If you're a Rochester Farmers Market regular who enjoys good food, there's an event this Sunday, Sept. 12, you won't want to miss: a Harvest Dinner fundraiser supporting the market that is being prepared by chefs from three top local restaurants: Forager, Cameo and Bleu Duck. Bitter & Pour mixologists will provide adult libations.
Heading up the event is Mike Schmitt, president of Friends of the Farmers Market, and Abby Shepler, market manager, along with the Rochester Downtown Alliance. It takes place at The Castle (121 N. Broadway) from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Tickets cost $125 and can be purchased from www.eventbrite.com.
Schmitt explained how this event came to be (not unlike presenting on "Shark Tank").
"The Alliance was wanting to add an event to Rochester that would involve the community and its businesses," he said. "Market supporters brainstormed among ourselves and came up with the idea of a dinner prepared by local chefs featuring only Farmers Market ingredients. Along with other hopefuls, we pitched the idea to the Alliance in January 2020. We were really excited when ours was chosen, and so, we went forward with planning."
"Then came COVID, and everything was put on hold," he continued. "We're all very excited that it is going forward now, after the delay. This will be, hopefully, the first annual."
Adding to the festivities will be live music from Jeremy Jewel and the D'Sievers, as well as a silent auction and a centerpiece giveaway. This all takes place under a glittery star-filled "sky" put together by Majestic Tents and Events.
Weeks ago, Schmitt and Shepler put together a list of 75 market ingredients from which chefs could choose. Needless to say, those kitchens have been busy.
The evening will begin with a complimentary cocktail, favorites cleverly renamed (look for Old Fashioneds, gin and tonics, margaritas, and a few more). A four-course dinner follows, with appetizers, salad, an entrée and desserts. As you'd expect, the choices are creative and sound delicious. Each restaurant is offering appetizers, Forager the salads, and Cameo and Bleu Duck the entrées. The Feyen family is in charge of desserts.
To tease your palate and whet your appetite, here are some of the dishes you can expect, keeping in mind that there may be substitutions if something isn't available: Among the appetizers will be street corn ribs, cucumber and tomato tartare, smoked trout and beef empanadas. Entrées include cornmeal-crusted trout served with creamed corn, mashed potatoes, and a cucumber-onion salad. The other entrée is milk-braised pork shoulder with squash, mashed potatoes, and a mustard emulsion.
Guests will be served both entrées, so come with an appetite.
Attendees may have questions about COVID safety protocols. As Schmitt explained to me, those in charge are paying very close attention to the seating, the distances, and table placement.
"We are following all of the guidelines put forward by the CDC and the Minnesota and Olmsted County departments of health," he said.
All proceeds from the event will go to the nonprofit Friends of the Farmers Market and its programs and events. We all count on and value the Rochester Farmers Market for the excellent fresh foods they make available to us, all grown within 50 miles of Rochester. Let's show our appreciation by supporting this event. See you there.
Food writer Holly Ebel knows what’s cookin’. Send comments or story tips to email@example.com.