by Steven Doyle photos by Joey Stewart
In 2010 I was asked by a band of chefs to meet with them about an event they had planned, and we grouped up in a meeting room at the Mansion on Turtle Creek, then helmed by executive chef Bruno Davaillon. The meeting was fun, and the chefs carved out this notion of a long table event that might possibly be an annual dinner. It would take place on a farm and highlight local farmers and wineries the chefs regularly used. I was smitten with the thought as the meeting went exactly like this:
A unique twilight dinner has been scheduled at Eden’s Garden Organic Garden Center and CSA Farm in Balch Springs that will pair eight chefs from five Dallas restaurants for one evening of dining and music to benefit and celebrate our local farms.
The chefs include Abraham Salum and Al Havens of Salum; Bruno Davaillon of The Mansion on Turtle Creek; Chad Houser and Janice Provost of Parigi Restaurant; Matt McCallister of Stephan Pyles Restaurant; Nathan Tate and Randall Copeland, Resturant Ava of Rockwall; and Ryan Tedder, sommelier of Grace Restaurant Fort Worth.
The farms the chefs to be paired will include Rocky and Celeste Tassiones’ farm in Stephenville; Rockwall’s Barking Cat Farms; The Motley Family of Motley Farms; The Caprino Royale farm near Waco; and Eden’s Garden Organic Garden Center.
The evening will include a five-course wine paired dinner served by the chefs at an 80-seat communal table on Eden’s farm with proceeds to benefit The Gleaning Network of Texas, a grassroots organization that culls surplus fresh produce from farms to alleviate hunger and malnutrition among food-insecure Texans.
The conversation went on to discuss the growing farm-to-table movement that many now are able to call “dining” as this thought has become entrenched into the daily mid-set of our restaurants, much to the credit of the very first Chefs for Farmers event back in 2010.
Fast forward past the event held with a similar, but growing group of chefs at the Highland Park Cafeteria, then the Times Ten Cellars in Fort Worth. Each event new and growing in size each year until it finally landed in what was called Lee Park in Dallas proper where the scope of the event began what we truly know as the Chefs for Farmers, which has become one of the very best food and wine extravaganzas in the nation.
Now set it Dallas Heritage Village just south of downtown Dallas, replete with spiffy turn-of-the-century buildings which depicts early life in Dallas, it only seems accurate to hold the latest incarnation of the near decade old party on the hallowed grounds of what became Dallas. Charged with thousands of visitors, winemakers, brewmasters, chefs and yes, farmers, this event has become a misty dream of its early founders. And we must give great kudos to Iris Midler who has this marvelous talent as event planner, as she has taken Chefs for Farmers to reaches unknown for our city. Chefs for Farmers is now recognized as a top tier food and wine festival worldwide.
The 2019 version was met with splendor, hosting the most talented in the Dallas culinary scene. This year Chefs For Farmers boasts an extensive chef lineup including John Tesar of Knife Steakhouse, Joel Orsini of Izkina, Alex Astranti of Uchi and Uchiba, Dean Fearing of Fearing’s, Donny Sirisavath of Khao Noodle Shop, Robert Lyford of Patina Green, Matt Pitman of Meat Church and Alex Seidel of Fruition Restaurant and Mercantile Dining & Provision. Check out the full line-up here.
A number of breweries, distilleries, wineries and alcohol vendors were at Chefs For Farmers including Maker’s Mark, Basil Hayden, Lange Twins Family Winery, Oyster Bay Wines, Peroni, Willamette Valley Vineyards, Community Beer Co., Tupps Brewery, Whiteclaw Hard Seltzer, Deep Ellum Brewing Company, Wild Acre Brewing Co., and Franconia Brewing Company.
Before the Main event we celebrated a host of other parties including a night at Uchiba, a fete with chefs at 18th and Vine, a majestic farm tour with the Seed Project Foundation at Profound Micro Farm, McKinney Roots and Cartermere Farms in Celina.
Another hot party was the Street Food Night Market in the Victory Park section of Dallas where the streets transformed into an international food scene where guests sampled bites from across the globe, sipped on delicious cocktails, and enjoyed DJ Yuna spinning the night away. From sushi to tacos to crêpes, Dallas went global during this vibrant, international night affair.
Each year the festival has grown to the delights of food enthusiasts from across the nation, and it has been a fascinating scene to watch over the years. This will be a difficult event to beat, to be sure. But just watch, 2020 will be amazing.