As most Seattle foodies know, our chefs and local farmers generally have a symbiotic relationship. Chefs haunt our neighborhood farmers markets in the early hours of the morning to snap up the freshest produce, they search out the most flavorful artisanal cheeses the region has to offer; sometimes chefs even grows their own herbs and veggies on a restaurant rooftop or patio.
So, Seattle is used to a connection between the food and the farm.
But every year, for the last ten years, something extraordinary happens: An Incredible Feast, where Seattle's most talented chefs partner with local farmers to create signature dishes highlighting one special, seasonal ingredient provided by the farmers.
Guests get to mingle with both the chefs and farmers in a beautiful setting, all while sampling their fabulous creations and it all raises money to support the Good Farmer Fund and the Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets.
We don't think it can get much better than the inspired pairing of chef and farmer, especially for such a good cause, and that's why Swansons has hosted the event for the last 4 years.
I sat down with Claire Leamy, Outreach and Development Manager for the Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Markets, to learn about what the organization does and - let's be honest - to see what's on the menu this year.
What I found out made me appreciate the significance of the event even more. And it definitely made my mouth water.
The Neighborhood Farmers Markets is a community-based nonprofit (501c3) organization that supports over 100 local family farms and over 9,000 acres of Washington farmland through their 7 Seattle neighborhood farmers markets: University District, West Seattle, Capitol Hill, Columbia City, Lake City, Phinney and Magnolia.
All proceeds from An Incredible Feast go to the Good Farmer Fund, an emergency relief fund that has granted over $65,000 to farmers affected by extreme weather, fires and other emergencies. This year was particularly devastating due to fires and floods in Eastern Washington. In one case, a goat farmer's barn burned down right before the goats were kidding. The goats and their kids needed immediate help and the Good Farmer Fund provided $5000 to build a temporary shelter to keep them safe and warm.
Chef Tamara Murphy, currently of Terra Plata, is the brainchild behind An Incredible Feast. She's also the ringleader who gathers colleagues and friends together to participate. Many of these chefs have relationships with farmers and most are regular shoppers at one of Seattle's neighborhood markets; this year, one is both chef and farmer - Meredith Molli of La Medusa is also a farmer at Goose and Gander. Logically, she is pairing with her own farm for the event. Watch out for her unique culinary take on the unusual heirloom vegetables that she grows.
A few of the other farm participants include Early Bird Farm, Rockridge Orchards (one of the few Westside orchards that produce apples, Asian pears, ciders and vinegars), Loki Fish Co., Tieton Farm & Creamery and - with cranberries for the first time this year! - Starvation Alley Farms.
As for chefs, prepare to be impressed: chef Dylan Giordan from Bin on the Lake, chefs Nat Stratton-Clarke and Bernadette Bacani from Café Flora, chef Dave Mitchell from Luc, chef Soma from Miyabi 45th and chef Ethan Stowell, a veritable Seattle institution, are among the participants.
There will be many other Seattle talents as well - over two dozen chefs and as many farmers are participating in this special end-of-harvest celebration - so, for a full list of chefs and farms, click here.
The evening will begin at 6pm with games and drinks and a roving dinner will be served starting at 7pm. There will also be a silent auction with fabulous prizes (including a very special one from Swansons...)
I'll be there and I hope to see you, too. It promises to be a fantastic evening and a great way to meet and socialize with chefs, farmers and other foodies and share your passion for food.
An Incredible Feast takes place on October 5th. Buy your tickets here and buy them quickly because An Incredible Feast sells out EVERY year, a little hint to how incredible this feast really is.