Experienced chef and entrepreneur Nancy Chirdon Forster is excited to begin her new venture in downtown Milford as she plans to open a culinary school on SW Front Street in April. Using her past experiences as the manager of the Riverfront Market in Wilmington, owner of Nancy’s Riverfront Cafe in Milford and her pure love of the culinary arts, Nancy believes that this new business will continue to drive the larger revitalization effort of downtown Milford.
Known to many in Milford as an exquisite chef that understands how to host gatherings and bring people together , Nancy received her first lesson entertaining audiences as the personal assistant to First Lady Betty Ford from 1975 to 1977. After President Carter was elected to office Nancy returned to her home in Delaware, where her father was stationed at Dover Ar Force Base, and ran the daily operations of the Governor’s House under Governor Pierre S. duPont.
At age 50 Nancy managed the Riverfront Market in Wilmington, Delaware, an indoor European-style marketplace that offers high quality foods from local, independently-owned merchants. As manager, she was in charge of finding vendors to inhabit the indoor market. In 2002 Nancy decided to take her love of fresh, local food and open Nancy’s Riverfront Cafe in downtown Milford, at the location where Good News Food presently stands.
“My favorite part about owning that business was seeing the different types of people coming in from old time Milford families to vacationers wanting to find somewhere to relax away from the beach,” commented Mrs. Forster. “I loved talking with people and I always felt that I was not only welcoming people to my store but to my community.”
As Nancy’s business became more focused on catering she decided to sell the business and became more involved with the Governor’s Commission on Community & Volunteer Service, helping non-profit organizations such as Americorps, Habitat for Humanity and RSVP. As an active volunteer in the Lewes Farmers Market, Nancy was able to infuse her love of cooking with the traditions of her Italian heritage of using fresh, organic produce. Researching several other culinary schools around the nation, she decided downtown Milford would be the location that she could bring a heightened level of awareness to fine cuisine through instruction.
Verde, Nancy’s culinary school, will be opening in April at 20 SW Front Street, the building that historically held The Milford Chronicle and its printing press. The school will host 950 square feet of commercial kitchen and dining area. Nancy will highlight the cuisine of twenty unique regions of Italy while focusing on local, organic ingredients. She also hopes that the school attracts other vendors that have a desire to grow and sell produce year round.
“I love showing people, couples, families how to cook. It is one thing to cook for them but showing them how is so much fun,” commented Nancy. “I can see the building growing into a mini riverfront marketplace, hosting vendors year round.”
Mrs. Forster believes that the cooking school will also help to expand the downtown area to include more than just Walnut Street; she will be the third business to move to SW Front street. She hopes to attract individuals from Milford but also from surrounding cities to experience her school.
“I missed being a part of the downtown and I missed being a part of the community,” stated Nancy. “I miss the people, the dynamics, watching the kids grow up. I am excited to be coming back.”