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Laura Higgins-Baltzley
Laura Higgins-Baltzley

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Laura Higgins-Baltzley: Bringing Cape Cod Cuisine Back to Its Roots

The co-chef behind The Buffalo Jump crafts her menus around true native ingredients

Laura Higgins-Baltzley returned to Cape Cod to celebrate the region's cuisine. In a tourist-heavy area of Massachusetts where lobster rolls and French fries often come to mind during peak season, she's working to refocus the region's food, recalling the true local ingredients from the place she grew up.

Higgins-Baltzley has never had a job outside of the restaurant industry, and worked in California and Chicago before making the move back east. She and her now-husband, Brandon Baltzley, wanted to move to Cape Cod and had the idea to open a restaurant that focused on the area's original cuisine.

"How I cook depends on where I am," Higgins-Baltzley says. Here, she uses ingredients native to the Cape area, and her cooking reflects Native American, Portuguese, and English influences.

The couple made the move to the Cape last year after working together at Ribelle in Boston and established The 41-70 in Woods Hole, forming a partnership with a long-time local restaurateur who owned a space on the water, down the road from the oceanographic institute.

"How I cook depends on where I am."

"We're really trying to focus on local products around the area and highlight, not necessarily highlight the individual farm, but highlight the area as a whole and just make the community aware of what the history of this area is all about," she says.

At The 41-70, named for the geographic coordinates of the restaurant, Higgins-Baltzley worked to bring their concept to life, getting up early in the morning to forage for ingredients like knotweed (which bears a slight resemblance to rhubarb), wintergreen, beach rose, and beach arugula, before heading into work, cooking all day, menu planning at night, and taking no shortcuts — all in addition to caring for their newborn daughter, Faunus.

Just recently, Higgins-Baltzley and Baltzley decided to move on from The 41-70 to start a dinner series called The Buffalo Jump. This will serve as a springboard into the new restaurant they plan to open some time in 2017, which will be entirely their own, from the food served to the plates used and the cohesiveness of the menu with front-of-house service.

The Buffalo Jump will operate at Coonamessett Farm in East Falmouth, one of the places Higgins-Baltzley will use to source ingredients. "We're going to be focusing on very, very native stuff," she says. It will be a dinner series, with 12 to 14 people each seating, and "we'll be able to really focus on the food and the plate ware," she says.

The farm has hosted dinners in the past and has all the necessary permits to work with The Buffalo Jump.

"They have a kitchen where we can prepare and cook the food," Higgins-Baltzley says. "Our plan is to be using produce from their farm, the other farm that we've been working with — Pariah Dog Farm — and our own farm. Three farms and a good amount of foraging."

The five to seven courses served each night at The Buffalo Jump will showcase these ingredients and the history of the region, and Higgins-Baltzley says guests would be welcome to bring their own beverages, though she and Baltzley may try their hand at serving some fermented drinks.

There won't be a heavy meat focus, due to the nature of the region, but a likely menu item will be bison, and definitely seafood.

Higgins-Baltzley says she was anxious about the change, but ready to execute their concept from start to finish. The Buffalo Jump kicks off its first service on July 4 and will run until the end of August.

Find the full list of 2016 Young Guns here

Dana Hatic is Eater's associate editor in Boston.
Laura Higgins-Baltzley is the co-chef at The Buffalo Jump in Cape Cod, MA.
Editor: Sonia Chopra
Copy editor: Dawn Mobley
See all Young Guns coverage here.


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