Plow to Plate

by | Oct 4, 2018 | Farms, Food, Latest Stories

Fundraiser Showcases Local Flavors and Chefs While Building an Inclusive Community

“I feel like I’m on an episode of ‘Top Chef.’”

Scanning the impressive gathering of restaurant notables, an attendee of the recent Plow to Plate Harvest Dinner at Mount Nittany Vineyard grinned in anticipation. This was even better than “Top Chef.”

Some of the most notable chefs of our local food scene took a break from their otherwise unyielding schedules to celebrate local food and support Taproot Kitchen, a catering company and nonprofit that fills a niche in our community by giving people with intellectual disabilities culinary training, meaningful employment and a role in the local food community.

This popular culinary event encapsulates the Taproot mission, said Taproot co-founder Sharon Schafer. At Plow to Plate, young adults with intellectual disabilities are just like anyone else in the community who appreciates and supports local food. “All the important stuff the world is about? They want to be a part of it, too.” On this particular night it was about making people happy by serving them rhubarb cream éclairs.

That dessert fit perfectly with a spread that once again reinforced that eaters in this community are downright spoiled when it comes to the diversity, quality and healthy supply of local food. As co-organizer Tony Sapia of Gemelli Bakers flitted from table to table visiting the chefs who have become his friends and encouraging folks to try the pizza from Nola’s Joint Pizza or the kale salads from Tait Farm, he jovially lauded that abundance. “I was at a farmer’s market in Vermont,” he said. “Our farmers markets kick ass.” And when it comes to showcasing these riches, the chefs at Plow to Plate bring their “A-Game,” he said.

Nittany Lion Inn chef Kirsch McMaster ruined his chef whites with beet-cured salmon. (“It looked like I killed someone,” he said.) John Clickner, executive chef of GiGi’s Southern Table, brined pork overnight, then finished it with a killer jalapeño apple glaze. Mark Johnson of MJ Custom Craft Cooking and Big Spring Spirits brought gorgeous nasturtium leaves from his garden for anyone who wanted a gluten-free version of his roast beef crostini topped with cut gardenias and cut local pickled veggies. Executive chef Jeremiah McClenahan of Fasta & Ravioli Co. made mozzarella that morning and Elk Creek Café chef Winston Blick featured several crostini options including Black Valley Farm chicken liver paté and prosciutto with cantaloupe jam and pickled garlic scapes. (Local food doyenne Alice Waters once bought a version of that paté for her Christmas party.)

Chef Duke Gastiger of the much-anticipated RE Farm Café made eggplant caviar on sour cream potato boats. Chef Harrison Schailey ladled out what one attendee said was the best Tuscan soup she had ever tasted. And Quintin and Liz Wicks of Revival Kitchen used produce from Tait Farm, Hostetler’s Naturals, Village Acres and Ardry Farms to make a central PA take on som tum (Thai Green Papaya Salad) that featured coulis from the veggie trimmings—because they “didn’t want to waste anything.”

Go ahead, road trip to New York City or Pittsburgh’s restaurants. But return home with this knowledge: Our chefs know how to cook, thank you very much. And they have just about all they need right here in Centre County.

Plow to Plate sold out and raised more than $2,500 for Taproot Kitchen, which is hoping to start construction on a certified kitchen by January 2019. Another goal is building a team.

If you missed Plow to Plate or still want to help, head to the Taproot website. Manpower is always in demand. A pressing need is making the most of the season’s bounty. Local farmers provide fresh produce for Taproot’s events, and the group is stockpiling.

“We’re looking to fill our stores as much as we can so we can make it through the winter with local. It’s not easy,” Schafer said. “You have to have people to process it. Veggies don’t wait.”

Photos by Chuck Carroll Photography.

Som Tum (Thai Green “Papaya” Salad)

From Revival Kitchen’s Chef Quintin Wicks | Serves 6-8

Provisions Magazine, Plow to Plate

DifficultyBeginner

This Central PA take on a spicy Thai salad from Revival Kitchen replaces papaya with cucumber in order to keep things local. Liz Wicks says she bought what was available at market — this recipe is easily adaptable to what’s in season. Chef Quintin Wicks uses white soy sauce in place of fish sauce to keep the recipe vegan — which is perfect for this potluck-ready dish.

 1 cucumber
 2 carrots
 1 red pepper
 3 New Mexico Suave or shishito peppers (optional)
 Handful of green beans, blanched and frenched
 1.50 cups cherry tomatoes sliced in half (or chopped larger tomatoes)
 1 bunch Thai basil (10-15 leaves)
 1 bunch cilantro (cleaned well, leaves and stems can be used)
 4 large shiso (Japanese mint) leaves
 1 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
 ¼ cup shoyu (soy—use white)
 ¼ cup lime juice
 1 tbsp brown sugar
 1 medium clove garlic, microplaned or finely chopped
 1 tsp grated ginger root
 ¼ cup grape seed or neutral vegetable oil
 pinch of red pepper flakes to taste

1

Julienne the cucumber, carrots and peppers.

2

In a small bowl, combine shoyu, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic, oil and red pepper flakes to make the dressing.

3

Mix all veggies in big bowl, toss with dressing.

4

Tear or chiffonade the basil and shiso; add just before serving and give one final toss. Garnish with peanuts and cilantro.

 

Ingredients

 1 cucumber
 2 carrots
 1 red pepper
 3 New Mexico Suave or shishito peppers (optional)
 Handful of green beans, blanched and frenched
 1.50 cups cherry tomatoes sliced in half (or chopped larger tomatoes)
 1 bunch Thai basil (10-15 leaves)
 1 bunch cilantro (cleaned well, leaves and stems can be used)
 4 large shiso (Japanese mint) leaves
 1 cup roasted peanuts, chopped
 ¼ cup shoyu (soy—use white)
 ¼ cup lime juice
 1 tbsp brown sugar
 1 medium clove garlic, microplaned or finely chopped
 1 tsp grated ginger root
 ¼ cup grape seed or neutral vegetable oil
 pinch of red pepper flakes to taste

Directions

1

Julienne the cucumber, carrots and peppers.

2

In a small bowl, combine shoyu, lime juice, brown sugar, garlic, oil and red pepper flakes to make the dressing.

3

Mix all veggies in big bowl, toss with dressing.

4

Tear or chiffonade the basil and shiso; add just before serving and give one final toss. Garnish with peanuts and cilantro.

Som Tum (Thai Green “Papaya” Salad)

Farm Fête

A pairing of local food and art in partnership with the Bellefonte Art Museum for Centre County and the Farmland Preservation Artists featuring a French-inspired five-course dinner by Chef Stéphane Gawlowicz Join Provisions Magazine for an evening celebrating Central...