Tickets are now on sale for the annual Community Cooks Event at Paul Quinn College, an annual garden-setting feast where some of the best chefs in Dallas pitch in to help out with a fantastic cause.
Several years ago the football field at PQC was transformed into a 2-acre organic farm; a project called the We Over Me Farm. Students at the southern Dallas college maintain the huge garden, which provides lessons not only in farming and health, but also social entrepreneurship. During the past three years, the students have harvested more than 10,000 pounds of produce, some of which is served in the school cafeteria, and the rest is sold to the local community and at farmers markets when the season is right.
Last year when I first learned of the Community Cooks dinner, I wanted to see this football field turned garden for myself. Even more so, I wanted meet the students behind it.
I spent an hour or so with the farm manager Andrea Bithell and three PQC students. We walked between rows of a variety of greens as each relayed stories about their work in the garden and how it's changed their view of food. Benito Vidaure, a Dallas native, told me he couldn't eat an entire cheeseburger anymore without getting sick because his body had adjusted to a more vegetarian diet. He also looked forward to the time in the garden, picking weeds, as a daily escape. I was easily sold on the work that Bithell and PQC put into the garden and the great experience it provides for the students.
I wasn't alone, and that's why at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 11, some of the best chefs around Dallas will set up shop along the sidelines of the old football field. Because most of them probably have a garden story somewhere along the way too. (I know they do. I've asked most of them.)
The proceeds from the fundraiser go directly toward educational programs to increase healthy eating and food access across the Highland Hills section of southern Dallas, which is a virtual food desert.
Tickets for the dinner are $75. Chefs include Randall Copeland of AVA, Graham Dodds of Central 214, Jeff Harris of Bolsa, Chad House of Café Momentum, Jason Maddy of Oak, Janice Provost of Parigi, Mark Wootton of Gaden Café, Jim Severson of Sevy's and Nathan Tate of Boulevardier.