At the Arkansas Valley Organic Growers annual Chef’s Dinner Monday night the farmers were the chefs. Wow — these folks not only grow great local food, they can cook it too!
The dinner was hosted by Jay Frost who farms and ranches along the Fountain Creek between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, and was held in his family’s “Big House” with its vaulted timber ceiling, old-style plaster walls, high fireplace and rustic saltillo tile floor. Invited were local farmers and restaurant owners, managers and chefs who use farm-to-table goods in their establishments.
Among the notable dishes were crostini appetizers, a ham slow-cooked with green chiles and onions, slow-roasted beef, bleu cheese coleslaw, black bean and corn salad with roasted pimentos, onions and garlic, buttercup squash soup with red onions and garlic, quinoa salad, whole roasted heads of garlic, lasagna, pumpkin and chocolate cake for dessert. The dishes featured local foods and foods the farmers grew and cooked themselves. That’s Chef Ed Clark of Bon Appétit at Colorado College digging into the farmers’ dishes in the accompanying photo.
The cozy location and great food set the stage for a casual discussion with the farming co-op and restaurant owners, managers and chefs about the past and upcoming years in farm-to-table food.
Also at the dinner, the winter edition of Farm Beet was released and it was announced that the project will be continued in 2012. Look for copies at various locations in Colorado Springs and Pueblo, or read it online by clicking here.
As I told the group myself, this past year has been a tremendous period of growth for me as I worked to tell the “story” of these farmers, learned the geography and landscape of their farms, and got to know each of them on a more personal level. Over the course of the year I’ve been impressed by the way each of these farmers pulls together his or her background, experience and education into growing the best food around. I found they make farming an art, a social-justice issue, a community-building effort, an environmental cause, an experience in revisiting the old ways of farming and an experiment in exploring new methods for the future. For more than 30 years I’ve worked in publishing, academia, business and marketing, but in all that time I can’t say I’ve ever worked with a group of smarter people than this.
And isn’t that the way it should be? We all eat every day and we are what we eat. We should put our greatest minds toward this effort of producing good and nutritious local food.