Photos by Joey Stewart
Dallas’ favorite foodie event, Chefs for Farmers’ Main Event, returned on November 6 at Old City Park with the largest number of attendees in the festival’s history. This year’s event was extra special, as more than 3,000 food fanatics came together to celebrate the food and wine festival’s 11th year, with this year’s event benefiting the Seed Project Foundation’s McKinney Roots. The historic park made the perfect backdrop for the day’s activities, highlighting an acclaimed lineup of artisans, 12 local farmers, and 68 talented local and out-of-town chefs. The days leading up to Main Event held several fun-filled Chefs for Farmers events including the intimate From Dirt to Dish dinners, the North MEATS South feast, DEVOUR: The Ultimate Bite Night at The Exchange, and Farm Tour hosted by the Seed Project Foundation. The Main Event was the grand finale of an engaging Chefs for Farmers weekend, and to top it off, the festival raised nearly $40,000 for the Seed Project Foundation’s McKinney Roots.
“Chefs For Farmers 2022 was bigger and better than we ever could have imagined,” said Iris Midler, founder and producer of Chefs For Farmers. “As our number of attendees has grown, so has the impact we’ve been able to make on our charitable partner. It was amazing to watch the North Texas community come together to support this mission. Each year surprises us more than the last and we are truly thrilled to see what year twelve has in store.”
VIP hour kicked off at 2 p.m. when guests began piling into the park, ready to experience the festivities. Upon entrance, Dallasites received a custom Chefs For Farmers wine glass with a lanyard courtesy of Celebrity Cruises – a fitting (and practical) gift for an all-you-can-drink festival. In addition to the plethora of food and cocktail options, the adult playground was adorned with fun lawn games such as a massive mustache seesaw, corn hole, and life-size beer pong to enjoy all day long along with luxury cars by the festival’s official auto partner, Infiniti.
VIPs were pampered with luxury cocktails and offered exclusive bites like Braised Beef Short Rib with Pomegranate and Sweet Potato from James Johnson of Pappas Steakhouse, Grilled Rosewood Beef Tongue from Christian Dortch of Georgie by Curtis Stone, Thai Style Grilled Lamb Chops (enormous) from Justin Brunson of Brunson & Son Meat Co., Corn and Crab Frito Pie from Casey Thompson of Folktable Restaurant, Fried Chicken and New England Lobster Ravioli and Caviar from John Tesar of Knife Steakhouse and Joshua Smith of All Fresh, and many more. The VIP lounge was better than ever before – including a Casamigos Tequila Bar adorned with oversized Adirondack chairs, libations provided by Moët Hennessy and Yuengling from a giant 360-degree bar, and freshly handcrafted sodas and teas from La Maison Bleue Café along with a cotton candy machine for a sweet finish.
The fun didn’t stop there. Guests ate and drank their way through the park, exploring the multitude of mouth-watering experiences, including 150 food and beverage booths. There were also several new immersive attractions and destinations, including the Rosewood Ranches Beef, Beer & Bourbon Lounge which featured some signature Rosewood Ranches beef bites, fresh off the grill prepared by Chefs Michael Scott, Kent Rathbun and Nolan Belcher of B4 Barbeque & Boba paired with Maker’s Mark and WhistlePig cocktails and craft beer from Yuengling,along with a hat bar pop-up from Felt and Feather, where guests could purchase and customize their own felt hats.
Returning from last year’s event was the Eataly Dallas Rosé Garden, where guests filled the space and indulged in delicious Italian cuisine, gelato, and a variety of rosés provided by the local eatery and sponsor, Eataly Dallas. Guests were spotted snapping away in front of a 3D floral-filled photo booth. Following the VIP hour, a drum line started the party with an entertaining performance that carried on throughout the event.
The American Airlines AAdvantage Mastercard Lounge returned again this year, and cardholders popped in throughout the event to receive signed copies of “Spectacular Spreads: 50 Amazing Spreads for Any Occasion,” by well-regarded author Maegan Brown, known as the BakerMama, and “Knife: Texas Steakhouse Meals at Home” by Michelin-star chef John Tesar.
To commence the event, Iris Midler announced the winner of the best bite award that went to Burger Schmurger’s Dave Culwell and his farm partner, Profound Farms, who were each awarded 50K in airline miles. The winning dish was Culwell’s signature Maverick Burger, a Double Smashed Cheeseburger made with Honor Wagyu Meat with a Smoked Pork Belly Bacon Jam on an Inverted Hamburger Bun. In addition, Midler surprised guests and partnered with Texas staple, Pappas Steakhouse, to present a check of $14,000 to North Texas Food Bank, in the festival’s commitment to give back to the community and fight hunger in North Texas.
The entire weekend consisted of a jam-packed lineup of Chefs For Farmers events. Prior to the Main event, Chefs For Farmers celebrated a host of other parties, including two From Dirt to Dish dinners on November 3 and 4, the first hosted by Chefs Andrea Shackelford and Andy Knudson of Water Boy Farms, and the second by Chefs Alex Seidel and Rebecca Weitzman of Bonton Farms. At Knife Plano, Chefs John Tesar and Junior Borges hosted North MEATS South on Thursday, November 3, a decadent feast for the ages featuring delectable meats and craft beverages. For its second year, DEVOUR: The Ultimate Bite Night returned to The Exchange in the AT&T Discovery District on Thursday, November 3, where 1,000 guests sampled bites from 14 local, downtown favorite restaurants and sipped on delicious cocktails. Just one day before Main Event, an intimate group of guests took an interactive farm tour with The Seed Project Foundation to three family-run farms including McKinney Roots, N&P Farm and Dairy, and Profound Microfarms, where they enjoyed Texas-made drinks and seasonal dishes from Chefs Andrea Shackelford and Joel Orsini. 100% of Farm Tour proceeds went to the Seed Project Foundation’s McKinney Roots.
Festival guests walked away from the weekend with full stomachs and hearts, following a fun-filled and impactful few days. Through Chefs for Farmers, guests have the chance to connect with the chefs and farmers critical to the food and beverage landscape in Texas and throughout the country – all while tapping into their inner foodie for a weekend.
About The Seed Project Foundation’s McKinney Roots:
The Seed Project Foundation (SPF) funds educational, agricultural, and community initiatives that support sustainability. Sustainability is a social challenge that improves the current quality of life without compromising future generations. The Foundation was established on the premise that funding sustainable ideas today will support ecological and social balance in the future. Providing seed money for causes that enhance the principles of sustainability is our mission.
Since 2020, the SPF has operated McKinney Roots, a food donation garden in McKinney that supplies fresh, organic produce to the food insecure by growing and distributing it to local nonprofits, churches, and schools. A few of McKinney Roots’ current nonprofit partners include the Samaritan Inn (Collin County’s only homeless shelter), Community Garden Kitchen, McKinney Little Free Pantry, and Community Lifeline Center. McKinney Roots grew and donated over 10,000 pounds of organic produce in 2021 and aims to double that number in 2022. Volunteer or donate to help McKinney Roots keep growing more to give at www.mckinneyroots.org.
The SPF hosts a series of events every year to support the North Texas farming community. Our Symposiums feature expert speakers and serve as networking events for farmers, ranchers, chefs, restaurateurs, and local food advocates. Our Farm Tours foster connections between the public and local farming community, educating participants on how our food is grown and highlighting the farmers that do it. The Farm Crisis Fund (FCF) was initiated to help our local farmers and ranchers in times of natural disaster and economic crisis. Recently, we distributed over $74,000 to eight local farms to help them stay in business through the COVID-19 crisis and Winter Storm Uri.