Sept. 26 marked the third annual Evanston Harvest Celebration benefitting the Friends of Evanston Farmers’ Markets. The event brings together growers from the Evanston Farmers’ Markets and local chefs who use the farm-fresh produce to create delectable dishes to share with attendees. The celebration was held at Now We’re Cookin’, 1601 Payne St., which offers rentable commercial kitchen space in addition to a state-of-the-art demonstration studio and event space.
Among the participating restaurants were Found, Farmhouse, Campagnola, Hummingbird Kitchen, Stained Glass, Chef’s Station, Koi, Bistro Bordeaux, Quince and Hewn Bakery.
“Evanston is a tight community. It’s great to find everyone here for the cause,” said Pascal Berthoumieux, owner of Bistro Bordeaux, 618 Church St. The restaurant prepared a chicken terrine arranged on small plates that attendees could try as they visited each restaurant table. Michael Gottlieb, executive chef at Bistro Bordeaux, talked about his choice of this dish for the celebration, explaining that he had been making head cheese at the restaurant and decided on a similar recipe using chicken and ingredients from Gast Farms, which was paired with the Bistro. “It’s very traditional, yet inventive,” Mr. Berthoumieux said of the recipe.
The event gave attendees the chance to experience local restaurants and foods in a new way. Evanstonian Heather McClelland attested to the quality of the experience, saying, “It’s really excellent to be able to taste everything, especially with a glass of wine.” Summer Chance, a Chicago resident agreed, saying, “The bounty they’ve brought together is really beautiful.”
While the food was a major attraction, guests clearly saw the importance of supporting the Friends of the Evanston Farmers’ Markets. “The work that the program does is important,” said Ms. Chance.
“The Harvest Celebration is the primary fundraiser for the Friends of the Evanston Farmers’ Markets,” said Myra Gorman, manager of the downtown Evanston Farmers’ Market. “They raise funds for their educational programs at the market and also give grant money to help support the LINK program by giving matching money to the LINK customers so that they can have better purchasing power at the market.” LINK is a food assistance program that allows families who could not otherwise afford the Farmers’ Markets to purchase fresh and local foods there using their SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) allowances.
As the evening began to wind down, many guests lingered to take a last look at the culinary treats displayed around them. A number spent a few minutes talking to the chefs, who seemed happy to engage in conversation before packing their things for the night. “The Farmers’ Market is a terrific local establishment,” said Nell Funk, owner of Now We’re Cookin’, about the event’s beneficiary and the organization that made it possible.
“It’s an event that has a really good vibe.”