Chefs Just Wanna Have Fun

Farm-to-fork benefit dinner has more great cooks in the kitchen than you can imagine

Houston chefs just wanna have fun at farm-to-fork benefit dinner

Urban Harvest dinner Sarah Schnitzer, Adam Dorris, Justin Yu, Ara Malekian
Sarah Schnitzer, Adam Dorris, Justin Yu, Ara Malekian. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Urban Harvest dinner Ara Malekian and Monica Pope
Ara Malekian, Monica Pope. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Urban Harvest dinner David Leftwich, from left, Randy Rucker and Mark Decker
David Leftwich, Randy Rucker, Mark Decker. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Urban Harvest dinner Marc Melchor, Mary Sommers Pyne, Cullen Geiselman, Jack Christie
Marc Melcher, Mary Sommers Pyne, Cullen Geiselman, Jack Christie. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Urban Harvest dinner Sandra Wicoff, Will Thompson, Laura Thompson, Garland Kerr
Sandra Wicoff, Will Thompson, Laura Thompson, Garland Kerr. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Urban Harvest dinner Shepard Ross, left, and Tyler Horne
Shepard Ross, Tyler Horne. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Urban Harvest dinner Allison Reeves, from left, Nick Deaville, Britni Deaville and Dasha Sklyarova
Allison Reeves, Nick Deaville, Britni Deaville, Dasha Sklyarova. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Urban Harvest dinner Maggie Vermillion, left, and Molly Neff
Maggie Vermillion, Molly Neff. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Urban Harvest dinner David Houston, Rob Neff
David Houston, Rob Neff. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Urban Harvest dinner Olive Hughes, Beverly Robinson, Carolyn Davis
Olive Hughes, Beverly Robinson, Carolyn Davis. Photo by Daniel Ortiz
Urban Harvest dinner Sarah Schnitzer, Adam Dorris, Justin Yu, Ara Malekian
Urban Harvest dinner Ara Malekian and Monica Pope
Urban Harvest dinner David Leftwich, from left, Randy Rucker and Mark Decker
Urban Harvest dinner Marc Melchor, Mary Sommers Pyne, Cullen Geiselman, Jack Christie
Urban Harvest dinner Sandra Wicoff, Will Thompson, Laura Thompson, Garland Kerr
Urban Harvest dinner Shepard Ross, left, and Tyler Horne
Urban Harvest dinner Allison Reeves, from left, Nick Deaville, Britni Deaville and Dasha Sklyarova
Urban Harvest dinner Maggie Vermillion, left, and Molly Neff
Urban Harvest dinner David Houston, Rob Neff
Urban Harvest dinner Olive Hughes, Beverly Robinson, Carolyn Davis

One might think that eight accomplished chefs working in one smallish kitchen would surely be too many toques at the stove. Not so when Monica Pope opened the grills and burners at Sparrow Bar + Cookshop for the recent Urban Harvest farm-to-fork benefit.

A sellout throng of 150 hungry, not to mention lively, campers filled the eatery for a seven-course feast with rounds of hearty applause greeting each chef when introducing their special dish. 

Joining Pope were Mark Decker of Down House, Adam Dorris of Pax Americana, Ara Malekian of Harlem Road Texas BBQ, Dylan Murray of Benjy’s and Local Foods, Soren Pedersen of Currant Kitchen, Randy Rucker of Bramble and Justin Yu of Oxheart. By all accounts, they had a blast behind the scenes.

It was something of an impromptu feast creation with chefs working with the goods delivered from Animal Farm in Cat Spring, Veggie King Farms in Millican, Plant It Forward Farms in Montrose, Atkinson Farms in Spring, Tejas Heritage Farm in Cleveland and Sustainable Harvesters in Hockley.

The last-minute creations included Justin Yu's rabbit stew with mustard greens; Decker's veggie ssam (Korean wrap) comprised of roasted tomatoes, cucumber kimchi, eggplant and puffed rice; and Rucker's roasted kabocha squash with marinated dragon tongue beans, alliums, nasturtium and other flowering plants. 

The enthusiastic locavores included Urban Harvest executive director Sandra Wicoff, farmers market director Tyler Horne, Shepherd Ross and Erin Hicks, Heather Houston, Terri and Ray Thomas, Pam and Keiji Asakura, Marguerite and Chris Johnson, Gail and David Orr and Houston City Council member Jack Christie.

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