People keep asking me if the farm is over. My answer is NO NO NO NO NO! ….. and then I show them the picture below which was this morning’s delivery. I still have an acre of produce in the ground people! This is the downward slide but definitely not the end!!!
We had our first HH farm to table dinner at Kappa Delta sorority last Wednesday. It accomplished all the goals we anticipated. It was amazing exposure and marketing for the farm, it solidified relationships between the clients and the chef (Andy Mullins) and it showed the range of product that can be offered with Hendrick House food service. On a personal note, I love being able to harvest product that morning and cooking with it in the afternoon. The smells and flavors are completely consuming. There is so much more care that is taken with product when you have a stake in it are the one who picked the variety, planted it, cared for it, fed it, watered it and harvested it. The chefs can say the same thing and take ownership in the fact that they ultimately decide what is grown. If even a portion of that feeling ( the appreciation for food grown less than a mile away with complete control of flavors) can be conveyed to the clients through their chefs then to me this farm project can be deemed successful.
The air of excitement throughout the house was magnetic, from the kitchen to the dining room. I was even able to get members of AKL fraternity to come and help serve, which created double exposure for all of the positive attributes associated with this event, listed above.
The tables were dressed in white linens with crisp white linen napkins. The table decorations were all from the farm, cut flowers donated by the U of I Student Sustainable Farm and blue corn with husks donated from the U of I from my good friend Jeremy Shafer. We poured sparkling grape juice in place of champagne and had carafes of ice water placed at each table.
The first course was a vichyssoise made from the beautiful spring onions from the farm. It was paired with apples given to me by my friend Rick Weinzierl which were turned into apple cream and apple crisps by Andy. We also used fresh horseradish given to me by my friends Bill and Dale who work with the U of I Aboretum.
The second course was a spinach salad made with beautiful big red beets (from the farm) and Prairie Fruits Farm chèvre.
We served pork tenderloin for the entree with HH farm kale and HH green bean braise.
The dessert was apple and white cheddar turnovers and caramel. The apples came from Rick and the cream that went in to the caramel sauce was from Kilgus Farmstead (up near Fairbury, Illinois). I do have to add that it is very important when coming up with a menu to think about the equipment that will be available to you when cooking and executing the dinner. I didn’t realize Andy didn’t have a fryer in his kitchen so it was pretty comical attempting to fry over 100 turnovers in my little fry daddy.
I have to give a special thanks to Andy Mullins for partnering with me for the day and lending me his kitchen helping to market the farm. Thank you also to the girls of Kappa Delta for letting us do this dinner for you and also for taking pictures. Big thanks to the boys at AKL for always supporting me and the farm and showing up to be wonderful, diligent servers. I definitely look forward to doing more of these events in the future!