Chef Dylan Murray of Benjy's and Local Foods must have summoned some sort of vegan voodoo to create his gnocchetti with cauliflower cream, butter beans and broccoli rabe, the richness of the concoction making discerning palates swear the dish had to be doused with melted cheese or something with loads of fat. But alas, not the case.
Using local produce grown by Theresa and Mike Atkinson, owners of Atkinson Farms, Murray wowed gourmands at the Urban Harvest "Chefs Get Fresh" food grazing soirée, a fundraiser that paired creative toques with a bounty sourced from local farms and gardens.
For the al fresco party hosted at Underbelly, chef Chris Shepherd, whose piquant Korean stew with goodies from Plant It Forward Farms warmed the mouth and fed the soul, closed the restaurant to pop up a mini market environment, not so dissimilar to what one would find at the Urban Harvest farmers markets at Eastside. Tents around the parking lot lured some 200 supporters with tastings that bespoke that local is better. It all could potentially be the start of a new dinner series.
Tents around the parking lot lured some 200 supporters with tastings that bespoke that local is better.
The imaginative offerings continued with Soren Pedersen's crusted pumpkin cake topped with jalapeno goat cheese fondue, with the dairy provided by Blue Heron Farms; Ara Malekian's succulent slices of roasted pig, courtesy of Harrison Hog Farm, with pineapple reduction over polenta; and fishmonger P.J. Stoops' beautifully visual som tum salad with veggies from Knopp Branch Farms. Stoops sprinkled his traditional green papaya salad with fish candy and prepared it on site using a kruk, a large clay mortar and pestle popular in Thai and Laotian cuisine.
More food? Kipper Club's Richard Knight, Treadsack Group's Benjy Mason and Sugar and Rice's David Leftwich contributed to the efforts that led to the sweet finale, an inventive persimmon study by German Mosquera with fruit from Lightsey Farms plus a melt-in-your-mouth sweet potato pie thanks to vegan queen baker Dylan Carnes of Sinfull Bakery. Carnes sourced her spuds from Gundermann Acres.
Local wine and local beer? Check.
Participating in the feeding fun alongside Urban Harvest executive director Sandra Wicoff, director of farmers markets Tyler Horne and fiancée Ashley Seddon, development manager Libby Kennedy and board president Scott Howard were Stephanie and Bill Kearney, Jim Petersen, Maureen Croft, Garland Kerr, Ed Smith, Lindsey Brown, Nicole Longnecker and Brad Barber.