The Chefs for Farmers Food and Wine Festival returns to Dallas this November, connecting food purveyors and restaurants while giving attendees a culinary experience. This annual, three-day event began in 2010 as a single farm-to-table dinner. Since then, it has progressively expanded into a multiple-day festival, with various dinners and events.
Chefs for Farmers is different from other food festivals in its focus on purveyors of the ingredients. The festival connects local farms with local restaurants, and together they build a menu based on what is in season at the farm.
“Not a lot of festivals have the chefs paired with the farms,” founder Iris Midler says. “We only work with chefs that support farms.”
They stay true to this philosophy. Midler has turned down chefs and restaurants that don’t already source ingredients from local farms.
Midler tries to connect farmers with appropriate restaurants, in both size and vision; she’s like a matchmaker for chefs and farmers. She recently paired Cartermere Farms from Celina with Sachet and Gemma for this year’s festival.
“I knew it would be great to get them under a tent and do a dish together — to rub elbows and really connect,” Midler says.
And that relationship is the main goal.
“We don’t charge farms to be there,” she says. “We do give the chefs a stipend to work with the farms. And at our festival, more than most events, we have other stipends available for things like dairy and produce.”
Chefs for Farmers does bring in chefs from outside the DFW area, as long as they’re sourcing from farmers in their own areas.
For example, Alex Seidel, a James Beard Award winner from Colorado, will be at the event this year. He owns his own farm, Fruition Farms Creamery, which provides dairy products and produce for his restaurant, Fruition.
There isn’t a singular focus in the cuisine served at Chefs for Farmers.
“In the past we’ve had a lot of beef, but I wanted to change things up and have a range of foods,” Midler says. “We don’t want to compete with other barbecue events. There are enough barbecue events. We want to focus on who’s sourcing from farmers. We make it about all of the foods.”
Events this year include an Uchiba dinner, a southern bourbon supper, a street food night market in Victory Park and the main event on Sunday, Nov. 3 at Dallas Heritage Village in The Cedars.
New aspects this year include a rosé garden, an experience surrounding the history of the margarita, a fried chicken and Champagne campaign VIP lounge.
You can purchase individual event tickets, or they offer a “friends of the festival” package, which will get you into most events happening all weekend long.
Midler hopes someday to expand Chefs for Farmers beyond Dallas.
“I have a strong want to do that. It’s about having the right partners to make that happen,” Midler says. “It can be costly to be put on, though, and we need the people to support us.”
Chefs for Farmers will be Friday-Sunday, Nov. 1-3. Tickets go on sale Aug. 19.
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