by Steven Doyle
Now in its seventh year, Chefs for Farmers has blossomed into one of the best food and wine events in the state of Texas, and the expansion for the main event was overwhelmingly evident. Started by chef Matt McCallister of FT33 and Iris Midler along with a handful of chef friends and farmers, the first year was a long-table event at Eden’s Garden Organic Garden Center and CSA Farm in Balch Springs that paired eight chefs from five Dallas restaurants for one evening of dining and music to benefit and celebrate our local farms.
photo from a meeting at The Mansion for the first CFF in 2010 Photo by Robert Bostick
The chefs included Abraham Salum and Al Havens of Salum; Bruno Davaillon (then the Mansion now of Bullion fame); Chad Houser (Cafe Momentum); Janice Provost (Parigi Restaurant); Matt McCallister (FT33); Nathan Tate (Rapscallion and Boulevardier); Randall Copeland (then of Resturant Ava in Rockwall, now deceased); and Ryan Tedder (sommelier from 60 Vines). It was a simple yet touching event to watch chefs rally in taste.
Now CFF is a near week long long dining extravaganza that takes a trail through Dallas’ most eminent dining scene with great local chefs and chef friends from across the country leading to the The Main Event under the guidance of Renee Strickland.
The Thursday Bite Night on Thursday, November 2nd held at the Dallas Farmers Market was hosted by Knife chef-owner and two-time Top Chef alum, John Tesar. Tesar enlisted a powerful lineup of Top Chef luminaries such as Katsuji Tanabe (Mexikosher, New York, NY); Brooke Williamson (Hudson House, Redondo Beach, CA) and Annie Pettry (Decca, Louisville, KY). Those who follow the television program, or simply enjoy great dishes were enlightened and enthralled.
Victory Park played host to the returning Street Food Night Market on Saturday, November 4th, where bad ass chefs like David Bancroft (Acre, Auburn, AL) and Justin Brunson(Old Major, Denver, CO) faced off with the likes of Griffin Bufkin (Southern Soul BBQ, St Simons Island, GA) and Josh Harmon (Junction Craft + Kitchen, Dallas). This event was hosted by the lovely and talented Uno Immanivong (Chino Chinatown, Dallas and upcoming Red Stix, Plano) who won last years event with a great international flair of flavor.
All these marvelous events culminated to The Main Event on Sunday, November 5th on the grounds of Oak Lawn Park (formnerly Lee Park) after a two year rain-out and move to Billy Bobs. Attendees sampled sample foods from over 40 chefs, including visiting chefs such as Steve McHugh (CURED at Pearl, San Antonio), John Patterson (Fork, Philadelphia, PA), and Page Pressley (Emmer & Rye, Austin). Attendees snaked the grounds in hot anticipation to enjoy the very best sampling of food, wine and cocktails to the rocking tunes of our favorite godfather of funk and the southwest food movement, and chef-owner of Fearing’s, Dean Fearing.
Photos by Robert Bostick
Highlights at The Main Event included A Bar N Ranch Beer & Smoke Show which paired local Texas craft beers by Ben E Keith Beverage (including Deep Ellum, Community Beer, Bishop Cider and Karbach) with Matt Pittman (Meat Church, Dallas), Matt McCallister (FT33, Dallas) and Robert Lyford(Patina Green Home & Market, McKinney) for waygu tacos, salsas and accompaniments.
Texas Beef Council’s Robert C Hale and Mark Schneider was in the park with Texas Beef Salpicon Sopes with Prickly Pear BBQ Sauce.
The return of the popular Biscuit Bar featuring Jeffery Hobbs The Slow Bone who perpetuates chef Randall “Big Cat” Copeland’s biscuits with Slow Bone Fried Chicken with Bacon & Double Secret Probation Gravy.
Photo by Robert Bostick
Photo by Robert Bostick
We stood ever vigilant at the Mesero Micorita Bar with Tequila Herradura and in the VIP Lounge with a Thermador Bluebonnet Tito’s craft cocktail and Stephen Rogers of Gemma kicking rigatoni with a smoking hot pork ragu and his new restaurant Sachet throwing down One of our favorite dishes of the day, a Moroccan spiced Texas wild boar ribs, with orzo and feta.
The 2017 Chefs for Farmers is now lovingly stowed in the history books but stays with us, at least for a few weeks, with dangerous calories and some of the fondest memories and smiles.