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Slow Food’s Art of Food 2011

Posted Sep 14 2011 7:37am

Good morning, and happy hump day! I hope this week has been going faster for you than it has for me. After two 4-day work weeks in a row, this 5-day week feels like it’s taking forever.

I wanted to show you a few photos from the Slow Food St. Louis fundraiser last weekend, Art of Food . This is Slow Food’s biggest event of the year and this year was no exception. It took a ton of prep work, lots of phone calls, and a few long meetings to knock this event out of the park but it was well worth it in the end.

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Art of Food was held at Koken Art Factory and managed to bring together 20 local chefs committed to local, sustainable food, more food-related silent auction items than you could possibly bid on (trust me, I tried), and well over 200 people committed to supporting the St. Louis slow food scene.

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I arrived at 4 p.m. to help with setup. Chefs started bustling through the entranceway carrying tubs of local food and compostable plateware.

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One of the most labor-intensive pieces of setup was the silent auction. There were well over 50 food-related items up for grabs, including a few amazing pieces of art, gift bags and baskets filled with local goodies, and plenty of gift cards to all the fabulous local restaurants that support our mission.

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Yours truly even gave away a gift bag! It was “blog-themed” – filled with items found at the farmer’s markets nearby. I used our new Slow Food market bags to tie it all together!

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I’m forgetting the most important part of this even though – the food! Thankfully, much of my duties took place before and towards the end of the event, so I had plenty of time to make the rounds. I tried about 75% of food offered, and it was a good 75%!

Beer offerings included Schlafly and Perennial Artisan Ales Hommel Bier and Southside Blonde, both of which went quickly. The Blonde was my personal favorite! They also sampled an incredibly tasty Abraxas Mexican Chocolate Stout – within on 2 ounce pour of this beast you could taste the complexity of all the flavors involved. Perennial is one of the newest breweries in St. Louis and have been a strong supporter of the slow food scene from the start. Their tasting room just opened, so I encourage you to check them out!

Oh right, the food. Let’s talk about the food!

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I tried a lot of different plates and didn’t capture every single one, but here’s a good sample. Three different items on the plate below, from three different chefs.

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From left, Chef Cassandra Vires from Home Wine Kitchen offered a house-made ricotta, tomato and pea shoot crostini; Chef Cary McDowell from Winslow’s Home offered mini chicken pot pies; and Sanctuaria ’s Chris Lee served a zucchini bread French toast with a delectable maple-orange Chantilly cream

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The above lettuce wrap was provided by Overlook Farm and included a few super spicy chili crema!

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The most filling portion of the night goes to Salume Beddu ’s Berkshire hot dog, above right. Not only was the hot dog itself delicious, but they offered a condiment bar with fennel mustard, spicy ketchup, and Peruvian pickled onions! One of my other favorites of the night is that tiny corn concoction on the front of the plate. It’s tiny because I inhaled it before I could photograph – Farmhaus ’ Kevin Willmann’s chorizo chubs.

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One of the last plates I tried was this smoked trout with blue cheese and vegetable salad from YaYa’s – a unique combination of flavors!

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I think the overall winner of the night was this puppy. Niche created outstanding lemon-maple custard topped with shitake mushrooms and bonito caviar, packed inside an egg shell! I think what struck me the most was the mix between the sweet custard and salty caviar – it was the perfect balance. Don’t you just love the way it looks?

Special thanks to all the other chefs and restaurants offering delicious food, including: Franco , Companion , The Mud House , Kaldi’s, Local Harvest , Kakao Chocolate , Entre , Mad Tomato , Maude’s Market , Sidney Street Cafe , The Crossing , and Harvest

The night wore on with just-right music by One Take Band , and the silent auction impressed the crowd and encouraged plenty of bids. It was a definite success, and it was truly enchanting to have so many people get together in support of such an important cause.

I’ll leave you with some photos from the night. If you weren’t there this year, you do not want to miss next!

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Thanks to all who helped and enjoyed their time at this event!

Join us this Saturday for a picnic at Tower Grove Park for National Day of Action. The only caveat? Your lunch has to be under $5 and include local ingredients! RSVP here.

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