NEWTON, NJ - About 75 guests each enjoyed seven course dinners prepared by well-known area chefs this past Sunday, at the Farm-to-Fork Celebration to benefit the Foodshed Alliance.
Celebrated at Andre's Restaurant & Wine Boutique, guests mingled first for an appetizer/cocktail hour with wine pairing, before settling in for their seven course dinner. Each course, which was created by one of the chefs, was also matched up with a special wine from either Ventimiglia or Alba Vineyards.
All featured appetizers, entrees, and dessert items, were made with locally grown and produced items.
"They put together an amazing meal," said Kendrya Close, Director of the Foodshed Alliance, of the sold out event.
Close described attendees as a lot of "new and familiar faces," with longtime followers, as well as area farmers, in attendance, and those new to the Foodshed Alliance, and its mission, also enjoying the evening.
“I’m a farmer, they use my watercress here,” said Richard Vohden after walking in the door.
Vohden is the Deputy Director of the Sussex County Freeholders, and has been a Green Township Farmer since 1983. Some other items he farms are raspberries, asparagus, and poultry.
Ellie Benz, and Rich Kelsey, also are regular attendees, and own a farm. They harvest their own mushrooms they said, for their own use.
“We love this event,” said Benz. “This is so much fun, it’s local and seasonal.”
During the event, Close told guests, "We ask you to get out of your supermarket."
Close said some supermarkets participate in "greenwashing," which is deceptive marketing that an organization is taking environmentally-conscious steps when they are not. She suggested if shopping in a supermarket that asserts it is making "farm to table," practices, to ask a lot of questions of the grocers.
"We need real farmers who grow real foods," Close added.
"Real farmers grew this food," she emphasized to guests about the meal.
Participating farms, vendors, and wineries, that supplied the ingredients, included: Alba Vineyard, Best Fruit Farm, Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse, Community Supported Garden at Genesis Farm, Dutch Hill Preserves, Fossil Farms, High Point Brewery, Hudson Farms, LL Pittenger Farm, Perona Farms, Race Farm, Rustic Oak Grove Mills, Saltopia, Ventimiglia Vineyard, and Viking Village Seafood.
Guest chefs for the evening were: Andre de Waal (chef/owner Andre's Restaurant & Wine Boutique, Newton, N.J.), Kirk Avondoglio (chef/owner Perona Farms, Andover, N.J.), Brad Boyle (chef/owner Salt Gastropub, Byram, N.J.), Chef Jesse Jones (private celebrity chef, caterer, host of "Chef Jesse Live"), George Mandakas (chef/owner, Innova Cuisine, Lafayette, N.J.), Dan Rothman (Whole Foods Metro Chef, Northern, N.J.), and Jonathan and Nina White (chef/owner/cheese maker/baker, Bobolink Dairy & Bakehouse, Milford, N.J.).
The chefs teamed up, preparing meals together, and assisting each other with the production of each gastronomic creation.
"We've all known each other for years," said Mandakis, who describes his talent as "Molecular Gastronomy," which is a style of cooking employing modern techniques. "When we have an opportunity to present our foods, and present our foods with friends, it's great."
Appetizers the chefs designed included: North Carolina inspired BBQ Fossil Farms Lamb Ribs, Hudson Farms Pheasant Satay with Ginger Peanut Sauce, Delaware Bay Oysters on the Half Shell with Ventimiglia Buon Giorno Foam Mignonette and Pomegranate Pink Peppercorn Pearls, Soy Marinated Sushi Grade Offshore New Jersey Yellowfin Tuna atop Wasabi Dusted Race Farm Kale Chips with Pickled Carrots, Perona Farms Smoked Salmon Canapé, CSG at Genesis Farm Winter Empanadas with Pocono Pimenton Sauce, Bobolink Dairy Bobo Ssam Wrapped in CSG at Genesis Farm Swiss Chard, and Wood-fired Rustic Breads from Bobolink Dairy with Saltopia Infused Sea Salted Butters.
For dinner, Avondoglio created the first course, which was the Seared Viking Village Sea Scallop with Race Farm Swiss Chard, and Carrot Butter. Jones fashioned the second course, which was a Carolina-Brined LL Pittenger Farm Chicken Breast with a candied Race Farm Sweet Potato Purée, and also served with Sauté Spinach, Pickled Green, and BBQ Jus. Boyle produced a Best Fruit Farm Apple Cider Brined and Irish Whiskey/Applewood Smoked LL Pittenger Berkshire Pork Loin with a Race Farm Brussel Sprout and LL Pittenger Smoked Bacon Mash and a Best Fruit Farm Apple Cider Gastrique for the third course. Mandakas spearheaded the fourth course, which was a Rustic Oak Grove Mills Polenta with LL Pittenger Farms Beef and Wild Mushroom Ragu. Rothman conceptualizer the fifth course of Pine Roasted Loin and Sausage of Venison, with onion and local foraged juniper compote, warm salad of CSG at Genesis Farms, wheatberry and butternut squash. The sixth course was the cheese course, served up with assorted 100 percent grass-fed cow's milk cheese by Jonathan White, and wood-fired rustic breads by Nina White. The seventh course was dessert by de Waal, and Kimarie Santiago. Roasted CSG at Genesis Farm Beet Gateau, Dutch Hill Preserves Maple Ice Cream, and Sasparilla were on the menu from de Waal, and Santiago added hand rolled Belgian Truffles dusted with Saltopia infused sea salts.
Jim Passafaro, who owns is own contracting business, and is a friend of de Waal’s, volunteered his time helping at the event, and has at events prior.
“It’s a great event,” said Passafaro, as he took a quick break from helping the chefs and staff.
“We love to have it [Farm-to-Fork Celebration] here,” said Tracey de Waal, Andre’s wife, and co-owner of Andre’s Restaurant & Wine Boutique.
There’s a little bit camaraderie, hospitality, and with good food and wine,” summed up Andre de Waal.
The Foodshed Alliance describes itself on its website as a "grassroots non-profit devoted to promoting sustainable farming and locally grown, fresh, healthy food in northwestern New Jersey."
Click here for the organization's website.
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