When Juniper Restaurant burst onto the Burlington food scene in 2013, it quickly became one of the most popular places to dine in the city. With a menu featuring everything from goat cheese gnocchi and venison chili to smoked trout cake and roasted quail, Juniper made a name for itself early on.
Located in the LEED-certified Hotel Vermont on Cherry Street, Juniper prides itself on serving locally-grown fare. In a city like Burlington, a focus on local food isn’t exactly groundbreaking. But thanks to executive chef Doug Paine, Juniper does it exceptionally well.
The Path to Juniper
A 36-year-old Vermont native, Doug lives in Richmond and joined Juniper when it opened last year. He grew up fishing and hunting in Waterford and worked his way up through the industry at notable Vermont restaurants including Mr. Pickwicks in Stowe and Michael’s on the Hill in Waterbury.
In February, I was invited by Hotel Vermont to the Vermont Fresh Network Farmer’s Dinner at Juniper, where Doug prepared incredible dishes using local ingredients from Pete’s Greens, Starbird Fish, Butterworks Farm, and Maple Wind Farm. The love and care Doug puts into his dishes is evident, and building relationships with local farmers and producers is what helps drive him as a chef.
“I spend time every day talking with and listening to farmers and producers, and I’ve always enjoyed spending time on farms because it’s one of the best ways to feel connected to food,” Doug says. “All the farmers and food producers I work with have a real passion for their product. For them, it’s more than a way to make a living – it’s a calling.”
Doug works with 20 to 30 different local farms and producers at different times throughout the year, and he spends about 80 percent of the restaurant’s budget on locally-sourced products.
Maple Wind Farm in Huntington and Richmond is one of the farms Doug started working with when Juniper opened. Beth Whiting, who owns Maple Wind Farm with her husband Bruce Hennessey, says they have established a strong working relationship with Doug over the past year. Even when he’s not on the clock, Doug makes a point to stop by Maple Wind Farm’s tent at the summertime Richmond Farmers’ Market each week with his finance and two children.
“He’s a very creative chef, responsive, and connected to our farm,” Whiting says. “We touch base, share ideas, and he is flexible when it comes to what we have available and when.”
Other farmers and producers Doug has started working with include Half Pint Farm, Rockville Market Farm, Templeton Farm, North Hollow Farm, Dragonfly Sugarworks, Hermit’s Gold Wild Edibles, and Adam’s Berry Farm.
His favorite dish to prepare at Juniper? It all depends on the local ingredients he comes across on any given day.
“I really enjoy cooking specials at Juniper. It gives me the opportunity to use the best available products in a spontaneous and creative way,” he says. “In the summer, I like to go to the farmer’s market, see what looks best, and make a dish out of whatever I find.”
**If You Go: Juniper is located at Hotel Vermont on 41 Cherry Street in Burlington. The restaurant and is open for breakfast and dinner. Juniper also features a fantastic bar with an outdoor patio.
*My meal at the Vermont Fresh Network Farmer’s Dinner was sponsored by Hotel Vermont.