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Posts Tagged ‘Chef’s Garden’

Yubba, Dubba, Veggie U!: Food and Wine Celebration this Saturday

Posted by CMH Gourmand on July 18, 2012

I have written about Chef’s Garden and Veggie U a few times.  Farmer Jones and company grow great things and Veggie U is their outlet to grow young minds with food education.  I wanted attend the Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration for the last several years, but each summer as the date draws near, something thwarts my plans to go – such as being sold out.  This year is the tenth anniversary for the event so the organizers are going all out.  And…. some tickets are still available.  

I was given a ticket to drive up as a guest (Thanks Guys), if anyone would like to hitch a ride with me (and you have bought a ticket) I may be able to give you a ride, let me know.  

For more details on the event, click here  <-there

Anyone driving up – watch out for Crestline, Ohio – it is a speedtrap.  

I will be live tweeting from the event with some play by play and photos.  I will abide by my first rule of social media “don’t drink and tweet”.

I doubt they have available rooms, but if they do for this event or any other Veggie U. trip, I suggest Captain Montague’s Bed and Breakfast in Huron.  I finally retrieved my photos of the place and will be posting about this great Foodcoast base of operations soon.  



Posted in events, Road Trip | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

The Chef’s Garden to the Rescue and The Veggie U. Event

Posted by CMH Gourmand on March 2, 2011

There was an ides of February. It did not see it coming. Up until a viciously rapid downward spiral, I had successfully fought the good fight against winter (sledding, curling, CMH Tobias adventures, donuting, dropping pounds, etc). I decided that I would send myself to New Orleans on the 15th as a Valentine for myself. I was ill within three hours of arrival. The intensity and duration of sickness was the worst I can recall for this century (lose 8 pounds in 48 hours with my NOLA diet plan!). I returned to Columbus on the 18th to a city that was cold and gray and dismal and dark and abysmally bleak. I was in a foul mood to say the least. This was the most wintery week of the season and time of intense internal discontent.

During this period, I had forgotten that I had vegetables coming my way. When I was at Chef’s Garden and Veggie U back in October I found out that they will ship to anyone – even me. I came home from the cubicle farm on the last of the very dark days to find nine pounds of vegetables waiting for me at my door.

The box was full of produce known as the Heirloom Salad Selection: mixed beets, a variety of lettuces, three types of garlic, watermelon radishes, microgreens (aka salad toppers) and mixed carrots (in non gray colors of purple, green, yellow and white). It seemed to be a self-refilling box because as I continued digging into it, I kept finding more pretty produce. My first act was to eat a carrot. I then set about to make a salad using parts from everything in this care package of vegetable goodness. It felt so satisfying to eat something that was fresh and pulled from the ground about 24 hours before I devoured it. I needed food, real food, fresh food that was Ohio born and bred and nourishing for my soul. At a very fundamental level, creating something as simple as a salad was wonderful and was a tangible strike back at the weariness of the week and the month and the season.

There are other wonderful things going on at Veggie U, the Chef’s Garden and The Culinary Vegetable Institute. You can support Veggie U by buying incredible produce from the Chef’s Garden. You can also support Veggie U and the great food education work they do with fourth graders by attending their annual fundraiser dinner. This year the event includes thirty chef stations, artisan food crafters, wine, food royalty demonstrations and drive bys, a silent auction and much more. Here are a few impressions on past years from some folks that know food, eating and fun.

Dineomite at the 2009 event

Mr. Ruhlman’s Report from 2009

Jeni’s Scoop on the event

This year the event is on July 16th. Some tickets are sold at an early bird rate which are a value considering everything this event has to offer. Tickets do sell out so the early bird gets the deal and gets to go. You can get all the details you need from Veggie U.

I gave some of my remaining heirloom produce away to friends. The watermelon radishes were a favorite because of their wonderful color; photos (at least mine) do not do these color bombs justice. I still have pounds of garlic, beets, carrots and a few radishes left. My first thought is soup. If you have other suggestions or recipes to help me finish off my bounty let me know – soon – because I am looking forward to tasting my remaining horde of freshness this weekend.

