Growing up in rural East Tennessee, just down the road from what is now Blackberry Farm, Sara was in the dirt early on as a child where her parents and other family members farmed and raised pigs, cows, chickens and grew a variety of foods to sell and feed the family. Her grandmother and her dad picked boxwoods and greenery growing wild on their farm and made wreaths and Christmas decorations to sell at the local farm stand. Funny how things come full circle. After graduating high school, Sara took off to travel around briefly, attended college and landed in the restaurant business. Teaching herself how to bake and create pastry, she quickly fell in love with the food industry and decided to get serious about a chef’s career. After deciding she could not afford to go to culinary school, she moved from her home in Atlanta to Chicago in hopes of working with some talented chefs, and she did.
Sara was hired by chef Tony Mantuano of Spiagga restaurant and opened a new restaurant with him, which afforded her the opportunity to work with chefs like Charlie Trotter and Rick Bayless. Acting on a lifelong desire to move west, she traveled to the Lake Tahoe area and opened two restaurants there, before moving on to San Francisco, Santa Fe and Scottsdale Arizona. Being out West allowed her to start working with farmers and sourcing the best ingredients for restaurants and clients that she cooked for. She also became involved with the farmers markets there and became increasingly aware of the importance of the farmer-chef relationship.
In 2002 Sara moved back to Asheville and worked at The Grove Park Inn as a chef before moving to Morganton, to be the chef at a fine dining restaurant. Sara met her husband there and on their third date, took her to what became their farm, Millstone Meadows, where they raised goats for cheese, pigs and lamb. They kept laying hens for eggs and grew a variety of vegetables, herbs and flowers. Sara started selling at the Morganton Farmers Market, hosted fabulous farm-to-fork dinners and opened a retail gourmet food-to-go focused business featuring organic foods. A restaurant soon followed. After a slump in the economy the business closed.
Sara had also started developing recipes for artisan breads using ingredients from the farm to incorporate into her slow fermentation dough creating a rustic European style loaf. Sara began selling her breads at the Hickory and Davidson Farmer’s Market, along with her rustic fruit tarts and other pastries. Sara and Mark and Millstone Meadows Farm were featured in Our State magazine in 2011, with an article focused on their love for each other, taking on the farm together and hosting farm to fork dinners.
The success of the business developed at the Davidson Farmer’s Market led to a brick and mortar bakery/restaurant on Main street in 2014 named Millstone Bake House and Provisions. The business drew acclaim from the local press and was a gathering place for downtown locals. MBH was a full- time bakery and served breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring a wine bar and local beers on tap. Sara and Mark ventured out with a second restaurant upstairs, above Millstone Bake House, named The Upper Crust and Social Club, featuring seasonal seafood, a full bar and live music.
Sara and Mark were approached by local businessmen in late 2016 with an offer to sell both businesses, which did lead to the sale in May of 2017. They proceeded to sell the farm and move to High Country where they have discovered an exciting new lifestyle with plenty of hiking, fishing and the local social scene.