On the evening of Sunday, June 28th farmers put down their pitchforks and chefs their spatulas. They headed over to the The Bright Room on the third floor of The Staircase Theatre for Hamilton Eat Local’s and Slow Food Hamilton's first-ever “Chef’s Night Out: Local Food -- Local Heroes” event. Guests were greeted with live acoustic music by singer-songwriter and guitarist, Ian Reid. Locavore Chef Sam Robertson served up free range Omani spiced chicken skewers, deliciously home-cut French fries, cucumber chips with dip, bite size hamburgers, their famous "bread and spreads", and delicate little pots of crème brûlée for our guests to taste and admire. Complementing these finger foods were beverages served by Daniel Speck of Henry of Pelham Family Estate Winery and Jason and Rachel Hofing of Red Hill Coffee Trade.
The documentary film Tableland showed real-life examples of a vision many of our guests share. Tableland focused on food systems where little stands between the farmers planting their seeds, the chefs garnishing their dishes, and the diners enjoying the fruits of their joint labours.
Excited and inspired, our panel discussion consisting of Jeff Crump of Ancaster Old Mill, Chris Krucker of ManoRun Organic Farm, Daniel Speck of Henry of Pelham, and Barbara Ramsay-Orr of Hamilton Magazine began a discussion on how field-to-table can become a greater reality here in Hamilton. In next to no time, the entire room joined in the discussion: farmers recommended strategies that have worked for them, chefs offered their concerns, and the current larger, more dominant food systems were called into question.
The panel was introduced by Lori Stahlbrand, founder and president of Local Food Plus, and Slow Food Niagara's Karen LaVigne, of Selections de la Vigne introduced the film and brought along copies available for sale (which sold out!). Hamilton Eat Local's new "Local Food Resource Guide for Chefs" is now available, just contact Project Manager Karen Burson for your copy: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Special thanks go out to William Dam Seeds, Red Hill Coffee Trade, Sherlea Acres, and the Ottawa St. Farmers Market for providing market bags full of local goodies and assorted local food resources for our guests to take home. As well, thank you to Joanne Feddes of LaPrimavera Farms who’s fresh local delphiniums were complemented by many.
“Chef’s Night Out” was funded by Friends of The Greenbelt Foundation (www.greenbelt.ca) with the intention of providing these two influential contributors of our food culture an opportunity to meet, share, and re-create.