We were invited to attend the recent Chefs in a Garden event which was hosted by Gateway Greening. It was a fascinating event and we felt very lucky to have been invited to be there. Many people paid quite a bit of money to attend, but the cause and the food was definitely worth it!
Who Was There?
There were many of St. Louis’ finest chefs invited. One of the best things about the whole experience was hanging out with all the chefs before the event started.
We had never met Chris Bolyard of Boylard’s Meat & Provisions before and had a great time talking with him. We especially enjoyed running into Rick Lewis of Southern and Jeff Friesen of Juniper.
Many of our other friends were there, including Tamara Keefe of Clementine’s and Frank Uible of Knife & Flag. Also Josh Charles of Element and John Perkins of Juniper were there, who we have met on multiple occasions in the past.
There also were a large number of different politicos, educators, business people, and philanthropists who had donated money to be there. We were invited to help spread awareness of the event.
What Was the Event About?
Gateway Greening is an organization that is promoting and educating people on urban gardening, sustainable agriculture, create food and opportunities for the unemployed and underprivileged, and in general make St. Louis a brighter and better place for all.
We actually did not know much about them prior to the event, but they have been very busy with many workshops, events, learning sessions, Summer employment programs, and more in St. Louis. They have a giant garden in downtown on Pine street they use as an “outdoor learning laboratory” to provide skills to the unemployed or those reintegrating into society, to teach people about food systems and how to set them up in new locations. and they even have grown 105,000 pounds of produce from this one location since 2006.
Plus they have over 200 community gardens that are part of a network that add value and involvement to neighborhoods all over the city. The whole event was meant to not only raise money for the cause and to recognize those in the St. Louis area that have done great work to bring about the goals of Gateway Greening.
How Was the Food & Booze?
The event, titled “Chefs in the Garden”, was of course filled with lots of amazing food. The produce used was all from local farms and was completely spectacular. Oh yes, and there was indeed booze. Effen Vodka had a signature cocktail for the evening: the “Kickin’ Cucumber Cocktail”, made with Effen Cucumber Vodka of course.
The walls of the main even were lined with all the various chefs serving small tastes of their dishes. All guests were given tickets to use to vote for the meals they liked best, with a guest’s winner being picked out plus a judge’s pick as well.
All of the dishes were wonderful and getting to chat with all the chefs while they’re trying to serve 200+ people was quite a lot of fun.
It really was a testimony to how diverse and talented the St. Louis dining scene has become, not to mention how much quality food can be produced locally in an urban area.
We won’t say which dishes we chose as the best, as we do not like to play favorites, but we saw votes being cast rather evenly throughout the different tables and plenty of people coming back for seconds or thirds.
Also, Clementine’s ice cream was served for dessert.
What Came Next?
News anchor Courtney Bryant from KMOV was the emcee for the evening and did a wonderful job presenting.
George Mahe from St. Louis Magazine served as the main judge of the evening and was tasked with picking out his favorite dish of the evening.
And he chose Grant Higgs of the Missouri Athletic Club for his “Beer Belly” dish, which was pork belly served with a shot of beer.
After the voting had been tallied, the winner of the People’s Choice was John Perkins of Juniper with his simple and flavorful heirloom tomato soup.
Rene Knott, sportscaster at KSDK, ran the auction that followed afterwards, which he did with a lot of energy and humor.
There were a lot of really interesting items being auctioned off, like an event hosting your own urban agriculture class, but probably the most fun thing being auctioned off was a team of male a capella singers.
All in all, it was a spectacular event that showcased a great cause and some great chefs. If you have not heard of Gateway Greening, please check them out at gatewaygreening.org and find out more about the incredible things they are doing for St. Louis and the St. Louis community.