FamilyFarmed’s Annual Giving Campaign is under way, and to highlight the work we do to build a better food system, we are running a series of profiles of great businesses that have participated in our programs. Today we look at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food EXPO and Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference through the eyes of Luke Saunders of Farmer’s Fridge, the Chicago company whose fresh salad vending machines are changing the way eaters view self-service food options.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator (GFA) staged its annual Application Celebration and Networking Event at Chicago’s 1871 business incubator on Tuesday. It included a panel of four GFA graduates moderated by Scott Mandell, a program “supermentor” who founded hugely successful Enjoy Life Foods. And when Scott asked the alums about the biggest change in their businesses fostered by the Accelerator, the response by Mitch Wasserman of Full Belly Foods drew chuckles from the full-house audience.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mindy Gohr knew from childhood that she wanted to be a pastry chef. She left her family’s dairy farm in Wisconsin to attend the Cordon Bleu culinary school in Chicago, and it did not take long for her to get the big break that has been her career-maker: an internship working at Bittersweet Pastry Shop & Café for founder-owner Judy Contino, one of Chicago’s leading pastry chefs. And in 2015, when Contino decided to move into semi-retirement, Mindy became co-owner. She also will be participating in 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.
Matthias Merges is one of the most important figures in the rise of Chicago to its status as a world-class culinary capital. after a 14-year stint at Charlie Trotter’s — the last 12 of those at the world-renowned restaurant’s chef de cuisine — Matthias went out his own in 2010, and soon after opened Yusho, focused on Japanese street food, and it quickly became the flagship of his extensive Folkart restaurant group. Matthias will be a participating chef at the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration fundraiser on April 30 at The Art Institute of Chicago
Seed 2 Growth Ventures — known more familiarly as S2G — is breaking new ground as a Chicago-based venture capital firm providing capital to cutting-edge food, restaurant and agriculture businesses in the Good Food sector. This innovative “Soil to Shelf” investment model is the reason why FamilyFarmed will present S2G Ventures with its 2017 Good Food Business of the Year Award on Thursday, at its annual Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference at Chicago’s UIC Forum.
The Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference this Thursday (March 16) kicks off FamilyFarmed’s 13th Good Food Festival & Conference — the nation’s longest-running annual event focused on locally and sustainably produced food. Here are our five top reasons to attend
Christine Cikowski and Josh Kulp of Chicago’s Honey Butter Fried Chicken will jointly receive FamilyFarmed’s 2017 Good Food Chef of the Year Award on March 18 at the Good Food Festival — not only for their delicious food, but because of their sustainable and local sourcing and their social conscience.
Though known as a “celebrity chef,” Chicago’s Rick Bayless much prefers to talk about food than to talk about himself. So it was no surprise when he turned an acceptance speech into a loving tribute to the late Julia Child — the TV chef and author who Bayless credits with shaping his culinary career — when he received the second-ever Julia Child Foundation Award at a dinner at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 27.
Rick Bayless received the second-ever Julia Child Award at a ceremony at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History. His speech, marked by humility, focused less on himself than on the huge impact Julia Child had on his own career and on the nation’s food culture. Please enjoy the transcript of his speech.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator held on event to promote applications for its next program session, which runs from November to April. And the four program grads who took part in a panel discussion agreed: Entrepreneurs seeking to scale up their small Good Food business and dramatically expand their networks should apply.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food on Every Table website is launching a new series titled “Growing Young Farmers.” This series will provide a platform for members of this new generation to discuss why they have chosen farming, the opportunities that motivate them, and the challenges as well. And we could not be happier to kick off the series than with this following essay written by Kara Gunthorp of Indiana’s Gunthorp Farms, a leader in sustainable livestock production.
FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator GFBA is accepting applications through Sept. 19 for its third cohort of competitively selected Fellows in its intensive six-month program, which will run from November to April.
Jenny Yang and her Phoenix Tofu company in Chicago are shining examples of how FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Business Accelerator helps food and farm entrepreneurs build their businesses. Yang is launching a major expansion in response to fast-rising demand, which was the subject of a recent profile in the Chicago Tribune. We have republished an article we wrote about her and Phoenix Tofu last year, with a link to the Tribune story.