If you would like to order your own horde of vegetable heaven – click on this link for FarmerJonesFarm & Chef’s Garden

Posted in CLEGourmand | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

CLEGourmand: The Chef’s Garden

Posted by CMH Gourmand on December 21, 2010

There is a world class grow to order farm which is the darling of almost every chef you have heard of and many more you have not. The Chef’s Garden is in Huron Ohio and while many have driven by it on their way to Cedar Point few in Ohio know the international reputation this garden has with the culinary elite of the world. The Chef’s Garden is a Mecca for hot, haute chefs from all corners of the planet.

The genesis of Chef’s Garden is very humble and actually more than a little sad. In 1982, a nineteen-year-old Lee Jones watched the farm his family had owned for generations sold off item by item at a Sherriff’s sale. He described the experience as watching your soul being sliced out one piece at a time. The family started again with six acres and three battered trucks that no one wanted to buy or tow from the Jones fields. What saved the farm and launched this garden of the culinary stars? A zucchini bloom and a cute chef.

The family was selling what they had out of truck beds at various farmers markets. Lee Jones met Iris Bailin when she came looking for zucchini blossoms. Because she was attractive and insistent, Lee Jones paid attention. Over time, the family learned to cater to the whims of many chefs, growing by request and supplying a demand for food grown for flavor instead of yield. It took a long time (the family did not pay the tag fees on their battered trucks for five years). A few chefs became regulars then their peers became intrigued as word and tastes were spread by mouth.

Today Chef’s Garden grows over 600 kinds of vegetables and herbs year round including over 60 varieties of heirloom tomatoes. They changed the rules of traditional farming by finding a niche catering to chef’s needs. The farm balances innovations with some old school farming techniques. The sustainable farm has over year round 130 employees (with benefits, health insurance and paid at a livable wage). Every plant is bar coded and tracked from seed to table catalogued in a computer system so the entire history of each seed and planting is known. This allows customized enhancements to plants by growing the best of the best from the previous year. The farm uses root cellars and cold frames to grow year round. Micro greens are harvested with hand scissors. Crops are rotated and grown naturally without chemicals. Visitors often remark that this is food that tastes like……food, with real true flavors that they distantly remember eating at a grandparents table or maybe the Garden of Eden. It is not uncommon for an order to go from field to plate in twenty-four hours (produce is shipped to 2500 chefs around the world). Some of the Chef’s Garden equipment is from the 1940’s while other tools have been designed by their own workers to enhance their productivity and quality of work life. For example, one platform was designed on site so that harvest can be done laying down so employee farmers do not get back injuries from repetitive bending and kneeling.

The food focused, forward thinking frontman and Chief Farming Officer is Farmer Lee Jones. Within about fifteen seconds of meeting him, I was enchanted by the passion he has for what he does and the food the farm grows. He even gets excited speaking about the plates in the chef’s test kitchen at sibling spinoff Veggie U. Jones practices what he preaches by focusing on flavor, consistency and food safety instead of mega farm volume. The industrially produced foods we eat as well as how our nation farms has affected our waistlines and the bottom line of our economy for a long time. Jones would like to change that one bite at a time. Food should taste good so if you treat every aspect of growing and preparing it with respect and passion then you can farm for flavor and make a profit instead of farming to subsist on unhealthy as well as unsustainable foods and business models. I drank the food first Kool Aid pitch that Farmer Jones was pontificating due to his passion and sincerity. I believed it because I tasted the finished product and experienced flavors I had never tasted before. I was sold. You can check with the farm for a tour or you can pretend you are a Top Chef and order directly from Chef’s Garden. I would do both if given the opportunity.

Chef’s Garden
9009 Huron-Avery Road
Huron, Ohio

Posted in CLEGourmand, Vegetarian Friendly | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »