“Farm to table” dining may have become commonplace on Chicago’s restaurant menus. But Chef Paul Virant was in the vanguard of the movement just 13 years when he opened Vie restaurant in the suburb of Western Springs. And he is all about giving back to the community. Within a recent three-day span, Paul did a cooking demo with the Gardeneers audience for schoolchildren in Englewood, then was the honoree for Angelic Organics Learning Center at their annual dinner.
We at FamilyFarmed conduct most of our work to build a better food system from our base in the city of Chicago. So we relish the opportunities to get into the country and visit the farmers who are the heart and soul of the Good Food movement — such as our trip Monday (July 24) to two of our woman-farmer friends in Pecatonica, a farm town 100 miles to the west with a whole lot of progressive thinking about Good Food growing.
So much amazing food and drink. That’s the simplest way to describe the 2017 Green City Market Chef BBQ, the annual fundraiser for Chicago’s premier farmers market, which brought together a world-class lineup of the city’s farm to table restaurants, along with many of the city’s leading craft breweries and distilleries. It might be indulgent if the only purpose of this event was a ginormous outdoor feast. But the money raised by Green City Market at the event goes toward its social mission programs, which include double bucks for shoppers using SNAP/LINK food assistance dollars, a satellite market in the underserved Bronzeville community every Wednesday through the growing season, and a broadening palette of food education programs.
FamilyFarmed salutes longtime associate Kim Bartko, and wishes her success, as she steps aside to focus on her new business venture: Outbound Lab, which seeks to advance the Good Food movement in the U.S. and around the world by forging partnerships between foreign food innovators and domestic food businesses.
Chelsea Callahan, FamilyFarmed’s Program Assistant, visited Blackberry Farm in the Volunteer State of Tennessee last weekend. This beautiful setting is best known for its world-class hotel and its famed culinary experiences. But the sprawling estate, as the name suggests, is also home to a working farm. And Chelsea found a new hero there, in John Coykendall, master gardener and seed saver.
The FamilyFarmed crew had been talking for a while about taking a Chicago Water Taxi cruise down to lunch in Chinatown, and we finally set a date. What would have been a fun day out in any case became a special occasion when the team was joined by Jenny Yang of Chicago’s Phoenix Bean Tofu — a fast-growing graduate of the first cohort of Fellows in FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Accelerator,
An anniversary is an occasion for celebration. And that is just what Chicago’s Local Foods will be doing this Saturday (June 24) with its Tacos and Tiki Party to mark the 2nd anniversary of its retail store in the city’s Bucktown neighborhood. Anniversaries are also times for reflection, though. As CEO Andrew Lutsey looks back, he views the first two years as successful, but says that it has been a learning experience that has produced some changed expectations and priorities.
As part of its efforts to assist its small business associates, The Hatchery food business incubator held a pop-up market, sponsored by Groupon, at downtown Chicago’s Revival Food Hall on Saturday (June 17). So we dropped by to visit with a bunch of our food-making friends — and to purchase some of their delicious products, of course!
If the mezcal tasting event hosted Wednesday (June 7) by Rick and Deann Bayless proved anything, it is that their Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed love to party around Good Food and artisan beverages. The party — at the Frontera group’s Cruz Blanca on Restaurant Row in Chicago’s West Loop — was a sequel to the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, held April 30 at The Art Institute of Chicago. That fundraiser produced (at latest tally) more than $140,000 in proceeds to be split evenly by Family Farmed and Frontera Farmer Foundation, to advance their efforts to help farmers and businesses build a better food system.
We at FamilyFarmed are proud of all of the written content that we have provided on Good Food on Every Table. But people have been asking us, “Why don’t you do videos? People love videos!” So in the spirit of giving the people what they want, we present “Bob Goes To The Farmers Market,” the premiere of our FamilyFarmed At Play video series.
The organizers who produced the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration took a bit of a gamble by preceding the highly anticipated, chef-driven tasting event with a Good Food Forum. Given that most in the audience were anxious to eat, drink and be merry, the hour-long symposium could have be a buzzkill. But the enlightening, engaging and passionate discussion among five Good Food activists and leaders, deftly moderated by Peter Sagal of NPR’s popular program “Wait, Wait… Don’t Tell Me,” turned out to be a perfect set-up for the food and frivolity that followed.
