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Campus Chefs Tour Davis Farmers Market With Area Chefs, Caterers

November 8, 2007

Photo: several almonds

Chefs, line cooks and other food service personnel from Sodexho Dining Services at UC Davis will join their counterparts from the Davis Joint Unified School District and other area food service professionals on Saturday for a Chefs' Walk at the Davis Farmers Market.

Participating chefs will be greeted at 10 a.m. by Randii MacNear, Davis Farmers Market manager; and Ann M. Evans and Georgeanne Brennan of the Yolo County Agricultural Initiative, which promotes the foods, wines and farms of Yolo County.

After coffee and sweet rolls, the chefs will tour the market with Pru Mendez of Tuco's Wine Market and Cafe, and Tony Gruska of Monticello Bistro in Winters, who will talk about how they use the market's products in their restaurants and why they shop the market themselves. There will be tasting opportunities at the many stalls of winter greens, vegetables, and fruits, as well as nuts, dried fruits, honey, meat and fish.

"We're thrilled to bring campus and city school district chefs to the market along with other local chefs," said Gail Feenstra, food systems analyst at the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute (ASI) and the statewide UC Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program (SAREP). "Chefs and food service professionals are key to the integration of locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables into the area institutional food market -- the schools, hospitals and prisons."

Feenstra and Jeri Ohmart, SAREP and UC Davis Children's Garden food systems program representative, are evaluating the success of linking local farmers markets and area food service personnel through a Davis Farmers Market Foundation project funded by the Farmers Market Promotion Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

"The goal of the grant is to improve farmer profitability by creating community partnerships in education," said Feenstra, noting that the grant is also helping the Davis Joint Unified School District implement its Wellness Policy by using market produce for meals, snacks and fundraisers. "We want to take advantage of the growing interest by consumers and students who want to eat locally grown foods, and by chefs who want to put the food on their menus."

"We are so pleased to have our chefs participate in this event," said Linda Adams, registered dietician with University Dining Services, who noted that seven chefs from the Segundo, Castilian and Tercero dining commons will be attending. "It is one of our goals as we move forward, to feature more and more locally grown produce and tell the story behind the food to the students enjoying it. The students have responded very positively to what we have done so far with our Farm to College Nights."

Sponsors of the Chefs' Walk include the Davis Farmers Market Foundation's USDA grant and the Yolo County Agricultural Initiative. Co-sponsors of the event include Jim Mills of Produce Express, Sacramento; David Levin of California Growers Collaborative; Pru Mendez of Tuco's Wine Market and Cafe; and Tony Gruska of Monticello Bistro.

Each tour participant will receive a box of mixed produce from the market, courtesy of the Davis Farmers Market Foundation and its USDA grant. Other professional chefs, caterers or school food service providers are welcome to attend the event by contacting Joey Portello davisfarmersmarket@dcn.org, (530) 756-1695; Ann Evans, annmevans@aol.com, (530) 756-4892; or Georgeanne Brennan, gbrennan@yolo.com, (530) 795-4995.

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