Last night Gary and I had the privilege to serve as two of four judges as the Chefs for Farmers – Farm to Tray dinner at Highland Park Cafeteria….and wow…was it amazing.
Though there is a lot of back and forth on the blogs today about the amount of food that was served…and discarded….the main reasons for the event to occur were successful, a great fund raiser bringing awareness to our local farmers and purveyors, like JuHa Ranch, Texas Heritage Beef, Texas Honey Bee Guild, Cold Springs Farms CSA and Mozarella Company.
Add this to watching the comradery amongst some of the best chefs in Dallas, working the cafeteria line side by side and serving up intensely creative and stunningly beautiful dishes, many using local ingredients from our regional farms and purveyors. The night was a win win – a true celebration of updated comfort classics with a twist, for a wonderful cause…both helping our local farmers, but also with a donation to The Family Place.
250 people were served last night, and though many opted to try everything that was prepared by every chef…many didn’t, and after the event the chefs were packing up what wasn’t used and taking it with them. It may not have been donated, but hopefully it was used for good….probably as a daily special today.
And wow…what a daily special it would be – from Charlie Palmer Chef Scott Romano’s lighter than air Duck Meatballs with homemade pasta and a hearty Bolognese; to decadent Liver and Onions from Chef Brian Luscher of The Grape, filled with a hearty dose of Cognac; to elegant Salisbury Steak with a mushroom sauce and fresh chopped celery and gorgonzola cream from Tim Byers of Smoke; to rich and meaty veal Meatloaf with a sweet barbecue sauce from Dan Landsberg of Hotel Zaza; to mequite smoked, intense and tasty Brisket and Burnt Ends from Justin Fourton and Diane Fourton of Pecan Lodge…they have a stall at the Farmer’s Market….run to visit them as fast as you can…this was amazing brisket; to the nights winning dish from the judges from Chefs Randall Copeland and Nathan Tate of Restaurant Ava in Rockwall – Wild Boar Sloppy Joes with Point Reyes blue cheese cole slaw…wow!! And all washed down with wine from Hall Vineyards and an excellent Texas Vermentino from Duchman Family Winery, cocktails from Deep Eddy Sweet Tea Vodka and my personal favorite, Jello shots from Parigi made with peach puree and Balcones Bourbon from Waco, or a palate cleansing Savory Sorbet from Linn Madsen (the fresh rosemary one was the best!)
Yes, there were a lot of options, but it was a competition, and an opportunity for the chefs to shine amongst not only the lucky attendees of the dinner…but also each other. I am a foodie, a cook, a wanna-be gardener, Farmers Market and local-local farm to table advocate, who loves to entertain and teach people about wine, food and great pairings. Last night was an opportunity to celebate all of these things with some of our finest chefs in Dallas. Bravo Iris and Matt McCallister on a great event. We can’t wait for the next one!