Three top Houston chefs are teaming up to help a local farm recover from a devastating fire. James Beard Award winner Chris Shepherd will be joined by Local Foods chef-partner Dylan Murray and Brandi Key (Dish Society, Daily Gather) at a benefit to assist Atkinson Farm.
Held at the farm this Sunday, May 22 from 2-7 pm, the event will raise money to help the farm recover some of the $175,000 in losses it suffered when a tractor caught fire and burned down the barn it was parked in. The fire destroyed three tractors, two other vehicles, and other pieces of equipment necessary to sustain operations at the property, which covers about 100 acres in Spring (3217 Spring Cypress Rd.).
Despite the challenges, the farm continues to supply Houston restaurants with produce. It also maintains an active presence at the weekly Urban Harvest farmers market and hosts visitors for berry picking.
"I’ve been buying produce from the Atkinson since I worked at Brennan’s, and we continue to work with them to this day," Shepherd, the chef/owner of Underbelly Hospitality, said in a statement. "If you dine at Georgia James, there’s so much on the menu right now that was grown by the Atkinson family — collards, red potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, grape tomatoes. They grow their vegetables with love, and we’re proud to work with them and serve their produce."
"Atkinson Farm is our biggest local farming partner, so we truly rely on them to fulfill our commitment to buying local product," Murray added via email. "We are proud to participate in this fundraiser so they can continue doing they good work."
The buffet meal will feature barbecue brisket prepared by Shepherd. Murray is contributing charred broccoli and green bean salad with toasted sunflower-carrot vinaigrette. Key's Strawberry Watermelon Salad with goat cheese, arugula, cucumber, shaved red onion, mint, lime vinaigrette, and tajin uses multiple Atkinson products, including strawberries, watermelon, cucumbers, and red onion.
The event also includes live music, farm tours, a kids play area, and a raffle. Tickets cost $100 for adults and includes admission for children aged 5 and under. Buy them online.
"Our farmers are our family, and we’ll do anything for them," Shepherd added. "Which is why I’m honored to cook at this benefit to make them whole after their barn fire. I hope so many people come out to support them. As I always say, no farm, no food.”