Typically, Urban Harvest's Sunday Supper fundraisers feature some of the city's best chefs creating an epic feast that highlights the farm fresh produce sold at Urban Harvest's weekly farmers market. Sadly, the coronavirus pandemic has put those sort of large gatherings on hold.
Like so many organizations, the local non-profit has pivoted by jumping on one of the few positives to come out of social distancing protocols — drive-in movies. On Sunday, November 8, Urban Harvest will host its Sunday Supper at the Moonstruck Drive-In in the Fifth Ward. While attendees watch The Biggest Little Farm, a 2018 film about a couple's quest to open a 200 acre farm and live in harmony with nature, they'll enjoy a four-course meal prepared by chefs who operate booths at the market: Chris Shepherd and Nick Fine of Underbelly Hospitality, Austin Waiter of Tony’s, Becca and Jason Kerr of Little Kitchen HTX, and Elaine Won of Dumpling Haus.
Both Shepherd and Fine tell CultureMap that Underbelly's return to the market has brought a number of benefits beyond an outlet to sell prepared items, sauces, baked goods, and more to hungry customers. "One thing I realized being at that market is that we get to see a bunch of people who don’t feel comfortable visiting our restaurants right now," Fine says.
"I don’t get to work service right now, because I don’t want to be bouncing around and speaking to guests like I used to until we’re a little more relaxed," Shepherd adds. "[At the market], I get to hang out and talk to people, just shooting the shit, basically. It feels good to have that open air town square again."
Selling at the market also allows the company to gauge consumer demand. Customers are buying between 60 and 80 pounds of Shepherd's bacon sausage every week, along with items like Nam Jim (a Thai chili sauce) and jams, which helps paves a pathway to wide retail distribution.
For the taquitos they're planning to serve at the Sunday Supper, Shepherd and Fine will partner with two other recently arrivals at the market: Tatemó, the tortilleria that's drawing major buzz from food enthusiasts, and Feges BBQ, the Greenway Plaza restaurant started by two of Shepherd's former employees, pitmaster Patrick Feges and chef Erin Smith.
"That way there’s three names involved in the market in one dish," Fine says. "The more people we can get involved in this, the more we make the market look good, the more we can have fun, and hang out with our friends."
The rest of the menu looks similarly appealing with dumplings by Dumpling Haus, shrimp and grits by Waiter, and movie snacks from Little Kitchen. Tickets cost $300, which feeds a car of four people. VIP lounge seating packages are also available. Tickets are available online.
"I’m so glad we’re back at the market right now," Fine says. "COVID sucks, but it’s presented a couple cool things for us, and the market is one of them."
Editor's note: CultureMap spoke to Shepherd and Fine prior to Shepherd testing positive for the coronavirus. According to a representative, both chefs conducted the interview while sitting inside a car with the windows rolled down and while wearing masks. CultureMap wishes chef Shepherd a full and speedy recovery.