Farm to Table dinner sets a new bar for local agriculture

The historic Yokayo Ranch hosts a farm to table dinner with a purpose around the heart shaped lawn featuring local farmers and chefs. (Photo courtesy of Yokayo Ranch)

An upcoming Farm to Table dinner combines acclaimed chef John Ash, local restaurants paired with local farms, Mendocino wines, a historic ranch setting, the announcement of a new way to invest, and a mission. These tidbits outline the first-of-its-kind event dedicated to enhancing local agriculture by bringing together agricultural land holders interested in diversifying, community members interested in local investment, bankers, business leaders, ranchers, farmers and chefs to look at ways to pool resources.

The dinner program includes sharing stories of joint business and farm ventures such as one with North Coast Brewing Company and Fortunate Farm in Caspar, the launch of the first community-based Direct Public Offering in California, and a dine-around tasting of inspired plates at the historic Yokayo Ranch, a stunning hillside estate built in the 1920s.

“This dinner seems like the natural next step toward securing a diverse agricultural future in Mendocino County; we’ll be enjoying the best that local farms and chefs have to offer while discussing the most exciting horizons in food and farming,” says Sarah Bodnar, coordinator of the Farm to Table Mendocino dinner and Co-founder of the Good Farm Fund, which will benefit from the proceeds.

Bodnar, who along with her eat-local friend and farmer Gowan Batist, spent an entire year eating only food grown in Mendocino, has a passion for celebrating local cuisine and increasing the viability of local farms. She envisioned this dinner where the Economic Development and Financing Corporation (EDFC) would officially announce its new loan fund, which may be used to finance infrastructure for local agricultural production such as a meat or wool processing facility. John Kuhry, Executive Director of EDFC, will explain the new way locals will be able to fund such projects by investing in California’s first community-based Direct Public Offering DPO.

Chef John Ash, an internationally acclaimed food and wine educator and the former culinary director at Fetzer Vineyards, “is passionate about cooking from the source and loves Mendocino,” says Bridget Harrington, a former coworker at Fetzer and one of the organizers of the event. Harrington is the proprietress of Patrona restaurant in Ukiah, which will be paired with Redwood Valley’s Floodgate Farm for the dinner. Ash will be working with farmer Ben Wolff from Potter Valley.

The menu is currently taking shape as the weather warms and the farmer/chef teams select the farm-fresh items that they will work with. Guests will enjoy several seasonal surprises from an excellent roster of farm-friendly chefs from throughout the county.

Other restaurants, caterers and chefs paired with farmers for the dinner items include: Assaggiare Mendocino with Fortunate Farm, Caspar; Megan Katherine Swenson Catering with Shamrock Artisan Goat Cheese, Willits; Boonville General Store with Anderson Valley Community Farm, Boonville; Black Dog Catering with Black Dog Farm, Potter Valley; Chef Blaire Ladd with Live Power Community Farm, Covelo; Mac Magruder with Magruder Ranch, Potter Valley; Mendo Bistro with Parducci’s estate farm, Ukiah; Mendocino Organics with Heart Arrow Ranch, Redwood Valley; Ellery Clark Catering and Produce, Potter Valley; Pilon Kitchen with Tequio Community Farm, Willits; Saucy with Covelo Organics, Covelo; Tango Foods with Lovin’ Mama Farm, Potter Valley.

Desserts will be prepared by the Hopland Taphouse with Grilli’s Acre Ukiah; Kemmy’s Pies; and more to come.

Libations include donated wine from Mendocino Winegrowers, Inc. and hand-crafted beer from North Coast Brewing Company. In addition Black Oak Coffee will supply the coffee and American Craft Distillers will share after-dinner custom cocktails.

Mark Ruedrich the brewmaster from North Coast Brewing Company will share how his company has formed a unique partnership with Fortunate Farm. For example, the brewery provides the spent hops and other grains to the farm, which in turn grows food for the taproom restaurant.

Scott Cratty, owner of Renaissance Market in Ukiah and the manager of the Ukiah Farmers Market is one of the organizers of the Farm to Table Dinner. What does he hope will come from this event? “It will be a total success if we make a connection that eventually helps one new farmer succeed in Mendocino County or generates financing for one new flourishing local business. But even if someone just comes to eat, it will be a memorable, flavorful evening at which you will be introduced to some of Mendocino County’s most exciting farmers and chefs.”

The Farm to Table Dinner takes place on Wednesday, June 24 beginning at 5:30 p.m. with optional ranch tours. Dinner begins at 6 p.m. with the program immediately following and culminates with dessert and cocktails around the pool. For more information on this limited seating, RSVP-only event email FarmtoTableMendocino[at]gmail[dot]com.

Original article published here.