Chefs for Farmers

We sent intern Meredith Stein to the Chefs for Farmers event Sunday evening. There are times I’m jealous of the interns’ assignments. This would be one of those times. Read her report below.

Sunday evening marked the debut event for Chefs for Farmers, a group with a passion for local ingredients who pair local farmers with local chefs to create market-to-menu dinners. More than 100 attendees were treated to a delectable five-course benefit dinner “down on the farm” by eight of Dallas’ premier chefs. Each of the chefs, who emphasize the support of local farmers, used fresh produce from nearby farms to create each of their masterpieces. Sustainable organic Pinots, Riesling, and Cabernet Sauvignon were also brought out to complement each dish. Even the Dallas Dude himself was there—bon vivant Steven Doyle—who provided his wine-pouring expertise and helped treat guests around the table to a glass-full.

I didn’t know what to expect as I pulled onto the grassy plot covered by black Lexus cars and BMWs and was greeted by a rather colorful rooster bustling about at the entrance of Eden’s Garden Organic Center and CSA Farm. But as I breathed in the sweet smell of fresh hay and horse stables, I was taken back to the glorious summer days I used to spend at my grandparents’ farm in southern Illinois. Also from Illinois, I learned, is farmer-horticulturist Marie Tedei, who kindly provided her beautiful 14-acre farm for the event.

The chefs of the night included Abraham Salum and Al Havens of Salum Restaurant; Bruno Davaillon of Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek; Janice Provost and Chad Houser of Parigi Restaurant; Matt McCallister of Stephan Pyles Restaurant; Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland of Resturant Ava in Rockwall; and Ryan Tedder, sommelier of Grace in Fort Worth.

The evening began with hors d’oeuvres and cocktails, but at 5 p.m. sharp, guests were rounded up and led to a table set for 80 in the middle of Eden’s pasture. Table talk centered around the Rangers’ 7-2 victory (Cowboys chat was stifled, as many were recording the game and didn’t want a spoiler from those checking their iPhones every few minutes). Those around me agreed that Salum’s seared scallop with cucuzza squash and Caprino goat cheese was to die for. Dinner pals included Hung Nguyen, the friendly sake sommelier of Kenichi Dallas; Susan Pollard, “honey bee queen of the DFW area,” who operates the Texas Honeybee Guild; Tedei of Eden’s in all her natural beauty; and Rich and Karen Rogers, who own the fabulous Scardello Artisan Cheese on Oak Lawn. The weather was perfect, the sunset was absolutely gorgeous, and by the end of the night—and after that many glasses of wine—it just felt like one gigantic family dinner.

But the affair was not strictly wining and dining. Every event that Chefs for Farmers holds benefits a different nonprofit. The Gleaning Network of Texas was the nonprofit of the night. Through this grassroots organization, fresh produce surplus from farms are gathered and distributed to alleviate hunger and malnutrition amongst food-insecure Texans. Truly a spectacular cause to complement a spectacular event. —Meredith Stein

Marie Tedei, owner of Eden’s Garden Organic Center and CSA farm
Seared scallop and the table setting
The crowd gathered before dinner.