Chefs for Farmers is a culinary event that began five years ago with a simple dinner al fresco, and has grown to a three-day festival that supports local farms by raising much-needed money and awareness. This year, there are two all-new events that lead up to the big one: the CFF Culinary Village at Lee Park on Sunday, October 25. The first is a guest chef dinner at CFF co-creator Matt McCallister's FT33 on the 23rd, which is already sold out, and then there's The Butcher Block Party on the 24th, in danger of selling out before you finish reading this sentence.
Iris Midler McCallister answered a few questions about the Butcher Block Party (which will be held at the Eye at the Joule downtown, pictured above) that will get your mouth watering.
Tell me about the way this new event came about. Who came up with the idea??
The idea for the Butcher Block Party was a collaboration. We thought of doing a separate charcuterie event, a fun, edgier evening in downtown Dallas, different from our down-home, no-fuss picnic at Lee Park. Then we agreed to expand the event to showcase all butchered meats. Think “Chefs for Ranchers.” And the idea was born!
What can guests expect at the Butcher Block Party??
It will be a carnivore’s dream. Beef, goat, pig, duck, lamb. Eight local favorite and up-and-coming chefs are being joined by eight national “meat loving” chefs, to create both cutting edge meat dishes and charcuterie boards. John Tesar is literally going over-the-top; he’s clipping candied bacon and cookies to a line above our heads, so guests can pluck and eat as they walk around the Eye of the Joule. The Dallas Observer’s “Best Chef 2015” Misti Norris is cooking up a whole sheep! Plus we’re serving amazing cocktails and pouring world-class wines and local favorite brews. We have a few more surprises up our sleeve.
Thinking big picture, what do you think makes Dallas a true food city, able to realize a number of big food events like CFF??
What we hear over and over is that Dallas is growing into a top-notch culinary spot, thanks to the dedication to farm-to-table. Dallas diners are savvy. There are so many amazing restaurants to choose from, with talented chefs on the scene, some who push boundaries and some who excel at re-imagining the classics. But the key is that their restaurants are opting for fresh, seasonal, local ingredients to create these dishes. And farms are delivering quality ingredients. We love that farms and chefs get to meet and forge lasting connections at events like Chefs for Farmers.
All-you-can-eat-meat cooked by 16 chefs is a lot of meat. Where's all that meat coming from??
So many great Texas ranchers are supplying meat for Chefs for Farmers this year: 44 Farms, South Texas Heritage Pork, Rosewood Ranches, Sterling Lamb, JuHa Ranch. Volpi Foods providing hand-crafted salumi for the giant charcuterie board. And of course, Ben E. Keith Co. has been instrumental in getting fresh produce from the farms to the chefs.
Going from one event to three is a big jump. Is Chefs For Farmers big-time now or what?
We have many national media and out-of-town chefs coming to Dallas this year for Chefs for Farmers, it didn’t make sense to have them fly in for just one day. So we decided to put on a few events to really showcase the great culinary scene of Dallas. Next year we’re doing even more.
Here are a few choice highlights of what the 16 chefs are preparing for the upcoming meatfest:
• Chef Sarah Snow's “The Grape Delicatessen” will feature beef pastrami, German-style bologna, liverwurst, smoked ham, summer sausage and olive loaf served with house mustard, horseradish cream, pickles and Texas toast.
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• Not to be out-meated, even when it comes to sweets, Remedy's chef Danyele McPherson has created a sundae comprised of holiday ham ice cream with clove-caramelized pineapple, brown sugar streusel and a bing cherry.
• Chef Juston Brunson, of Old Major in Denver, will be bringing along Vietnamese beef heart and sirloin tartare on shrimp puffs with crispy shallot, lard-fried peanuts, micro Thai basil, cilantro and pickled Fresno chilis.
...and then there's Tesar's bacon candy clothesline situation. It's all going to be fairly meat-intense.