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Deerfield adds farm-to-table restaurant

Recorder/Paul Franz
Josean Jimenez of the MRKT Restaurant in South Deerfield with a baby beet salad with arugula, walnut pesto, pickled mustard seeds and burrata cheese.

Recorder/Paul Franz Josean Jimenez of the MRKT Restaurant in South Deerfield with a baby beet salad with arugula, walnut pesto, pickled mustard seeds and burrata cheese. Purchase photo reprints »

— A community restaurant that supports local farming and serves fresh. local ingredients has come to the South Deerfield village.

Former Chef of Del Raye Bar and Grill in Northampton, Josean “Tiny” Jimenez, has brought a new farm-to-table concept to South Deerfield.

At 6B Elm St., the community can visit MRKT, a 60-seat American cuisine restaurant, which opened in November. The restaurant replaces Alina’s Restaurant, which has moved into the site formerly held by Carmelina’s in Hadley.

Jimenez, the chef and owner, has a long history cooking in the Pioneer Valley, especially in his hometown of Northampton. He first began at Mulino’s in Northampton while studying culinary arts at Smith Vocational and Agricultural High School. He then graduated from Connecticut Culinary Institute and became executive chef at the Del Raye for the next 10 years, where he fine-tuned his culinary skills.

After Del Raye closed, Jimenez moved to Boston to work with renowned chef Ken Oringer at two of six restaurants in the Boston area. He worked at Clio, a French-inspired, fine-dining restaurant located inside the Eliot Hotel and Toro, a tapas bar in the South End. Jimenez later returned to western Massachusetts to help a friend open Venus and The Cellar Bar in Easthampton.

Opening his own restaurant had always been a dream of his.

“I’ve always been into cooking,” Jimenez said. “It’s been one of my goals to have my own place.”

Once he returned, Jimenez began to plan for his big dream — a restaurant that provided fresh local food and great service. Jimenez learned that Martin Amaya, owner of Alina’s Restaurant, was moving his restaurant to Hadley and selling the South Deerfield space.

“Deerfield is in the perfect location in the middle of the valley. It’s not too far from Northampton, Amherst and Greenfield,” Jimenez said. “It’s central and there’s lots of farms around the area.” Once he secured the location, Jimenez hired 15 employees, all of whom he has worked with previously.

Jimenez chose the farm-to-table concept based on personal preference. “I like eating local and using local farms and supporting local farms. It’s a natural fit we did farm-to-table here,” Jimenez said.

MRKT works directly with small, local farmers almost exclusively. The menu will change seasonally and according to availability. Currently, produce comes from the Red Fire Farm in Montague, the Kitchen Garden in Sunderland, Atlas Farm in Deerfield and Town Farm in Northampton.

The restaurant serves grass-fed, dry-aged beef from Boyden Farm in Cambridge, Vt., artisanal cheeses from Williamstown and Vermont. Dairy products are also local. Eggs are from Maple Meadow Farm in Salisbury, Vt., the milk is from Mapleline and the butter is from Cabot Creamery.

Despite its white table cloths and lit candles atop the tables, MRKT is a casual restaurant with high-end food.

“We’re shooting for good food and we know where the food is coming from,” Jimenez said.

The restaurant features a mix of French, Italian, Spanish and Latin cuisine.

On the menu, guests can choose starters ranging from steak tartare, baby beets and kale. Entrees include dry, aged rib eye steak, sweet potato gnocchi, and Casco Bay cod.

The restaurant is BYOB, beer and wine only, but Jimenez anticipates having a liquor license by the end of the year. Right now, customers are welcome to buy wine and beer from across the street at The Spirit Shoppe.

Restaurant hours are: dinner Tuesday through Saturday 5 to 10 p.m. Lunch is served Tuesday through Friday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Brunch is held on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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