When you are throwing a big party, the usual measure of success is whether all good time was had by all. By that standard, the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration — marking three decades of Chicago Chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Grill — was a dazzling success. But the event also was a fundraiser for Rick’s Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed… and that also was a success.
Chef Rick Bayless’ Topolobampo — which brought fine-dining regional Mexican cuisine to Chicago in 1989 — won the James Beard Foundation 2017 Outstanding Restaurant Award at the organization’s annual ceremony, held Monday night at his hometown’s Lyric Opera House. The award, which Rick received with wife-business partner Deann Bayless sharing the podium, came just one day after the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration at The Art Institute of Chicago.
Chefs Erling Wu-Bower of Chicago’s Nico Osteria and Cosmo Goss of The Publican are two of the biggest young stars on the city’s and nation’s restaurant scene. So when they went to their boss at the hugely successful One Off Hospitality Group — James Beard Award winning chef Paul Kahan — a few months ago to tell him that they planned to open their own restaurant, Paul says, “Man, my brain exploded.” But Paul himself had benefited from the nurturing and encouragement of the chefs from whom he learned, such as Rick Bayless, and he and his business partners are helping Erling and Cosmo plan and develop their restaurant. All three chefs will participate on Sunday in the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration fundraiser at The Art Institute of Chicago.
Stephanie Izard graduated from University of Michigan in 1998 uncertain about her career path, and her father encouraged her to give culinary school a try. Over the past 17 years, the Chicago and national food scenes have owed Stephanie’s dad their gratitude. Her restaurant Girl & The Goat earned her a James Beard Award in 2013, and she has expanded to her Little Goat Diner and Chinese-themed Duck Duck Goat. Stephanie is a chef-participant in Sunday’s Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration fundraiser at The Art Institute of Chicago, and a lucky bidder in the event’s online silent auction will get to dine at each of her three restaurants.
or many years, Ming’s parents — both immigrants from China — owned, and his mother ran, a restaurant in Dayton, Ohio, called Mandarin Kitchen. Ming worked there during his teen years and showed his obvious talent and passion for cooking. But… this is an ethnic food story with a twist: The reason Ming’s family settled in Dayton was because his father was an aerospace engineer who worked at the nearby Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and Ming initially embarked to follow in his footsteps, earning a degree in mechanical engineering at Yale University. But cooking was never far from his mind, and he embarked on a career that led to his two successful Asian cuisine restaurants in the Boston area and a long career as a TV chef.
Spending time with leading Good Food business executives — at a gorgeous suburban Chicago home or a yacht cruise on Lake Michigan — sounds like reason enough to bid on two of the headline prizes in the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration’s online silent auction. But if you have Good Food business interests and want to learn more about this fast-growing sector that is building a better food system for America, how can you pass up the opportunity to learn from (while partying with) three giants of the Good Food industry: Bill Weiland of Presence Marketing, Brandon Barnholt of KeHe Distributors, and Tony Olson of SPINS, the leading data analyst for the natural and organic products industry.
The folks attending the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration fundraiser on April 30 at The Art Institute of Chicago will be able to bid on some mind-boggling prizes, including a food field trip to Mexico with Chef Rick Bayless, whose 30 years of achievement is being celebrated at the event. But guess what? You can bid for all of those prizes too. That’s because the auction, already under way, is taking place online, and you can compete wherever you are. All you have to do is visit the auction portal, click the prizes your heart desires, and bid.
FamilyFarmed has partnered with Chef Rick Bayless’ Frontera Farmer Foundation to produce the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, a joint fundraiser that will be held on Sunday, April 30 at The Art Institute of Chicago. Good Food on Every Table is running a series of profiles of the participating chefs, and here we feature some of the tributes to Rick Bayless that these chefs made. Their comments focus on Rick’s contributions to the rise of the Good Food movement and to elevating Chicago to the status of an international culinary capital. Each of the excerpts below is followed by a link to the full profile of the quoted chef.
Jason Hammel of the critically acclaimed Lula Café is a rarity among Chicago’s top chefs, in that he did not learn the craft in the kitchens of culinary legends. Jason is essentially self-taught. But he counts Chicago legends such as Rick Bayless, Paul Kahan and Matthias Merges as his role models and mentors. Like them, he has played a major role in sourcing from local and regional farmers. We are honored to have Jason as a participating chef at the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, a joint fundraiser for Chef Rick Bayless‘ Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed, which will be held at The Art Institute of Chicago on Sunday, April 30.