With an event called Barns, Farms and Wicked Chefs one is certainly curious to know what clever brain pulled that name together.
Nancy Wildgoose, Executive Director of Perth's, The Table Community Food Centre, casually suggested that it came about effortlessly with some crazy group brainstorming.
After all, it so aptly describes the event, where Farmers and Chefs are joining forces to showcase the best that Lanark County has to offer in one of the county's most idyllic country settings - the historic Barns of Ecotay.
The movable feast gala on Saturday, August 24 hopes to live up to the buzz of their inaugural sellout last year. As far as foodie festivals go, you have yourself a deal.
This is the largest fundraising event for the organization this year and it's critical that it goes well. The proceeds from the event will be used to buy produce from environmentally sustainable, small local farms for use in meals, hampers and the kitchen at The Table Community Food Centre. Another important objective of the event, is to provide an opportunity for dialogue to get the word out. Many people have not heard of The Table or know of its good work. This event can get people talking. Hopefully even becoming active participants.
Joining Nancy on the organizing team, is The Table's own 'wicked chef', Judy Dempsey. Although it has been a few years since her days cooking at her former restaurant, The Hungry Planet, people I talk to still know Chef Judy for her legacy there. Over a decade of serving great food has garnered her a reputation. High praise indeed.
|Judy Dempsey, Community Chef at The Table Community Food Centre in Perth|
In addition to her regular duties as Community Chef, Judy has been working tirelessly on the fundraiser to pull the food components together. Organizing the participating chefs and farmers is a huge undertaking.
Meanwhile, she has already crafted her dish for the event. She wants to do an open-faced lamb burger on a baby focaccia, topped with a combo feta/chèvre spread, a lemon garlic mayonnaise and a Mediterranean style pico de gallo. She tells more about it in this week's Ottawa Citizen.
Our paths keep crossing, and last month I stopped into The Table in Perth to volunteer at one of their drop-in classes as part of their food skills program, run by Rosie Kerr, Community Kitchen Coordinator. Here, I saw first hand where Nancy, Judy, Rosie and their colleagues spend their days and share their food talents and passion. I rounded out my visit that day with a tour by Wendy Quarrington of the Good Food Bank. It is a progressive concept where a points allocation allows the clients to 'shop' at the Good Food Bank 'grocery store'.
Some people might think of Perth as a retirement community focused solely on leisure. If you think it's just about golf, spa days, shopping and the arts, it's not. Perth is showing itself to be a very caring and supportive community for those among them in need and at risk.
There is a desire to improve food access and food skills to those most vulnerable. This includes community meals, a progressive food bank, food skills classes plus a new and growing 8000 square foot community garden. They also provide support through their social justice and advocacy office.
The Table is a unique program in the heart of Perth that took off in 2011, with support from the acclaimed Community Food Centre in Toronto called The Stop. In 2010 The Stop was looking to replicate their highly visible and successful program in other communities in need.
Nancy Wildgoose says they flirted outrageously with The Stop to make sure they knew every nuance and detail about what Perth had to offer. Perth was hopeful that they would be picked since they had already secured a suitable building, they had been awarded a substantial Trillium grant - the biggest grant that could be given in the area, and they were already headed in the direction of developing new programs, growing beyond just a basic food bank. Last but not least, they had a strong board and local support.
|Nancy Wildgoose, Executive Director at The Table Community Food Centre in Perth|
From the selection process, The Stop picked both Perth and Stratford. The goal is to have 15 partnership sites across Canada by 2017. Perth is quite happy to be an early adopter.
I returned to Perth last Friday to enjoy lunch at a new restaurant called The Masonry. Owner-chef, Kyle Woods, will be one of the eight chefs serving up local fare at Barns, Farms and Wicked Chefs. He is new to the Perth food scene, only opening his farm-to-table breakfast/lunch eatery last month. A post lunch chat with Chef Woods had me convinced that his place was off to a great start and he had the 'giving back' commitment that would make The Table's fundraiser a success, second year running.
Kyle's dish will have two presentations of beef - cold and hot. First, an herbed beef carpaccio with grilled corn & bacon relish and a roasted shallot mayonnaise. The second will be seared beef with cauliflower purée, fondant potato and maple cranberry gastrique. That sounds pretty appetizing to me! But I know chefs well enough that they are continually tinkering. Between their ever evolving ideas and the limitation of what will actually be in the pantry on game day, I sure won't be surprised if the menu changes up a bit.
|Kyle Woods, owner-chef at The Masonry restaurant in Perth|
On my regular weekend stroll to the Westboro location of the Ottawa Farmers' Market last Saturday, I picked up a beautiful sheep's tomme from Cait and Kyle White of Milkhouse Farm & Dairy. It was their first time out to the market this season and their cheese was moving quickly. As new farmers in their 20's and active members of the food community, the White's are pleased to be part of the gala again this year. Milkhouse is one of the farms providing their unique artisan cheeses.
|Kyle and Cait White of Milkhouse Farm & Dairy near Smith Falls|
The event was a sellout last year and they hope this year's 350 tickets will be sold before the 24th, now just two weeks away.
Joining Judy Dempsey and Kyle Woods as creators at the movable feast will also be:
Joanne Edwards of The Cove in Westport [vegetarian]
Jesse Denton of Santé in Ottawa [pork]
Andrew Chatham from The Whalesbone in Ottawa [oysters]
Michael McKenzie from Seed to Sausage near Sharbot Lake [charcuterie]
Gita Seaton from Nouveau Palais in Montreal [goat]
Dressed in your country casuals, you will also be enjoying the jazz and folk music of The Tim Murray Quartet, String Tease and also Ghost Pipes. Sip away on your cold ones from Perth Brewing Co. and Kichesippi Beer Co. Or perhaps a select PEC wine. A cup of Coutts & Company coffee will round out your meal as you enjoy desserts and chocolates.
Interested Ottawa foodies will recognize many of the producers/farmers whose product will be on the plates:
Seed to Sausage near Sharbot Lake [Charcuterie]
Back Forty Artisan Cheese in the Lanark Highlands [Cheese]
Milkhouse Farm and Dairy near Smith Falls [Cheese]
Kricklewood Farm near Frankville [Cold-pressed Sunflower Oil]
Clarmell on the Rideau near Manotick [Cheese]
Miller's Bay Farm near Lombardy [Beef and Pork]
Campton Farm [Pork]
Parks Family Farm near Maberly [Goat]
Jameshaven Farm near Bathurst [Chicken]
Windblest Farm near Ferguson's Falls [Lamb]
The Table Community Food Centre in Perth [Garlic]
Temple's Sugar Bush near Ferguson's Falls [Desserts]
Fine Chocolate by Ludwig near Crow Lake [Chocolate]
IN SHORT, THE PARTICULARS OF THE EVENING:
- Saturday, August 24 - 5:30 to 10 pm
- EcoTay, 942 Upper Scotch Line, Perth Ontario
- $100/pp Tickets purchase through Tickets Please or by phoning 613.485.6434 (tax receipt for $70 of ticket price)
- Direct donations to The Table accepted online (tax receipt for full amount)
- More information on The Table’s event website