On Sunday, intern Meredith Stein attended Chefs For Farmers 135-person long-table dinner at Times Ten Cellars. Tell us all about it, Meredith…
Yes, they’ve done it again. Matt and Iris McCallister, the mastermind duo behind Chefs for Farmers, welcomed yet another packed house Sunday evening. This time, the shindig was at Times Ten Cellars in Fort Worth and guests quite literally rubbed elbows with one another as they crammed into the three long tables set up for the feast. Prior to the six-course meal, Times Ten kept the wine flowing as the 135 guests snacked on pizza creations by Jay Jerrier of Il Cane Rosso.
A Matt McCallister original — a roasted sunchoke soup shot — served as the amuse bouche and was followed by a gazpacho with blue crab and a hint of white truffle from Jon Bonnell of Bonnell’s Restaurant. Five of the six wines paired by Grace sommelier Ryan Tedder were products of Dunham Cellars (mighty fine work, Mr. Tedder!).
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Blaine Staniford (also from Grace) served an assortment of smoked fish accompanied by turnips, pickled radish, smoked roe, and a couple slivers of Melba. Dan Landsberg (formerly of Tillman’s Roadhouse) provided one of the tastiest salads I’ve ever tried — a micro-beet salad with sunflower sprouts, baby fennel, watercress goat cheese, baby leek ranch dressing, and tiny potato crisps.
Next up: the braised pork shank atop a cheddar-apple dumpling created by Dena Peterson of Fort Worth’s Modern Art Museum. It was so good that I stole a few bites from my neighbor (Yes, I knew him, and yes, he was a vegetarian, which was the ONLY reason there was anything left on that plate).
By course number five, dinner chatter had steadily increased in volume from polite whispers to full-on yelling across the table (Thank you, wine.) Stomachs were growing full, but Michael Morabito’s (Colonial Country Club) Burgundy Pasture Beef slathered in chickpea panissa, shitake, and bright lights chard forced knifes and forks back into service.
I have to applaud Zach Townsend of Pure Chocolate Desserts’ outstanding finale: pavé with homemade crème fraiche, topped with crystallized organic lavender. Though a little rich for some palettes, I found it perfection.
Following dinner, two shuttle buses transported guests hungry for more to a bonfire at Jim and Janet Lane’s J Bar L Ranch. McCallister piled giant logs onto the fire — his bonfire flame record is 60-feet – as revelers gathered around. Later, a Native American charged in on his Appaloosa (I’m still not entirely sure who he was and where, exactly, he came from), whipped out a flute and chimed in with the campfire music. The capper: handmade marshmallows and hot chocolate — and a keg of homebrew Rahr’s Ugly Pug.
Chefs for Farmers dinners benefit Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County , an organization that provides nutritious meals to older adults and persons with disabilities who live independently. A special round of applause goes out to North Texas farms Burgundy Pasture Beef, Dominion Farms, Scott Farms, and Tassione Farms, all of which provided the fresh ingredients for the dishes.
A third farm-to-table dinner is scheduled for March. Stay tuned…