My wife and I had a blast Sunday night at the Chefs Collaborative's "Seasonal Celebration" held at The Regatta Bar in Cambridge. I have been a member of the Collaborative for a couple of years now, and never miss an opportunity to join with member chefs and farmers as they work together to create magical food from our local, sustainable bounty.
Chefs Collaborative works with chefs, farmers and the greater food community to celebrate local foods and foster a more sustainable food supply. Through their actions, they encourage their members to embrace seasonality, preserve diversity and traditional practices, and support local economies. By providing member chefs with the tools necessary to make sustainable purchasing decisions, and then connecting these chefs with local, sustainable food producers, the Collaborative does a great deal to advance the health of local food economies nationwide.
Sunday's event was special in that it celebrated our region's RAFT (Renewing America’s Food Traditions) Grow-out, in which twenty-eight farmers and thirty-five chefs in Boston, MA; Portsmouth, NH and Providence, RI, participated this year. Each farmer grew some of the sixteen varieties of regionally significant, heirloom vegetables chosen for the project. Seeds were donated to the project by Seed Savers Exchange, Fedco Seeds, and Old Sturbridge Village. Farmers “grew out” these seeds and participating chefs bought the produce, and featured them on their menus.
Friends and supporters of the Collaborative packed the room on Sunday, and were treated to dozens of creative dishes, all featuring local "heirloom" RAFT produce. There was a delicious Boston Marrow Squash Flan from Chef Richard Garcia and his team at Tastings Wine Bar and Bistro, and a fabulous Smoked Taylor Bay Scallop with Caramelized Onion Risotto, all topped with a fresh Pickled Pumpkin Salad from Peter McCarthy and the gang at EVOO.
This year's event allowed the chefs to set up their cooking stations along the perimeter of the main room so that they could meet and greet the guests, and answer questions we all had about the treats they had produced, a definite improvement over last year's event, where the poor fellas (and ladies) were all locked in the kitchen, well out of reach of their fans. Quel dommage!
For all of you committed to eating locally grown, sustainably produced food, and would like to help facilitate the bringing together of like minded chefs and farmers, I encourage you to check-out and support my friends at Chefs Collaborative. It is a terrific organization doing great work for local food communities across the country.
Cheers – Steve