In the front room of the former residential home at 1112 Parrett St., local chef Sarah Wolfe sits pulling cushions off chairs and repainting them. Located in Evansville’s Haynie’s Corner Arts District, the home is being renovated into Wolfe’s new restaurant, The Dapper Pig.
A native of Princeton, Indiana, Wolfe has been cooking for a majority of her life. The Dapper Pig, which she will open in July with co-owner Amy Rivers Word-Smith of Evansville, will be her second restaurant. Her first, Farmer’s Daughter, was open from 2009 until 2015, in Princeton.
“I was born and raised here. My family has farmed in Gibson County since the 1870s,” she says. “So I’m truly, truly a farmer’s daughter.”
Wolfe is known for her use of local produce and items in her menus and being one of the forerunners of the farm-to-table movement in Southern Indiana. While food always has been important to her — her family had a garden and she says they worked hard to preserve what they grew — cooking came about as an extension on her early art career and the need for a job. After leaving the Savannah College of Art Design in Savannah, Georgia, Wolfe says she turned to restaurant work.
“I fell into cooking and the restaurant world. Art can be very isolating and I enjoyed the camaraderie of the kitchen and the restaurant world,” she says.
Recently, she and her husband — who were married in August 2014 — visited Italy for 10 days for their honeymoon. Their trip was centered on food, she says, along with visits to many churches. It was her travels there that helped her find her love for cooking once more.
“One of the reasons I closed down Farmer’s Daughter was because I was burnt out; I was so over and done with it. I still kind of struggle with that a little bit,” says Wolfe. “But (that trip) wasn’t just a recharge of my passion for food, it was more of a re-ignition because that flame had been dim for a long time.
“What I love about cooking is when I get to recreate an experience or a memory that is important to both my taste buds and my heart,” she says.
For her, the history of her family’s farm is what pushes her to keep connections with local farmers and purchase their produce for her food.
“It’s a great way to make a significant impact on your local economy. Keeping your money local, you can literally see the impact of your dollars being spent,” she says. “You can put your money where your heart is.”
Dishes at her new restaurant, The Dapper Pig, will be what Wolfe calls new American comfort food. Using an emphasis on local ingredients, she will have a menu consisting of sandwiches, some pastas and pizzas, and salads.
“We’ll have an on-site bakery,” she adds. “Basically bigger, better, and broader than what I was able to do at Farmer’s Daughter.”
For more information about The Dapper Pig, visit facebook.com/DapperPig.