Chef Berkley Cline says job complements his healthful lifestyle

April 18, 2012|By CHRIS COPLEY |
  • Berkley Cline has a culinary degree from James Rumsey Technical Institute in Hedgesville, W.Va., and works Pure and Simple Cafe in downtown Greencastle, Pa.
By Joe Crocetts/Staff Photographer

Editor's note: This is part of an occasional series of profiles of local restaurant chefs.

Berkley Cline oversees Pure and Simple Cafe in downtown Greencastle, Pa., a mile or so from Interstate 81. The cafe specializes in fresh, healthful food prepared to order. The emphasis is on local and organic foods.

Cline, 46, said he got his culinary degree from James Rumsey Technical Institute in Hedgesville, W.Va. He worked as a cook all over the country — New Jersey, California, Maine. He came back to southcentral Pennsylvania to work as sous chef at the Waynesboro Country Club in the late 1990s. Then John Flannery hired Cline as executive chef at Flannery's on the Square in Mercersburg, Pa. He worked 14-hour days, six days a week.

Then Cline married his wife, Amanda, and decided he wanted his life back.

So, two years ago, he left Flannery's and worked at the kitchen at Washington County Hospital. Shortly after that, when he met Cathy and David Pence, owners of Pure and Simple Cafe, Cline thought he had found his dream job.

Cline took a few minutes just before lunch last week to chat with The Herald-Mail at a corner table in the sunny, high-ceilinged cafe. Cline said Pure and Simple complemented the journey to health he was already on.

"When we got married, the guy who married us said to me, 'You work too much,'" Cline said. "I took that to heart. It's good advice. (Working long hours is) grueling on a marriage."

You came here at a turning point in your life?

When I found this place, it was like, huh. It was at their other (location), real small. They couldn't afford to pay me very much. So I took a huge pay cut, an astronomical pay cut. But my wife was making good money, so we just decided to make it work.

So I came here to learn more. Which I did.

So what sort of restaurant is Pure and Simple?

We're sort of like a Panera Bread, where you come up to a counter and we take your order. We do a lot of simple stuff — salads, soups, wraps.

Do you still get people looking for Greencastle Coffee?

We get a good bit of their coffee business. We're primarily a breakfast and lunch cafe. But, despite (being a cafe), it doesn't really emphasize coffee. (Cathy) is a naturopath. She doesn't like coffee. She doesn't find it overly healthy. More so what people put in the coffee.

Does the owners' approach to health factor into what you do here?

Majorly. Cathy and David Pence, especially Cathy, she has this expectation of what she wants. As a vision. There's a vision here. It's a little different from working at a regular restaurant. (There,) your vision is to make money and to sell good food. But hers is to serve the public and to create an atmosphere where people can come and eat something, and to feel good about it when they leave.

How does that change what you do?

There are certain things I can't do. One of the things she's into is combinations of foods. (For instance:) dairies and (other foods shouldn't be combined). And she doesn't like to combine fruits and meats. It doesn't digest overly well. It'll give you gas, bottom line.

We try not to combine too many fruits with meats. But we do (some). Like peanut butter and jelly —; we do it for kids.

(Cathy) came up with a lot of the menu items. Probably half of them are hers. She started with stuff she was getting people to eat when she counseled them in her house. That's how they got started.

So the cafe grew organically.

Yes. She was counseling people — showing them how to cook easy, simple foods. Relatively inexpensive. Veggie strong. That's how it started. Then I came aboard and (my job was to) take the vision and just go with it.

Tell me more about that vision.

We do everything with a salad. (People) don't eat enough greens. Greens help you digest. We offer a lot of greens. We could be called Salads R Us. So everything comes with a salad or a green of some sort.

We do juicing. 

We pretty much only use olive oil and coconut oil, and some butter for baking. That's it. We do a lot of gluten-free food, a lot of gluten-free baking.

We just try to use fresh products, as fresh as you possibly can. I mean, I'm using 15, 20 people now, getting stuff from. All kinds of organic — vegetables, dairy. I know we just had this scare with raw milk, but we let the raw-milk people come in and sell their milk here.

We're also trying to grow the bakery. But do it in a way that's consistent (with Cathy's vision). We use coconut oils. We use organic flours. We use different flours. We use less sugars. We don't use white sugar. We use a little agave. We use maple syrup that's local. We use honey that's local.

We use even some local flour. There's a guy (who) comes in every week and drops us off flour that was just ground. Flour (from grocery stores) can sometimes be a year old by the time it hits your door.

Do you have any favorite ingredients? Or things you can't use?

We're not going to use pork. It doesn't digest well. We're not going to use hydrogenated oils.

We don't use trans fats. We do use some meats, but sparingly. Like, I'll do lamb and beef from time to time. But organic, or local.

You said earlier you had changed your personal approach to food.

It started in the late '90s. I had a couple brothers with bad health. My dad died at 49. My brothers, one died at 48, one died at 53.

I saw the writing on the wall. Better not do what they're doing, right?

So I did away with sodas, fast foods, stopped eating at Sheetz at 1 in the morning, stopped eating after 6 (in the evening).

Before I even came into this place, I was (making juices at home) and doing smoothies.  So I was well on the way. That's why, when they opened up Pure and Simple and they had juices, I thought, "This is a cool place. This would be a cool place to work."

What sort of styles of food do you do?

I tell you, we do a lot of spice here. We like a lot of spice. We try to do ethnic foods a lot. The owners — for me, my hardest customers to please are the owners. But they like spice. So we do a lot of things on the Tex-Mex side. That would describe us a lot.

So food is important here, but as part of something larger?

Yes. David is also the head pastor at that church over there. It's an independent church, called the Life Center. They started that a few years before Pure and Simple. It all grew off each other. It actually started out (with) Cathy doing this as a mission to help people physically and spiritually. That was the genesis. It's something we don't tell. It is the vision still, to help people. It's an outreach.

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