Forager’s Harvest Dinners: where everybody knows your (farmer’s) name
Since its opening 2015, Forager Brewery has made a name for itself by working closely local farmers and only using ingredients from those farms. The "Harvest Dinners" at Forager provide customers chance to put a face to those ingredients.
Since opening in 2015, Forager Brewery has made a name for itself by working closely with local farmers.
Naturally, this led to the development of close relationships between Forager employees and area farmers. What began as interactions at local farmers markets have developed into full symbiotic relationships, and nowhere are those relationships more apparent than during the "Harvest Dinners" at the brewery.
The dinners, which began during Forager’s first summer in business and are typically held every other Thursday, feature a full five-to-seven course meal with all the food coming from the evening’s featured farm.
"It’s a way to showcase some of the farmers that we work with," said Forager chef Pete Wilcox. "We work with all of these farmers for our regular menu and showcase that stuff for these smaller dinners. We bring the farmers in and they can talk about what they do."
According to Wilcox, Forager works with farmers months in advance to map out a schedule that best fits their growing schedules. Since the harvest season is around this time of year, the dinner series runs from late July until early October.
With that said, farmers can still bring in food year-round for Forager’s pop-up kitchen. Wilcox says that he, along with chefs Kari Davi and Mike Mathiason, will occasionally do dinners with cheese-makers and animal-raisers during the winter months when there’s less focus on fresh produce.
Additionally, the menu will also include a beer or wine pairing with the dinner. Wilcox said chefs and brewers get together and determine what drinks mix well with what’s being served.
"The farmer can come in and not only have food from their farm, but a sour beer or something that has their fruit in it as well," Wilcox said. "That’s really fun when we can do that."
The Harvest Dinner experience is different every time, which makes it fun for employees and allows customers to put a face to where their food is coming from, as well as try foods from farms they might not otherwise hear about.
The next Harvest Dinner is August 9 and features produce from Serio Farms in Preston. Andrew Serio, who owns the farm and first did a Harvest Dinner back in 2016, says the series is a great way for farmers to get recognition for their efforts.
"(Forger) will go out of their way to try to work with you," Serio said. "They’re very good people to work with and they’re always happy to get what they can get."
What: Harvest Dinner
When: 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 9 (and Aug. 16 and 23)
Where: Forager Brewing Company, 1005 6th St. NW, Rochester
Cost: $32; eventbrite.com