Farm dinners have become a popular facet of “agritourism,” with farms working with chefs to bring “farm to table” dining back to the source. Dozens are held each year just in the Chicago food region alone. But most of the participating farms are well out in the country, requiring a day trip or an overnight stay. That location is what makes The Talking Farm’s dinner on Sept. 10 distinctive. The farm is just outside Chicago’s city limits and a short Sunday drive for most residents of the metropolitan area.
“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.
Jen Rosenthal is one of the most talented urban farmers in Chicago. Now if she could only find a piece of land of her own to continue and expand her Chicago urban farming career.
As a longtime friend of Chicago’s Green City Market, we had been waiting with anticipation for its inaugural evening farmers market at famed Wrigley Field on Thursday (June 15). We are happy to report that the market was everything we expected and more — with the new Park at Wrigley, located right next to the Chicago Cubs’ home field and the team’s new office building, proved a perfect setting on a bright, sunny, hot day. Enjoy this photo essay.
Red is a very fashionable color at Chicago-area farmers market in late spring. The explosion of brilliant colors as the growing season approaches its peak makes visiting your local farmers market an amazing aesthetic experience — a true thing of beauty.
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.
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.
Jen Daniels-Lake grows Certified Naturally Grown vegetables and herbs at her Wild Beet Farm in Indian Creek, Illinois, located 35 miles from downtown Chicago in the northwest suburbs. A member of the Chillinois (Chicago-Illinois) Young Farmers Coalition, Jen has provided permission for Good Food on Every Table to republish the following article about early spring on the half-acre farm.
Matthias Merges is a leader in Chicago’s culinary community. Matthias also, from very early on, has been deeply committed to making Chicago and its communities better. So it’s not surprising that Chef Rick Bayless, was eager to have Matthias participate in the Frontera 30th Anniversary Celebration, a joint fundraiser for his Frontera Farmer Foundation and FamilyFarmed, which will be held at The Art Institute of Chicago on Sunday, April 30.
Windy City Harvest operates four training programs on 13 farm sites that, according to Director of Operations Kelly Larsen, “all aim to create a pathway of opportunity within local food” for urban farmers, including youths from economically challenging circumstances. Larsen will share her experiences and expertise in growing Good Food and Good Food jobs in urban communities tomorrow (Thursday, March 16) as a panelist at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference at Chicago’s UIC Forum.
The demand for better grains, flour and bread is fueling a market surge that is benefiting grain growers in the Midwest and across the United States. Some of these producers are more deeply rooted than others — and one of these is Illinois organic grain farmer Brian Severson, whose family has been growing in east-central Illinois for more than 150 years. Brian Severson Farms/Quality Organics will be an exhibitor at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Trade Show on Friday, March 17 and the Good Food Festival on Saturday, March 18.
Donna and Scott Lehrer gave up corporate work for organic farming near Chicago nearly two decades ago. Their Big Rock Organics at Lamb of God Farm not only provides the food products for their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) subscribers, but also wool for daughter Natasha Lehrer Lewis’ Esther’s Place fiber studio. The farm is a member of Band of Farmers: The Chicagoland CSA Coalition, and will be participating in the CSA Pavilion at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Festival at Chicago’s UIC Forum on Saturday, March 18.
With the average age of farmers in the United States pushing 60, growing a new generation of young farmers is a regional and national priority. One of the most encouraging recent developments in the Chicago area is the creation of Chillinois Young Farmers — the northern Illinois chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition — which is providing a much-needed voice to this important constituency. FamilyFarmed is pleased that “Chillinois,” representing the national organization, will be participating in our Good Food Festival on Saturday, March 18 at Chicago’s UIC Forum.
Chicago is home to some of the most innovative and inspiring urban agriculture projects in the United States. And FamilyFarmed is providing the opportunity to visit three of these sites on a curated Urban Ag Bus Tour — taking place on Saturday, March 18 during our Good Food Festival.
“Growing Young Farmers” is one of the most important themes for our work at FamilyFarmed. That is why FamilyFarmed is so pleased that the 2017 Beginning Farmer of the Year Award ceremony, presented by the Routes to Farm alliance, will kick off our Good Food Trade Show and Policy Conference on Friday, March 17 at the UIC Forum, located on the University of Illinois at Chicago campus. Meet the five finalist farms.
“Good Food movement” and “Local Food movement” are virtually synonymous to a lot of people. Yet the rising tide of consumer demand for Good Food is prompting more and more retailers, wholesalers and chefs to think globally while they act locally. This issue will be examined by the “Does Good Food Need to Be Local” panel at FamilyFarmed’s Good Food Financing & Innovation Conference on March 16.