Catch the Boys on the Minneapolis Home + Garden Show Lifestyle Stage on Thursday, February 26 at 3 pm (for the Twin Cities Live broadcast), then later at 7 pm; and Friday, February 27 at 2 pm and 6 pm.
Most Minnesotans wouldn’t call farming “fabulous” but Josh Kilmer-Purcell and Brent Ridge continue to show us how it’s done—with humor, humility, and now a new line of heirloom tomato sauces in Target. Oh, and a little bit of Martha. (Yes, that Martha.)
It’s such a joy to watch your relationship in its troubles and triumphs. Is it weird to have America so up in your (relationship) business? Will you have a fight and then make up in front of us at the Home + Garden Show?
People love The Fabulous Beekman Boys on the Cooking Channel and even our run on The Amazing Race because we showed a true relationship. So many couples, gay and straight, can see bits of their own relationship in ours. Invariably when we do our meet-and-greets, couples have already decided who's the “Brent” and who's the “Josh.”
Your show has put Sharon Springs, New York, on the map—thousands come for your Harvest Festivals. How are you handling your place in the community, and how is Sharon Springs handling its growth and new identity?
In 2014 the festival grew to about 15,000 people during its course of the two days. We counted people from 22 different states and three continents. The population of Sharon Springs is only 547 and our main street only half a mile long, so it does indeed take a village to pull the festival off. But this is the spirit of Sharon Springs. It's a community working together to put its best foot forward.
Let’s talk Martha Stewart. On your show, she’s sometimes a phantom, sometimes an “aspirational” rival. She obviously has had a huge influence on you. (And all of us.) What does Martha mean to you? How do you see her in your lives?
Martha has been a tremendous supporter of our company, Beekman 1802, since the first day of business. When Epicurious called us “the next Martha Stewarts,” we joked that it took two men to equal one of her. Her one-word response was “Yes.” We can leave it at that.
Your products are designed with farm-like function in mind, but not farm-exclusive function. (I especially love the apron with the built-in potholders.) What are you most proud of right now?
We always imagined that Beekman 1802 would be a farm bigger than its fences. Every season is an endless well of inspiration for the products we create. Right now we are most proud of our Mortgage Lifter project—a line of slow-cooked pasta sauces using heirloom tomatoes. The line launched in Target in November, and we give back 25 percent of the profits to help other small but brilliant farms.
In the first season of your show, farmer John makes the statement that, “It has to be in you to be a farmer.” (And then he says that perhaps it is not in Brent.) Is it in you now?
We do consider ourselves farmers. In the modern age, it takes many different hats to run a successful farm, from creating value-added products to marketing them to making sure the books balance. We are not afraid to roll up our sleeves no matter what the task.
Here in the Midwest, farming has always been a lifestyle—but not always with a Martha-Stewart-sized capital “L”. Do you feel intimidated by us? Your audience will be filled with people who’ve been making blue-ribbon pies and pickles for generations. Some of us have rendered our own lard.
We render our own lard! It’s amazing what you can learn by asking your neighbors some questions and by Googling.
And now for those Home + Garden Show attendees who are coming from across the river. Josh: How has your Wisconsin upbringing influenced Beekman 1802?
We make one of the best and most sought-after cheeses in the world—Beekman 1802 Blaak. Enough said.