Chefs Jon Bonnell and Gerard Thompson brace for the feeding frenzy at Chefs for Farmers Dallas event. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Chefs for Farmers showcases the bounty of local farms each year. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Southern Fried Swordfish by Folk Table of Sonoma. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Chef Victor Villarreal of Fort Worth's La Onda literally stirs the pot at Chefs for Famers. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Heim Barbecue presented the perfect salad, with its famous burnt bacon ends perched on top. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Moroccan lamb meatball topped with fresh mint by District. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
La Casita Bakeshop's sweet potato filled puff pastry bliss. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
The scene from a perfect fall day at Chefs for Farmers. (Photo by Courtney Dabney)
Dallas’ annual foodie festival Chefs For Farmers held its main event on Sunday in historic Old City Park. People came hungry and cued up early for admission, while many of North Texas’ top chefs prepared to thrill them. Chefs For Farmers has been exploring the indelible link between the restaurant scene and its relationship to the growers and producers that bring it a bounty of ingredients.
A dramatic seasonal farm stand filled with colorful produce was on display near the entrance to drive that point home.
This year marks the 13th annual Chef For Farmers event in Dallas, and Houston got its second taste of the festival earlier this fall at Autry Park.
Dallas’ Old City Park is a sprawling place filled with historic homes, churches and barns, all transported and reconstructed on-site. It’s all about the preservation of a bygone era. That is the backdrop for one of the best events each fall in Dallas. VIPs got to relax in their own private sanctuary with lounge seating, and general admission attendees played lawn games and relaxed on park benches and many other stations throughout the festival, taking in some ideal fall weather.
Chefs For Farmers’ Best Bites and Sips
The talent came from as far away as Sonoma with Folk Table serving up its Southern fried swordfish and from nearby Fort Worth where chef Jon Bonnell of Bonnell’s Texas offered up brisket tacos and La Onda’s own Victor Villareal (whose restaurant reopened in August) happily stirred the pot with his fire roasted ancho turkey soup.
Travis and Emma Heim of Heim Barbecue shared their famous burnt bacon ends atop a lovely spinach salad. The Heims, of course, started their restaurant empire in Fort Worth, before spreading their barbecue gospel to Dallas. They say their newest restaurant (which was first announced three years ago) is finally nearly ready to open in Burleson. Travis Heim says they are hiring and training now, and Burleson’s first Heim Barbecue should be open by early December.
Rosewood Ranches supplied the protein for several chefs again this year, getting things smoking with a live fire grilling demonstration. Rosewood’s Wagyu beef tenderloin was served with Gruyere cheese grits with a bluish tinge from blue corn. Kessaku utilized their beef too, creating a melt-in-your-mouth sake glazed short rib.
District chef Aaron Staudenmaier partnered with Profound Farms presenting a Moroccan spiced lamb meatball with shakshuka sauce, chermoula, a slice of Manchego cheese and fresh mint ― for another perfect bite.
Sweet treat providers included La Casita Bakeshop’s Marisca Trejo, who partnered with Rae Lili Farm to bake up sweet potato cream cheese puff pastry quesitos, and Julien Eelsen of Whisk Crepes Cafe, who used the ripe strawberries sourced from Misty Moon Farms in crepes with lemon curd and fresh cream.
Wineries, breweries and distilleries played a part too, allowing attendees to sample plenty of drinks. Wines, sakes and ports were available to sip. A full range of spirits were on hand from Codigo tequila to Aviation gin.
Lucky attendees also had the chance to get the first taste of a promising new Nevada-based Frey Ranch bourbon as well. Frey is a new entrant to the exploding bourbon market, but so appropriate to debut at Chefs For Farmers. It is a 100 percent farm to glass product. The farm has been in existence for more than 165 years and Frey sources its own grain on-site at Frey Ranch. The resulting bourbon is quite tasty and already sought-after.
The crowed awarded this year’s Best Bite to RJ Yoakum of Georgie’s and Comeback Creek Farm for their dish of Comeback Creek smoked tomato soup with grilled cheese custard, and to Rosewood Ranches for its Wagyu pastrami custard. They won 100,000 air miles from American Airlines AAdvantage Mastercard for their tasty creation.
North Texas foodies got their fill once again this year at Chefs For Farmers, with the region’s top chefs sharing centerstage with the growers and producers that make them shine. Here’s to next year.