Updated for 2018: This year’s Chefs For Farmers series of culinary events is November 2 through 4: Fearing’s Fall Harvest Backyard Fest on Friday, Street Food Night Market on Saturday and the Main Event on Sunday.
No words, and maybe not even pictures, can relay the breathtaking inspiration of this closing event for the Chefs for Farmers three-day extravaganza. If I had to sum up the afternoon in three words: This was church. Big, boisterous church for foodies, slow-foodistas like me. We worshipped at altars that overflowed with local and organic offerings, some simple, some freshly cooked and plated while we stood there.
Bonus Fun Stuff:Smoked Dallas BBQ & Music Festival.
Without hesitation I can tell you this was a spiritual event. There was a part of me that wanted to label it overdone or pretentious, but everyone was happily doling out their life’s work. I gratefully accepted.
The backstory on who is CFF and why they are here is an important one, so you can read more here. It’s a charity, a competition, and a food orgy like no other.
The weekend was a whirlwind for CFF, with this event being moved from Lee Park to Gilley’s at the last minute because of rain, closed streets, and a collapsed parking garage nearby. (What else could possibly go wrong?) Yet they certainly made the last-minute transition look flawless.
Room after room offered up delights. Think tapas on steroids. I rarely drink, so Renee came to be the Official FunCity Stuff Wine Snob. She leans heavily toward super dry red, so if she encountered a sweet, into the spit bucket it went.
Vegans on one hand…
…Meat-lovers on the other.
There were so many delicacies to try. Early on, I walked around with some Wagyu beef over a carrot puree in one hand, my phone in the other trying to get a picture, with a fork hanging out of my mouth. Way to stay klassy, Andi. After about half an hour, I was unashamed. I had plates stacked on one another. I was eating on the right, tweeting on the left. I really wanted you guys to be a part of the fun, part of the experience. It was so exciting, and it didn’t even faze me that I was probably one of the largest people there. (I still don’t know how there are any skinny chefs in the world.) Renee and I would back into each other, point, stare like newbies and snap pictures like tourists (though that is why we were there): “You have to try this. Make sure you take a bite. What is that? I don’t know but let’s get another one.” Repeat.
This is how the afternoon went: food, wine, food, wine, food, until we couldn’t brain anymore.
Ultimately, it was impossible to categorize every dish with its chef, every wine with its label. There were just too many white jackets, so many generous portions, that I now can only give homage to the overall event and show off a few of what was easily 50 tables of gourmet masterpieces to try. Even the ones I didn’t care for (there was an odd spicy meatloaf outside on the “porch” and some kind of crab salad resting uncomfortably on a crunchy rice cake) were still high quality foods, and I give the chef who created them and the farmer who raised the animals a deep bow of thanks. This was a near-spiritual event for an abiding foodie like me, and I won’t even pretend to have a refined palate; I’m somewhere between Twinkies and kale reduction.
Food Montage and Dream Sequence
Slices of tender brisket… Stacked gourmet delicacies: sauce over slaw over grain… The stuffed cabbage leaves at the Fearing’s table: Renee wouldn’t touch them, but I ate mine fast then ogled the table longingly from afar… A stir fry of cumin-spice Sterling Lamb was aromatic and good, but I can’t remember who the chef was… Turned out there were raw oysters, too, but I never made it to wherever they were camped… CBD Provisions had a table, but I kept getting swept in another direction… Renee purred over the Pecan Lodge…We couldn’t stop smiling and everywhere we looked, it was more of the same.
Next time, if you go, WHEN you go, get there before the start time and line up. It’s a much better experience before the waves of people hit, but that’s the way of all sampling events. Get there early.
There was music at every turn, too. Bag pipers strolled in and around. Drummers. And a show on stage by Dean Fearing’s band Lost Coyote. And the roar of 500 happy people was kind of musical too. For someone who is crowd-phobic, I still found there was plenty of space to move around, and lines weren’t excruciating. This was my tribe, and we were all there for the same reason.
In a stroke of pure luck, we got to sit with one of the bagpipers and his wife (hi Raf and Sal!) and we had a blast laughing and chatting over Meat Cones. New BFFs over fine food and beverages, am I right?
We waddled out of the place until we couldn’t take another bite or sip of anything. And even then, as we passed The Biscuit Bar on the way out, we asked for one to go. No dice – they were kicked. It still makes me a little sad to not get that final bite in. Until next year, my tribe awaits.
We were given media passes to attend this incredible event. I expected food, but nothing could have prepared me for the the WONDERLAND of unlimited food samples, cocktails and foodie experiences!