Frisco: Farm to table: Local harvest dinner
summit daily news
Fresh and organic local produce come to the table at Vinny’s Restaurant in Frisco on Thursday for a High Country Conservation Center fundraiser.
The event is a four-course meal that celebrates the harvest season for gardeners and farmers as well as the local food movement of bringing items to Frisco from within 200 miles.
Jennifer Santry, High Country Conservation Center community programs director – formerly executive director – said vegetables come from as close as Frisco’s The Living Classroom Greenhouse and Nancy’s Garden. Grass-fed beef is being provided by Highlands Ranch in Silverthorne.
“The dinner is part of our sustainable food program to promote local food, farms and gardens,” she said. It’s the third annual event.
Items coming from afar are duck, provided by Grant Family Farms at 145 miles away, and Palisade peaches and apples, hailing from the 162-mile away town on the West Slope.
“The cool thing is we’re working with local farms and community gardens to get local produce donated,” Santry said.
The farm-to-table concept is one that’s gaining momentum across the country, and primarily in Colorado. The Colorado Tourism Office recently had an event showcasing chefs who incorporate local foods in creative ways. It’s part of an initiative to bring attention to the agritourism potential of the state, and links its arms with the Colorado Proud branding effort.
Chef Eric Skokan of Black Cat Farm Table Bistro in Boulder presented a dessert comprised of basil ice cream and heirloom zucchini beignets with summer berries. He described where it originated: His constant challenge to use vegetables harvested from the farm to create the entire meal. How does one create everything from an appetizer to dessert using squash? Skokan figured it out.
“For a dish, it begins at the farm,” Skokan writes about his inspiration. “In the cool quiet of morning, I walk the rows and fields. A chance nibble at a pea, a carrot or a leaf begins the thought of what it might later be… Here is where the building blocks of a dish begin to come together. Then its off quick to the restaurant with the harvest. Just picked vegetables arrive, followed by a quick meeting to plan out the night’s menu.”
The five-course menu was presented outside at the 35-acre Pastures of Plenty organic farm outside of Boulder, owned by Big Bang Catering founder and owner Lyle Davis. It was accompanied by a showcase of Colorado’s beer, wine and spirits sourced from local products.
“Food has a very special and magical journey before it ends up on your plate,” said Daniel Asher, the chef at Denver restaurants Root Down and Linger.
According to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Colorado crops were valued at $2 billion in 2008. Farms in Colorado number about 37,000 and cover roughly 32 million acres, with agribusiness contributing $16 billion to the state economy annually.
It’s more difficult to grow at high elevations like Summit County’s, which means this county focuses more on cattle ranching – a $1.1 million industry in 2007. It’s low compared to the northwest portion of the state and even the southern portion of the state, but being centrally located, food miles for products to reach Summit County can be low.
And preparing local food doesn’t have to be difficult or intricate.
“My approach to food is simple,” Smith Fork Ranch chef Seth Bateman writes. “If you take the best local ingredients at the peak of their season, and cook them simply, you’ll always have great results.”
For the HC3 event, Vinny’s Restaurant is donating staff and chef time as well as the venue – meaning all proceeds go to the nonprofit. Tickets are $50 and do not include beverages or tip. Children cost $20. The goal this year is to have 60 groups seated between 5-8:30 p.m. Last year, participation numbered around 50.
Information from farmers, HC3 board members and community garden plotholders will be available throughout the night.
For more information or to purchase tickets, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call HC3 at (970) 668-5703.
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