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Chef brings the flavors of America and elsewhere home to Wilton at her new restaurant

  • Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

    Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.

    (Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

  • Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)
  • Local woman brings the tastes of her travels home to Wilton with a new restaurant on Main Street.<br/><br/>(Staff photo by Ashley Saari)

Cheryl Schaefer once drove 13 hours to obtain a 30-pound bag of roasted green chilies from one of the largest chili festivals in the United States, Hatch Valley Chili Festival in Hatch, New Mexico. It took two months for the smell to fade from her car, but Schaefer walked away with an amazing chili sauce for her huevos rancheros, and to her it was worth it.

Schaefer has made a habit of chasing flavors around the country for more than 20 years, recording and recreating tastes from all over the U.S., Australia, Canada and the Caribbean. Now, her carefully stored collection of recipes has come home to roost in the town she grew up in: Wilton. But Schaefer isn’t keeping her recipes to herself. A recent graduate of the Art Institute’s School of International Cuisine in Salt Lake City, Utah, Schaefer recently opened her first restaurant ever at 47 Main St., aptly called Roam Cafe.

Roam opened with a boom on Nov. 10, serving more than 300 customers on it’s first day, and has been going strong since, Schaefer said in an interview at her cafe Tuesday. Her menu — made up of everything from a barbecue pulled pork sandwich recipe discovered in Kansas City, Missouri, to sausage from Wisconsin — reflects her favorite recipes from her travels, with a few more exotic dishes thrown in as daily specials.

“America is the melting pot of the world,” said Schaefer. “We have a unique opportunity in America to marry different flavors from all over the world together because of that melting pot. In every single corner of this country you’re going to find unique items that you’re not going to find anywhere else.

And she didn’t just try to make a menu that was varied, but also one that is healthy, she said. Customers won’t find burgers and fries on her menu, though. Instead, they can find fish tacos from Southern California and a variation of a meatloaf sandwich from the Pacific rim, paired with what she calls “chippies,” which are spiral sliced russett or sweet potatoes, baked with a little salt.

“As a single person who goes out to eat a lot, you realize the only option is fries,” she said. “And I’m a vegetable girl. I can’t go anywhere and get grilled zucchini on the side of my burger. So I really wanted to make a menu that could satisfy the hearty appetites, but not weigh them down.”

While the recipes may come from all over the world, Schaefer said she buys as many of her ingredients from local farmers as possible.

Even in the winter after the growing season is over, she said she will continue to look for local food products, such as maple syrup, which she intends to buy from Ben’s Sugar Shack in Temple, and ice cream, which she’ll get at the Connolly Brothers Dairy Farm in Temple.

Presently, the restaurant is only open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday, but Schaefer hopes to be able to open for dinner by February or March.

For more information about Roam, call 654-3455.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 235 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter at @AshleySaari.

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