2014-07-11 Forbes


7/11/2014 @ 8:00AM 1,775 views

Celebrity Chef Filled Charity Summer In New York's Hudson Valley - Vongerichten, Bloomfield, Brock, Pelaccio

“If you ate today, thank a farmer.”

That’s the slogan of the FarmOn! Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit philanthropic organization launched in 2011 which in its own words, “strives to bring community awareness to food sources, reinvigorate a respect for farming to inspire youth and encourage careers in agriculture and help connect rural to urban marketplaces. By supporting succession on the farm and funding educational youth programs and experiences for the next generation of farmers, FarmOn! Foundation is working to preserve family farming in America.” The group also operates a new working farm in Copake, NY.

To help fund the organization she started, executive director Tessa Edick also created the Friends of the Farmer Festival, which has grown over recent years into a series of high profile celebrity chef and entertainment driven charity events. Whether or not you support FarmOn!’s ideals, if you love food, you might be interested in the Festival’s delicious summer lineup.

New York’s Hudson Valley is an ultimate farm-to-table dining destination, producing all sorts of excellent produce, meats and cheeses.

The Hudson Valley, just 1-2 hours north of New York City, has quickly emerged as the Empire State’s version of Vermont, an abundant agricultural enclave whose products now line the menus of top restaurants from coast to coast, including some of the world’s best artisanal cheeses, domestic foie gras, farm raised game, grass finished beef and lamb, heritage breed pigs, first-rate whiskies and even maple syrup, along with a slew of fresh fruits and vegetables. If you like the idea of farm to table dining, the ingredients don’t get much better than here.

The signature annual event for FarmOn! is the Hootenanny! Fundraiser Dinner, now in its fourth year, to be held July 26 at the Copake Country Club, in Copake Lake. The event is hosted by New York City’s ABC Kitchen and Michelin-starred celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who has fine dining eateries from Las Vegas to Shanghai, Paris to the West Indies, and whose namesake Jean-Georges in the Trump International Hotel in Manhattan holds the highest possible Forbes 5-Star rating.

Local artisan cheeses are featured at several Hudson Valley food events this summer.

Hootenanny! is a fun-filled evening with a lakeside truly farm-to-table dinner – every single consumable comes from within 40 miles – with hosts including an array of area farmers. It begins with a Hudson Valley cheese course and happy hour featuring local beer, wine, and spirits. Live music accompanies the multi-course meal, featuring spit-roasted meat raised just five miles away. Whole Foods Market sponsors a golf cart drive-in movie, while silent and live auctions offer unique finds. The evening concludes with a bonfire sundae bar featuring poached local fruits and ice cream from nearby Ronnybrook Farm Dairy. The all-inclusive price is less than dinner at Jean-Georges, $150 per person.

A much less elaborate event aimed more at families is the Hudson Valley Food Lover’s Farm Festival. Held at the charity’s Empire Farm, in Copake, on Saturday September 27, the interactive daytime event will feature a Disney musical artist and is expected to draw more than 5,000 attendees. Besides live music there will be children’s farmer activities, educational games, taste tests, live animals, a localvore shopping village, local libations, and edibles at a farmers market and grill ($15).

The 175-acre Fish & Game Farm provides the Zak Pelaccio restaurant of the same name and hosts one of the region’s biggest food events.

The Hudson Valley’s next big-name event is the Second Annual Northern Chefs Alliance Dinner on August 17, hosted by Chef Zakary Pelaccio and his co-workers at Fish & Game restaurant in Hudson, NY. The outdoor dinner will feature fire pits, smokers, grills and ice cold cocktails on the 175-acre Fish & Game Farm, five minutes from the namesake restaurant. The event will showcase the bounty of the Hudson Valley, all cooked by Pelaccio and guest chefs such as April Bloomfield of Spotted Pig and The Breslin (NYC), Matt Jennings of Townsman (Boston), and Sean Brock of McCrady’s and Husk (Charleston & Nashville), along with five renowned Canadian counterparts, who will mingle with guests throughout the night. This event is organized by Pelaccio and company, but tickest sales ($250) proceed the FarmOn! Foundation. Tickets to all of these events can be ordered through the Friendsofthefarmer.com site.

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