Aug 25, 2011 Jason Emerson Uncategorized
As a way to celebrate the abundance of locally grown and produced foods in Central New York, Baltimore Woods Nature Center is hosting its inaugural “envIRONmental CHEF homegrown” competition and fundraiser, which will feature four CNY regional chefs — three of whom are from Skaneateles — at Baltimore Woods in mid-September.
“Baltimore Woods Nature Center’s mission is to connect people with the natural world surrounding us. Since food is one of our most fundamental connections to nature, an event showcasing the many ways to eat locally, and the benefits to our physical, mental and community health is an important part of our work,” said Patty Weisse, executive director of the nature center.
Using only locally grown and produced foods, Steve Landon, Farm to Table Chef (Skaneateles); Joelle Mollinger, Joelle’s French Bistro (Skaneateles); Ellen Leahy, bc (Syracuse); and Alicyn Hart, Circa (Cazenovia), join this cook-off challenge competition to dazzle with their creative concoctions and culinary skills.
Sous chefs will be drawn from patron ticket holders to assist the contestants in the prep work of chopping, dicing and slicing. A panel of experts will weigh-in on the culinary creations, then, after everyone samples the foods, the audience will pick the winning chef.
“It’s very exciting to use the Iron Chef concept on a local level — and for a great cause,” said Ellen Leahy, competitor and managing partner of bc Restaurant in Syracuse.
Leahy, a Skaneateles resident, said that at bc they regularly use local ingredients and shop at regional farmers markets regularly, such as the one at the Austin Park pavilion in Skaneateles, and they look for local ingredients at places such as Frietags. They also have started to source local ingredients at bc this summer, such as Harvest Home Organics, who is at the Skaneateles farmers market regularly, and School House Farms heirloom tomatoes from Borodino.
Stephen Landon, former head chef at Mirbeau and now chef for his own Farm to Table endeavor, said he has been using local and farm-fresh foods since his early days in Connecticut and is honored to be chosen to participate in such a local, educational event.
“I think this is great for the community. It helps in educating people in several ways. Baltimore Woods is a wonderful place and farmers are roots to the food we should be serving — both are fantastic and need to be made aware of,” Landon said.
Landon said he has a few ingredients and recipes in mind for the competition, but the point is that there will be one secret ingredient, “and if you get too far into you thought process that one ingredient can throw off your whole day. I will defiantly head more toward comfort food and rich flavors. I have a good apple chutney recipe that I hope will blend with the meal.”
To go with the local chefs and local food, there also will be locally-provided beverages. Beer will be provided by Middle Ages Brewery of Syracuse and wine courtesy of Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars of Cayuga.
Also at the event will be tables manned by local food producers and growers to showcase locavore products.
Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows, contributing editor for Edible Finger Lakes magazine and author of a blog advocating locally grown and produced foods, is the guest emcee for the evening.
EnvIRONmental CHEF homegrown is held in the memory of Jean Graham of Skaneateles. Graham touched many lives in the community through her work as a teacher, volunteer, and leader.
Tickets for the even can be purchased at $100 per person for the Patron level, which includes a chance to be a sous-chef and a mystery swag bag, ror $75 per person for general admission. All proceeds go to Baltimore Woods.
The event takes place Sunday, Sept. 18, from 4 to 6:30 p.m. at Baltimore Woods Nature Center, 4007 Bishop Hill Road, Marcellus.
For more information, call Baltimore Woods at 673-1350 or visit baltimorewoods.org for on-line ticket purchase.
Jason Emerson is editor of the Cazenovia Republican and Eagle Bulletin newspapers.