FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival Saturday caps the organization’s three-day Good Food Festival & Conference. The Festival has a myriad of programs aimed at entertaining, enlightening and inspiring you. The article below is our crack at a top 10 list.
By Taylor Dougherty, FamilyFarmed
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival — its big public celebration of the fast-growing Good Food movement — is this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m at the UIC Forum on the campus of University of Illinois at Chicago. With exciting activities for adults of all ages, and children too, it is hard to boil down the list of things to do. But we think this Top 10 Reasons to Attend the Festival list will be a useful guide.
#10 — Meet The People Who Grow and Make Good Food
The centerpiece of the Good Food Festival is the exhibit floor, which will be a buzzing and exciting space all day. With more than 100 exhibitors, you’ll have ample opportunity to stop and meet the farmers and producers that bring you your food. Even better, many of them will be providing delicious samples and selling their products for you to take home with you! We will have reusable bags so you can shop your way around the Festival.
#9 — Good Food at Your Fingertips
What’s the point in celebrating Good Food if you can’t eat it right there? Saturday’s Good Food Court features some of our favorite Chicago-area eateries: Eastman Egg Company, KitchFix, Big Fork Bacon Sausage, The Eating Well, Tiny But Mighty Popcorn, Trickling Springs Creamery, Gotta B Crepes and Sauce & Bread Kitchen (so don’t fill up on those free samples from our exhibitors!). You can’t possibly go home hungry with all these options for breakfast, lunch and dessert. [A side note: Owners Josh Katt of KitchFix and Ryan Jones of Gotta B Crepes are Fellows in FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator, which helps competitively selected entrepreneurs build their businesses.]
#8 — Festival of Family Fun
The Good Food Festival has always been an event that is fun for the whole family. Our Purple Asparagus Kids’ Corner is back and better than ever, and plenty of our Organic Valley Good Food Commons activities – such as DIY egg dyeing – will delight your kids. They are also sure to enjoy the presentation of the Pilot Light program, which works with Chicago Public Schools to integrate food education in grade schools’ curriculum, and our newest family-friendly feature: the Chicago Public Schools Student Chef Stage, which you can read more about in item #3 below.
#7 — A Farmer’s Road: This Movie Will Get Your Goat (Cheese)
Is there anything better than treats and a movie? A Farmer’s Road is a new documentary film about Prairie Fruits Farm & Creamery in Champaign, Illinois, which makes excellent cheeses and other products from the milk of the goats that are sustainably raised there, and holds a series of “Slow Food” farm dinners. Filmmaker John Murray and farmers Wes Jarrell and Leslie Cooperband from Prairie Fruits will further discuss their dedication to sustainability and food education at a Q&A session after the screening. As an added incentive, there will be a tasting of the Prairie Fruits Farm cheeses and gelatos. The film runs around 75 minutes. (Read more about A Farmer’s Road here.)
#6 — Dye Your Easter Eggs Naturally… and Brew Your Own Kombucha
With the wide variety of do-it-yourself workshops at the Festival, you’re sure to find your new favorite activity. It is Easter weekend, so what could be more appropriate than an egg coloring workshop using natural, plant-based dyes, conducted by Kiva Shogren and Hailey Boudreau of Farmers’ Hen House in Kalona, Iowa? And with kombucha one of the fastest growing segments of the Good Food soft drinks sector, you can learn to brew your own fermented tea at a workshop featuring Hannah Crum, co-author of The Big Book of Kombucha; Susan Fink of Karma Kombucha, based in suburban Chicago (Susan is another Good Food Business Accelerator Fellow); and Alla Shapiro and Vanessa Tortolano of NessAlla in Madison, Wisconsin. Read more about kombucha by clicking here. (But wait, there are more exciting workshops on making great bread and curing ham… keep reading!)
#5 — Become a Master Breadmaker Using Heirloom Grains
The Breadmaking With Heirloom Grains workshop is a must-do for you bakers attending the Good Food Festival. The session will be conducted by Ellen King, head baker and owner of Hewn bakery in suburban Evanston, and Andrea Hazzard, whose Hazzard Free Farm in north-central Illinois grows heirloom grains on farmland first cultivated almost 170 years ago. Learn about why good grains make better tasting — and healthier — bread.
#4 — The Organic Valley Commons: An Anything-But-Common DIY Experience
This year’s Good Food Commons — sponsored by the Organic Valley dairy company — will cover topics from knife skills to kombucha fermentation, and all sorts of things in between. It features rotating mini-classes on subjects under the categories “Make,” “Preserve,” “Grow,” “Compost,” “Raise,” and “Community.” Interested in beeswax? What about herbal elixirs? Creative herb sauces? Without a doubt, the Organic Valley Good Food Commons will have something that interests you throughout the day. So make sure you stop by in between workshops, demos and enjoying the trade floor!
#3 — Watch CPS Students Show Their Culinary Skills
The CPS Student Chef Stage will showcase culinary students from the city’s Prosser Career Academy, in a program sponsored by Miller Poultry. These students were recently featured on WGN-TV during their “Around Town” segment and are now headed to the Good Food Festival to show off their talents. Samples will be provided throughout the day for an interactive experience.
#2 — Watch Great Chefs at Play
Chef-restaurateurs Rick Bayless and Paul Kahan are two of Chicago’s culinary giants, and they are longtime friends of FamilyFarmed. We are thrilled to welcome them for this week’s Chefs at Play cooking demonstrations at the Good Food Festival. Both are longtime champions of sourcing local and sustainably produced ingredients.
In fact, Kahan’s longtime commitment to these practices at the One Off Hospitality Group prompted FamilyFarmed to name him our 2016 Good Food Chef of the Year, and there will be an award ceremony at the Festival (click here to read more about Kahan’s Good Food commitment). He then will conduct a demonstration of the Pilot Light program he co-founded, in which chefs work with Chicago Public Schools to integrate food education into students’ curriculum; he will be joined at this demo by chefs Josh Kulp and Christine Cikowski from Honey Butter Fried Chicken (read more about Pilot Light by clicking here).
This occurs after the Chefs at Play segment gets off to a rousing start with a demo by Bayless, executive chef and owner of Frontera Grill, Topolobampo and XOCO, which are famed for his take on regional Mexican cuisine. Bayless played a huge role in helping established a market for locally produced ingredients in Chicago, and has directly assisted many producers through nonprofit Frontera Farmers Foundation, which you can read more about here.
#1 — Hamming It Up? We Have the Cure
Have you ever wanted to learn how to cure a ham? Are you at least curious now that I’ve suggested the idea? Then the ham curing workshop conducted by Rob Levitt of The Butcher & Larder, from 3 to 4 Saturday afternoon, is just where you’ll want to be. Levitt is one of the city’s leading butchers and his business has grown its clientele since moving from its tiny original store into a much larger space in the Local Foods retail store in Bucktown. Get there early for a seat, because Levitt packed the room for his charcuterie workshop from last year. (Read more about Levitt and The Butcher & Larder here.)
Need any more persuasion to come out to the Midwest’s premier Good Food event? Please click here for full schedule information.