Growing up in an Italian family in Shelton, food preparation has always been important to Kristine Cybart.
Both her mother and grandmother loved to cook large meals for the family, and Cybart took their passion one step further by going to culinary school and becoming a professional chef.
Cybart recently was named the chef at Common Bond Market, the new natural foods store in Huntington Center that replaced the old Beechwood Market.
She grew up in Huntington and is a 2005 Shelton High School graduate, where she took food prep classes and worked one day a week in the kitchen at the Wesley Village retirement facility.
‘Excited to be working in my hometown’
By age 19, Cybart had graduated from the Lincoln Technical Institute’s Center for Culinary Arts in Shelton and began working in the restaurant field. “I’m excited to now be working in my hometown and be able to bring the food I’m so passionate about to my community,” she said.
For Cybart, 27, that can involve creating vegetarian and vegan versions of the Italian favorites she grew up with.
“I’m able to take the food I grew up with — and Italian food isn’t always the healthiest — and veganize it so even meat-eaters like it,” she said.
Since 2008, she has been a vegan herself — avoiding animal-related products, such as meat, poultry, fish and dairy, and buying only organic food products.
Before coming to Common Bond, Cybart had been working at G-Zen restaurant in Branford, which features organic vegetarian cuisine.
She was excited when she heard a natural foods market was opening only a few minutes from where she lives, meaning she wouldn’t have to travel a few towns away to do her grocery shopping.
Then her interest and background led to Cybart being hired as the new market’s chef.
Market opened in May
Common Bond Market opened in late May, but some of its features are being rolled out over the course of the summer. The deli just recently opened, and the in-house kitchen should open in August.
The market is affiliated with Thyme & Season in Hamden, and is sharing some facilities with that store in the meantime.
When fully operational, Common Bond Market will offer an extensive food bar with fresh daily soups and other offerings.
Customers may now find wraps, sandwiches, salads and similar items as well as the packaged and frozen products, bulk-bin items, and fresh produce they’d expect in a natural foods store.
Cybart already is producing a variety of menu items, and will expand on them in the coming months.