Follow Me Foodie to “From Farms to Forks 4” – A Growing Chefs! Harvest Kitchen Party at PICA

Follow Me Foodie to “From Farms to Forks 4”

A Growing Chefs! Harvest Kitchen Party at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts!

Sunday, October 6 was the 4th annual “From Farms to Forks” dinner fundraiser hosted at Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts on Granville Island. The event supported Growing Chefs! Chefs for Children’s Urban Agriculture. It is a non-profit society based in Vancouver teaching children, families, and the community about growing and cooking food. It encourages and educates kids about healthy eating and food systems.

“From Farms to Forks 4” brought together some of the city’s top chefs and restaurants and paired them with BC’s growers, producers and wineries. Following a cocktail reception, guests were invited on a culinary kitchen adventure. Each kitchen “classroom” featured a couple restaurants with chefs who believe in the “eat local” and sustainable philosophy. The event raised over $18,000 for Growing Chefs!

Growing Chefs! is a charming hands on non-profit which started in 2005 and they have incredible local support. They send chef volunteers into elementary schools over the course of three and a half months (March to June) to work with children. Through the upkeep of an indoor garden, games, food activities and cooking classes, they teach kids “indoor garden to table” eating and nutritional value. It brings children closer to the “root” of their food and how it gets on the table.

Farm to Forks (12)Two “Growing Chefs”, Founder of Growing Chefs!, Merri Schwartz, and Executive Director Helen Stortini

Farm to Forks (28)Another young helper in the kitchen… this is what it’s all about.

Farm to Forks (36)PICA students helping the chefs prepare the food for the evening.

Farm to Forks (37)And the final stage! Full grown chefs: Executive Chef Wesley Young of Wildebeest and Chef/Owner David Gunawan at The Farmer’s Apprentice.

It was great to see everyone working together. Chefs helping chefs, students helping chefs, and then over 200 guests enjoying their finished products. It was a social event within a rather small space (although very appropriate for the message being delivered) and the community support was strong.

Growing Chefs! has a grassroots model and their initiatives are ones I admire. Starting in the classroom is a smart way to reach out to children, but even better is if parents continued the Growing Chefs! philosophy at home. This is one of their few events throughout the year, so mark your calendars for “From Farms to Forks 5”.

To volunteer or learn more their program visit their website here.

On the table:

Farm to Forks (15)The Acorn and North Arm Farm – Hay and Carrots, thumbelina carrot, hay emulsion, pickled shallots, sourdough toast. This was modern in concept and appeal and it was probably my favourite hors d’oeuvres of the night. There were plated dishes and also hors d’oeuveres and each restaurant presented one dish. I wrote about The Acorn here.

Chef Brian Skinner’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: Cook and eat what makes you happy! Also, look to nature in the area you live in for inspiration.

Farm to Forks (16)The Blackbird and Klippers Organic Acres – Crispy Pork Cheek and Fra Diavloa. This was a super fatty pork cheek. I love pork cheek, but this was almost all fat which was intense even for my rich diet.

Chef Alvin Pillay’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: Find a good teacher/chef.

Farm to Forks (32)Burdock and Co. and Sawmill Bay Shellfish Co.– Rosemary Smoked Mussels, pickled garlic, buckwheat shoots. I tried this at Chef Andrea Carlson’s restaurant too – see here. Andrea has been on the Board of Directors for Growing Chefs! since it started.

Chef Andrea Carlson realized she wanted to be a chef at 13 years old after reading the New York Times cookbook. Smart kid!

Farm to Forks (10)Campagnolo Roma and Stoney Paradise – Stoney Paradise Tomato and Eggplant Bruschetta

Chef Nathan Lowey’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: Eat, eat, eat. Try everything, don’t be afraid to taste it again. Our palates are constantly evolving.

Farm to Forks (18)Culinary Capers Catering and Special Events and Helmers’ Organic Farm – Chanterelle and Netted Gem Potato Lasagna with Corn Nage. This was an easy favourite. Who doesn’t love crispy buttered potatoes on creamy sweet corn puree?

Chef Margaret Chishom’s favourite food memory is eating butter fried frogs’ legs as a kid. They would catch them in the morning and eat them for lunch. How French!

Farm to Forks (22)The Farmer’s Apprentice and SOLEfood – Wheat Berry, Lovage, and Fall Vegetable. It was an ambitious dish for a high volume catered event, but I appreciated the attention to detail and labour intensive components including a foam and onion ash sprinkle. I really enjoyed this though and it was more or less representable of his restaurant and style.

Chef David Gunawan’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: Learn to taste, taste, and taste.

Farm to Forks (14)Forage and Hannah Brook Farm – Pickled and Preserved Vegetables of Hannah Brook Farm, potato and herb puree, house-made cracker. I remember trying this at Feast of Fields this year too.

Chef Chris Whittaker’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: Make absolutely sure it is what you love to do.

