Rae Lili Farm grows produce such as tomatoes, carrots, cabbage and herbs for local restaurants.
Rae Lili Farm grows produce such as tomatoes, carrots, cabbage and herbs for local restaurants.
Courtesy of Rae Lilli Farm

How Dallas Restaurants and Festivals Give Family Farms New Purpose

This weekend welcomes the return of Chefs for Farmers, where chefs will celebrate the work of local farmers through dishes enjoyed by diners.

It’s a weekend of good food, whether that’s a seated dinner or a night market-style of dining — another food-centered event that’s popular with people nowadays.

It can also be advantageous for the farmers. That’s how it is for Sofia Herrera of Rae Lili Farm in Cooper.

“We’ve been there several years in a row now, and I think that Chefs for Farmers bridges a gap between farmers and chefs,” she says. “The event gives local farmers the chance to meet chefs that have an interest in the seasonality of produce.”

For Rae Lili Farm, that produce includes tomatoes, carrots, cabbages, sprouts and whatever else local chefs request.

“We’re really grateful to Matt [McCallister], that he broadened our horizons to grow more unique items, to have a one-on-one rapport with the chefs,” Herrera says. “We grow a lot of heirloom varieties, and we enjoy those. The only downside is you don’t get huge quantities … but that’s what we enjoy doing.”

McCallister’s FT33, BrainDead Brewing, Gemma and Mirador all receive Rae Lili’s produce regularly.

“A majority [of chefs] have asked us for herbs. You would think they could find herbs everywhere; there’s just different varieties that they would like,” Herrera says. “Matt had asked us for chamomile. We grew our first batch in spring, and we were super excited about that.”

Herrera started farming with her husband in 2010. They eventually moved to their farm to operate it full time while she goes to school.

“I still consider us novice farmers,” she says. “We enjoy what we do. I attend school full time. I’m getting a degree in agriculture since this was totally new to us.”

Although the couple feel like their farming career is new, they’re still managing to do well, selling their harvest every week. And the annual Chefs for Farmers events just keep the momentum moving.

“We meet a lot of chefs that could potentially make contact with us. So it opens the door, and we really enjoy that we get to meet them,” Herrera says. “We’ve actually have gotten other customers through Chefs for Farmers, so we love the event; we enjoy it. We think it just works for both chefs and farmers.”

Chefs for Famers will begin Thursday, Nov. 2, with Bite Night ($135) at the Dallas Farmers Market. The Know thy Farmer Dinner ($150) is Friday, Nov. 3, at the Adolphus Hotel, and the Street Food Night Market ($75) is Saturday, Nov. 4, at Victory Park. For more information, visit chefsforfarmers.com.

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