buy it in the store. She also provides a discount on the items you buy after each class.
The Kitchen at Beacon Pantry offers a schedule full of diverse choices, with classes taught by Penlon as well as an incredible lineup of guest chefs teaching their specialties. Some of the guest chefs and classes thus far, and you are sure to find on the schedule again:
Chef John Cummings, Professional Chef and instructor at the International Culinary Center in NYC teaches how to make classic French sauces - hollandaise, mayonnaise, Velouté, Béchamel and how to pair and incorporate them into a gourmet dinner.
Barb Fisher of Barbs Butchery in Beacon shares knife skills and butchering techniques.
Jennifer Claire, owner of Manhattan cooking school, Home Cooking New York, offers Cooking for the Week, a class designed to teach you how to prep and cook once and be able to create and enjoy five nights worth of meals from the combination of ingredients you started with.
Anne Marie La Fredo shows you how to create allergy-free, healthy meals that can be enjoyed by anyone on a restricted (or non-restricted!) diet.
The Kitchen also offers a range of kids’ classes, including Kids Brunch and a week-long kids cooking camp where kids get a chance to play with their food, creating art projects that they can eat. Kids learn safe knife skills, cooking techniques, kitchen safety, and etiquette, all while having fun and eating too.
The day I spoke with Penlon she was getting prepared for, what she said is one of her favorite classes to teach, the Italian Sunday Lunch, which she referred to as more of an event or “full meal experience”. Her scheduled guest Chef for the evening was to be John Cummings and together they were preparing a traditional three-hour, five course, Italian meal paired with wine. In this particular class the guests are not doing any cooking but instead are learning about and giving their tastebuds over to, sampling and eating for the afternoon. “This class designed to feel like I have invited a bunch of good friends over to my home for dinner. It is casual, comfortable and everyone shares a lot of laughs”, shares Penlon. The sparkle in her eyes made it very apparent he passion for hosting and entertaining.
There is a lot going on at Beacon Pantry and more being added every day. Beacon Pantry more than answers your question, ‘What’s for Dinner?’ They offer new ideas and delicious options to expand your repertoire, and they even teach you how to cook it. It’s a place to go when you are tired of the same old, same old for dinner and want spark up dinner time. It’s also the perfect place to go for ideas when company is coming and you want to impress.
You can find out about upcoming events and classes on their website, Facebook page or Instagram.
382 Main Street
Beacon, NY 12508