Farmers & Chefs Team Up for a Good Cause

Krista Connor

Downstate and upstate fundraisers provide savory dishes to benefit the local March of Dimes chapter

What pairs better than local chefs and area farmers? Two annual Delaware events, The Farmer & The Chef South and The Farmer & The Chef, do just that this month to create savory food and drinks for a good cause.

Both events, which bring together area farmers and chefs to make and serve culinary samples, benefit the local chapter of March of Dimes, a global nonprofit that coaches pregnant women on improving prenatal health by preventing birth defects, premature birth and infant mortality.

While all funds go to the March of Dimes, the aim also is to continue fostering sustainable relationships between local farmers and chefs in Delaware, while reinforcing healthy eating. Presented by the March of Dimes and the Delaware Department of Agriculture, the events serve to emphasize the importance of agriculture in the state and remind Delawareans to support local farmers by buying fresh, local produce.

At both events, area farmers provide the foods, and chefs then prepare tasting samples to all attendees. Guests will vote for their favorites and by the end, a winning farmer-chef team will be announced.

In 2014, the events raised $98,000 total. This year, March of Dimes’ Senior Community Director Pamela Armstrong is hoping for $104,000.

Now in its fourth year, The Farmer & the Chef South will be held at Baywood Greens in Long Neck on Thursday, Sept. 3, at 5:30 p.m.

Then, on Thursday, Sept. 17, the eighth annual Farmer & the Chef will take place at the Chase Center on the Wilmington Riverfront.

Tickets are $45 and $55 at the door for both events. Special to the Wilmington event is the $75 Chef’s Pass, which allows entry at 5 p.m., provides a complimentary drink ticket and an exclusive gift. General admission entry will begin at 5:45 p.m.

Armstrong says she is excited about food trucks, an addition to this year’s events. Both Wilmington and South will host the Frozen Farmer truck with Evans Farms, and Wilmington will host the I Don’t Give A Fork truck paired with long-time participants Highland Orchards.

Armstrong also notes the South partnership with Dogfish Head Brewery. Each chef is asked to use a Dogfish beer in preparing his dish.

“There are always amazing, fun and delicious results,” she says.

This year, the Wilmington event features Woodside Farm, Gordon Food Service, Ramsey Farm, and University & Whist Club, among others. The South fundraiser includes Zitvogel Farms, Espuma, Evans Farms and more.

Ed Zitvogel of Zitvogel Farms in Bridgeville, which has been a functioning farm for almost a century, is paired with Chef Jay Caputo of Espuma in Rehoboth for the South event. Their pairing is grass-fed Angus beef.

“It’s a terrific event for a terrific cause,” says Zitvogel. “Pam Armstrong does a superb job at getting good local farmers, chefs, and business people to come together in a community style event.”

Jim Berman of Gordon Foods, a Wilmington food service store, is making braised brisket with beer-braised slaw tacos with Kirby pickles, and corn salsa, with ingredients sourcing from nearby farms in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, and Papen Farms in Dover. Berman has participated in the past, and is proud of the event’s growth and adaptability.

“Every year gets bigger and more energized,” he says. “The attendees anticipate the event and that energy is palpable. This year, there are food trucks representing a very serious movement in northern Delaware food. It’s great to see the event grow around trends, enveloping the local movement, not just the partnership with farms, but with the community’s changing food scene.”

It’s an evening of fun, but Berman offers a reminder for the importance of the cause and the large impact the event has for March of Dimes.

“Ultimately, The Farmer and The Chef is an evening of doing, at least in some fashion, a small part to give pause and support. The goodness spreads and we remember that we do, in fact, need to be kind.”

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