Yesterday afternoon, Becky and I were invited to a fabulous event at Beaulieu Gardens in St. Helena. Paula Le Duc catering and Sunset magazine hosted the event for ISES (International Special Events Society). About 200 event planners, caterers and facility coordinators gathered at the beautiful grounds of Beaulieu to celebrate the seasons with an interactive tasting experience called “seed to skin” where four seasonal favorites, corn, grapes tomatoes and peaches were prepared in different ways, savory, sweet and in libations. Each represented by one grower, Stonebarger corn (G&S corn, our neighbor here in Brentwood) Bloomfield Tomatoes, grapes from BV and of course, Frog Hollow Peaches. Paula Le Duc chefs prepared our peaches in several ways and they were all delicious; peach chutney and pork sandwich on a biscuit, grilled peaches with Pistachio butter, bacon-parmesan-chile crumble, panko encrusted chicken with peach BBQ sauce and my favorite, peach leaf crème brulee.
After 2 hours of tasting and talking about our fruit, we gathered for a panel discussion led by Margo True, the food editor of Sunset magazine with Daniel Capra, executive chef of Paula Le Duc fine catering, Mike Munz, beverage director of Paula Le Duc fine catering and Nick Popodapoulous, general manager of Bloomfield Farms and co-founder of Crop Mobster. They discussed what inspires them, the changes in food trends, their predictions for what’s on the horizon and the role of social media in the food world. One of the highlights of the discussion was Nick Popodapoulous’ discourse on food waste in our country. It is believed that anywhere from 40-50% by some estimates, is wasted and/or surplus and does not reach hungry people. He and others created, Crop Mobster a platform where growers can connect with buyers of all kinds to distribute food to those that need it and to help keep farming economically viable. This is of course a subject near and dear to my heart. Hearing him talk about this unique but very much needed idea, has inspired me to really look at how we can do a better job of getting our off-grade fruit which is just as good, if not better than the “number 1” fruit, to those that need it, appreciate it and can best use it. It was hard to get ourselves to leave the farm on a very busy Tuesday in the middle of the busiest part of the season but it was well worth it.
It’s difficult but it’s always good to “retreat” occasionally to get perspective. It was truly inspiring to hear people so passionate about food and what they (and we) do. We left more energized and more excited about our work than ever.