The phrase “farm stand” brings to mind a place to buy local produce at the peak of freshness. You’ll certainly find that at Farmstand 46, but also be ready to discover everything from hearty sandwiches to wood-fired pizzas to house-cured charcuterie as this new project develops.
Named for its Templeton location on Highway 46 West, the business is a partnership between Tom Fundaro and the owners of Four Vines Winery, and it seems like a good match.
While Four Vines has made its mark as a boldly festive label best known for its zinfandels and syrahs (its tasting room is right behind Farmstand 46), Fundaro has emerged over the years as a fervent champion for quality rustic cuisine sourced from local ingredients.
A Central Coast native, Fundaro’s culinary journey has taken him through top-notch kitchens in Santa Fe, Napa Valley and New York.
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Upon returning to this area with his family in 2003, he helped develop a unique tapas menu at Trumpet Vine Restaurant before landing the executive chef position at Cris and JoAnn Cherry’s much lauded Villa Creek restaurant in Paso Robles, where Fundaro will remain with the full support of the Cherrys and considerable synergy between the two businesses.
“There was a need (for Farmstand 46) in the community” said Fundaro, “and I knew that it was a good opportunity to do the right thing in the right place at the right time. At Villa Creek, we have things running in such a way that after talking with Cris, we thought it would be a good opportunity.”
Currently, Farmstand 46 most closely resembles a small gourmet deli, albeit one with its own gardens within a stone’s throw of the front door. Fundaro is the first to admit that “it’s still evolving.”
Some select foodstuffs, such as olive oils and imported meats and cheeses, are available, but the emphasis is on freshly prepared, from-scratch fare such as deli salads, sandwiches, weekend wood-fired pizzas, and the increasingly popular “Drop-A-Pot” weekday take-home dinners.
“We wanted to be able to service locals with dinner, but we also wanted to be as green as possible, said Fundaro, so patrons bring in their own containers and pay by portions. The menu remains the same from week to week for a couple of months, offering a different dinner each night, and then changes seasonally. Because some dishes are prepared directly in the pot, one must be dropped off before 2 p.m., though a “rent-a-pot” option may soon be available as well.
Farmstand 46’s sandwiches feature everything from slow-roasted pork to roasted vegetables, oil-poached tuna to thin-sliced roast beef, salami to fresh mozzarella, plus a chef’s choice breakfast offering.
Of the salads, Fundaro said “we’ll always have four basics — two pastas, a potato and a farro salad — but the others will be seasonally based on what’s coming out of the garden. The whole concept here is farm-to-table.”
Indeed, in the near future, even some of the meats will be farm-to-table as Fundaro ramps up his housemade charcuterie (a French term for cold, cooked meats) with offerings such as pancetta, pastrami and prosciutto.
Plans are in the works to develop a small meat market area with local chickens, grass-fed beef and fresh sausages. The Farmstand 46 kitchen is set up as a processing facility so Fundaro can turn the bounty of local growers into products such as jams and tomato sauces.
While acknowledging its location makes it well-poised to cater to tourists, Fundaro is adamant about Farmstand 46’s commitment to local residents.
“We want to know what it is you want. This is your farm stand.”