Farm to Forks (29)Homer St. Café and Bar and Sapo Bravo – Duck and Pork Terrine, tomato jam, pickled autumn vegetables. The terrine was quite well made although breaking a part a bit, but the flavour was there and I liked it. They offer this pork and hazelnut terrine at the restaurant and serve it with apple mustard.

Chef Tret Jordan’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: Make sure your knives are sharp!

Farm to Forks (25)La Pentola and Close to Home Organics at Glen Valley Organic Farm Co-op – Shallots and Venison, parsley sauce, onion puree, roasted shallots, venison salada.

Chef Lucais Syme’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: Don’t be afraid of food.

Farm to Forks (31)Les Faux Bourgeois and Ponderosa Mushrooms and Specialty Foods – Mushrooms on Brioche, sherry cream sauce. It was mushrooms on toast which is a no-brainer and the hint of mustard in the sauce was nice. It was dying for a fried egg on top.

Chef Scott Dicks and Christopher Hughes’s are the chefs at Les Faux Bourgeois. He knew he wanted to be a chef when he first heard the ‘Rebel Yell’ of Emril Legasse: “Baaaaam!” (I’m not sure which chef said this)

Farm to Forks (26)Maenam and Crisp Organics – Panaeng Curry of Beef, roasted shallots, Thai basil. This was a general favourite for everyone. It was a peanutty sweet and savoury curry sauce on coconut rice.

Sous Chef Sean McGuire’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: If you love it, do it – but be ready to work very, very hard for it.

Farm to Forks (9)Pier 73, Pacific Provider and Cropthorne Farm – Crispy Pacific Provider Salmon, tonkatsu sauce, great bear seaweed, yuzu aioli, salmon roe, housemade sembai. The restaurant used to offer pub-style food, but they decided to go a bit more upscale, although not fine dining and still appropriate for all ages. The restaurant has a beautiful view and this was a good hors d’oeuvres.

Chef Brendan Robson realized he wanted to be a chef when he watched his first large halibut being butchered.

Farm to Forks (3)Provence Restaurants and Hazelmere Organic Farm – Basil-Spiked Pumpkin Puree, creamy goats cheese, honey harissa crostini.

Chef/owner Alessandra Quaglia’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: Always expand your horizons, play outside the box, open your palate. Learn to use your hands as opposed to all those fancy kitchen gadgets. Just like in the sandbox – get down and dirty in the kitchen.

Farm to Forks (27)Tableau Bar Bistro and Sapo Bravo – Sapo Bravo’s Eggplant Relish on Savory Waffle, fried chicken oyster.

Chef Marc-Andre’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: Travel lots… read, try new stuff, and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Farm to Forks (30)Wildebeest and Glorious Organics – Fraser Valley Lamb Tartare, glorious organics onions, mustard green emulsion. A few people I met were really hesitant on trying lamb tartare, but it just tastes like beef tartare and I find it less gamey than when it is cooked. This had good texture with the crispy onions. See my post for Wildebeest here.

Chef Jacob Deacon-Evans’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: Taste everything.

Farm to Forks (34)West and Parsons Farm Market – Spiced Squash Cheesecake, banana genoise, orange squash crème anglaise. Pumpkin and squash are great in desserts and Pastry Chef Rhonda Viani offers something very similar at the restaurant.

Pastry Chef Rhonda Viani’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: Only consider it if you absolutely love and are passionate about cooking.

Farm to Forks (35)Miku Restaurant and Parsons Farm Market – Chestnut and Pear Dome, caramel sponge, chestnut mousse, poached pears, coffee, walnut, rum sauce. This had really nice creamy and crispy texture which I find usually missing in moussey cakes. Executive Chef Chris Janik will likely have something similar on his menu soon.

Chef Chris Janik’s best advice for a kid who wants to become a chef: Do not be afraid to be creative.

Farm to Forks (20)Sabrine Dedden (representing Bittered Sling and bartender at West Restaurant) shaking things up.

Sabrine Dredden’s favourite local ingredient is blueberries and her favourite seasonal vegetable is heirloom tomatoes.

Farm to Forks (21)Bittered Sling, Long Table Distillery & Klippers Organic Acres – “After a Day’s Work” cocktail. Go visit her at West Restaurant and see if she’ll make it again. This was a hit.

Chef Jonathan Chovancek of Bittered Sling loves carrots. His wife, bartender and brains behind Bittered Sling, Lauren Mote, loves beets, but they settle on “kale” and “nori”.

Farm to Forks (11)Non-alcoholic beverage by Namasthé – Try their 7th Heaven, and Wild Roots Beer tea. Wine pairings provided by Constellation Canada. Beer by R & B Brewing Co. Oyster Express and The Lobster Man
 provided Fresh Shucked B.C. Oysters. Parting gift by East Van Roasters and Canadian Hazelnut – Harvest Toffee agassiz hazelnut, madagascar cacao nib.

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