In the fall of 1979, George Schenk stuffed all his worldly possessions into his pickup truck and moved from upstate New York to central Vermont. After settling in the sleepy ski town of Waitsfield, he began working as a dishwasher, freelance photographer, and live-in baby sitter.
He also apprenticed at local restaurants and learned from chefs who were cooking in ways that emphasized local and regional ingredients. By 1985, Mr. Schenk was selling his own “flatbread,” a variation on the brick oven-style pizza he’d eaten as a teenager, topped with Vermont produce.
Serving nutritious food, he realized, was a good way to promote the kind of community values he’d absorbed in his Connecticut childhood and the ecological principles he’d embraced in his previous careers as a farmer and forester.
“I felt as though the environmental dimension of food needed a voice,” Schenk recalls. Today, American Flatbread operates three popular Vermont locations, exports frozen pizzas nationwide, and is franchising its restaurant concept in other states.