About an hour west of Cleveland, in the shadow of Ohio’s vacationland in Huron, is the Chef’s Garden and Culinary Vegetable Institute, a family owned farm and training facility devoted to producing top quality vegetables for use in restaurants.
Not only is the Garden dedicated to using sustainable agricultural farming, the Institute has developed Veggie U, a not-for-profit educational program that teaches fourth graders around the country about the importance of healthy eating habits. The program does not come cheaply, and for the past seven years the institute has hosted its Food and Wine Celebration to help raise awareness and money.
More than 1,100 guests attended this year’s benefit on July 18, which featured more than 50 food and wine stations. Some of the region’s top chefs — including Touch Supper Club’s Jeff Fisher, Luxe’s Marlin Kaplan and Moxie’s Jonathan Bennett — participated.
Each chef created a small dish, making fine use of the Garden’s countless vegetables and seasonings. Micro greens were a popular ingredient, adorning several of the chefs’ creations (including dishes with tuna, scallops and duck). The most inventive dish was Pier W’s Regan Reik’s copper salmon tartare, which featured tiny fennel hyssop ice cream balls that brilliantly mixed the ingredients’ two temperatures.
In addition to the tasting stations, the event also featured a silent and live auction, cooking and wine demonstrations, and a star chef cook-off.
But the entertainment did little to convince the attendees to abandon the tasting tent, which stayed crowded until the end and would have benefited from more walking room. Regardless, the fundraiser was a foodies mid-summer night dream, whisking city dwellers away from the hustle and down to the farm for a night of overeating and mingling. —Aaron Mendelsohn