Saugerties Performing Arts Factory © Saugerties Performing Arts Factory 2012  By PAULA ANN MITCHELL Freeman staff pmitchell@freemanonline.com; http://twitter.com/anchoratfreeman A “person of interest” will be observed entering the  building at 169 Ulster Ave. in Saugerties on March 31 at  approximately 19 hundred hurs. The subject won’t be  carrying his weapon or badge, but he’ll be armed just  the same with his sense of good taste. All of this cop  speak seems perfectly natural when introducing none  other than the Frank Serpico, the former whistle-  blowing NYPD police officer, who will making a rare  public appearance in Ulster County. Serpico will be  charged with “policing” an elite group of chefs March 31  at 7 p.m. at the new Saugerties Performing Arts Factory  (SPAF) for its “soft opening.” For sure,  doughnuts won’t be on the menu. Billed  as a night of “wine, tapas, chocolate  and entertainment,” the “Against the  Grain” event is being shot as a pilot  episode for Green Peas TV, an online  program that is the brainchild of Jane  Watson. “We built a special stage for  this, and we thought it would be fun to  open with something like this,” said  Lou Spina, the operations manager at  SPAF. The online cooking show, “Against  the Grain,” covers the Hudson Valley  and Berkshires and follows celebrated  chefs and their moveable feasts in  interesting locations. Watson is  collaborating with Spina to produce the  episode before a live studio audience in  a corner of the 21,000-square-foot  facility owned by Gerard and Erica  Price.The couple owns Uniforms USA,  Inc., which occupies about half of the  industrial complex. At the upcoming  event, the audience will get to sample creations such as  hand-made gnocchi, winter-greens salad and  stracciatella soup made by culinary wizards like Noah  Sheetz of the Chefs’ Consortium and Robert Turner, the  executive chef at the Omega Food Works. Rhinebeck  chocolatier Oliver Kita will join the mix, and award-  winning wines from Whitecliff Vineyard will be paired  with each course. Watson said the whole idea is to  promote agritourism while catering to a generation that  is watching reality TV. “Everything that the chef is  cooking has to come from a local food producer,” she  said. “It’s a big passion for me to protect our farmers  and local farmland and do it in an entertaining way.”  During the warmer seasons, Watson takes her moveable  feasts to unusual outdoor spots or historic sites. Last  year, she and her crew at Green Peas TV shot episodes  at Bannerman Castle on Pollepel Island and Oak Terrace,  the childhood home of Eleanor Roosevelt, in Tivoli.  “The idea is to take the chefs out of their restaurants  and away from their comfort zones and bring them to  unfamiliar territory,” Watson said. “It’s really asking a  lot of them.” The money raised at past moveable feasts  has gone to local charities, making it a win-win scenario  for everyone. The audience gets to meet big-name  chefs and taste their creations. The local farm-to-table  concept is underscored, and the money raised at the  events goes toward local projects.Watson said lately,  she’s wanted to mix it up a bit and bring in some  “nonconformists” to interact with the chefs on stage.  She immediately thought of Frank Serpico, who lives in  the mountains somewhere in Columbia County. Serpico  became a household name in 1971 when he testified  before the Knapp Commission against corrupt officers in  the New York City Police Department. He went public  about it in 1970 and paid a big price for doing so. During  a drug bust in Brooklyn, he was shot in the face at  point-blank range while his fellow officers did nothing  to help him. After the trial in 1971, he retired and left  for Europe, where he lived for almost a decade. His  story gripped the nation and eventually was made into  the 1973 film “Serpico,” starring Al Pacino. Watson, who  has been working with Serpico to shoot teasers for  Green Peas TV on the upcoming “Against the Grain”  event, said he was a perfect fit for what she had in  mind. “When Frank went to Europe, he lived on an  organic farm and got very interested in how food was  being raised,” she said. “He made sense as a guest for  our episode because not only is he a nonconformist, but  he believes in supporting our local farmers.” While the  production itself will be primarily the work of Watson  and her crew, she has gotten enormous support from  the partners at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory.  Spina and the Prices are glad to lend their space for the  event and believe it’s a great way to introduce  themselves and their mission for the arts in Saugerties.  “Ours is like a match made in heaven,” Spina said about  his partnership with the Prices. Already, Erica Price has  transformed half of the industrial building into a  theater, doing much of the physical labor herself. “This  is about a woman who was concerned about how a  community can come together through the arts, and  together, we’re doing it. Our motto is ‘All the arts  under one roof,’ and it’s happening,” Spina said. While  “Against the Grain” marks the first public event at SPAF,  Spina said he and the Prices plan to feature live theater,  opera, cabaret, art exhibits and even art classes in the  coming months. “This is going to be big,” Spina said.  “It’s going to be very big, and our place is magnificent.”  Tickets for “Against the Grain” with Frank Serpico are  $75 and can be purchased by calling (845) 246-7723. Ten  percent of the ticket sales will go toward local food  pantries and soup kitchens.  pmitchell@freemanonline.com; http://twitter.com/anchoratfreeman pmitchell@freemanonline.com; twitter.com/anchoratfreeman
© Saugerties Performing Arts Factory 2012  From Left, Lou Spina, Operations Manager; President Erica Price; and Vice President Gerard Price, sit inside the facility. (Freeman photo by Tania Barricklo)