Last night, nearly 350 of Dallas’ biggest foodies helped Chefs for Farmers kick off their 2015 season by drinking a lot of summer punch and gorging on street food. The Mix Off, held in downtown event center, DEC on Dragon, was a competition including five of Dallas’ best sous chefs and eight very creative bartenders. Competition was intense. Finding the best meant lots of seconds.
Chefs for Farmers, launched around six years ago by FT33’s Iris Midler and Matt McCallister, was the result of a dinner conversation. The idea was to enhance relationships between chefs and farmers and increase offerings of local meat and produce on the finest of Dallas restaurant menus. They began organizing community dinners where chefs were paired with a local farm and vied for the diners’ popular vote.
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Now, their annual main event has evolved into an outdoor picnic at Turtle Creek’s Lee Park where this year they are expecting up to 2,500. The picnic will be an all-you-can-eat feast including a biscuit bar and oyster station served with all-you-can-drink (responsibly) Champagne and local beer — that, along with the vittles of all the competing chefs. Proceeds support local farms and Café Momentum, and the winning chefs and bartenders earn prizes as well. For $75, you can be both a glutton and a philanthropist.
One prize the winners of last night’s Mix Off earned was a repeat effort at October’s picnic. Thanks to the People’s Choice vote, the CFF official signature drink this year will be from FT33’s Collin Phillips with his “Solar Eclipse,” a Maker’s Mark concoction including sunchoke and cardamom syrup with lemon, fresh sage, and garnished with a sunchoke chip.
The winner of both Judge’s Choice and People’s Choice for best street food was Brian Bell, sous chef at Blind Butcher, who will be competing with the executive chefs at the picnic for his Mix Off entry of a Hatch chili chicken sausage garnished with veggies to create something he calls a “walking taco.”
Another notable winner was The Standard Pour’s Phillip Smith, winning Judge’s Choice for cocktail with his chamomile citrus punch.