Historically, Slow Food Orange County has organized educational events for members and the community; hosted potlucks, mixers, and dinners; and been involved with school and community gardens. For the past year or so, Slow Food Orange County has been interested in finding relevant ways to bring leaders of the Orange County food community together to network and collaborate on projects of mutual interest. These leaders include chefs, farmers, educators, members of our sister organization Slow Money, and advocates for healthy food access.
Recently, Slow Food Orange County hosted a dinner at Bluebird Canyon Farms in Laguna Beach for about 25 food community leaders and their guests. This event was called the Stakeholders’ Dinner, as all our guests have an interest or concern in creating a “good food” community in Orange County consistent with Slow Food’s values of good, clean and fair food for all.
The event was held at Bluebird Canyon Farms, an urban farm in Laguna Beach that offers interns opportunities in various components of farming – crop management, soil and compost management, beekeeping, an aquaponic farm of the future, seed saving, greenhouse work with seedlings, and work with chickens. The event began with a farm tour by Scott Tenney, the farmer and owner. Local chefs Kerry Annick Cacciata from the Downtown Santa Ana Farmers’ Market and Local Tastes Better, Paul Chamberlin from Boldo Bol, Nate Overstreet from Wheat and Sons Butcher, and Taylor Wright from Just Wright Desserts and Avocado Cafe Irvine worked together to provide a fabulous dinner using local, sustainably-produced ingredients. (Boldo Bol and Wheat and Sons are recipients of the Snail of Appreciation. The DTSA Farmers’ Market has been nominated and approved to receive a Snail of Appreciation. Avocado Cafe owner Taylor Wright and her sister Haywood are working with Slow Money contacts on local financing for their restaurant.) All who attended the dinner enjoyed the meal prepared by these talented chefs. We appreciate the time they offered to our Slow Food Chapter to make this event possible.
The evening sparked an important initial conversation among these diverse members of our Orange County food community. Guests discussed common goals and ways to support each other and collaborate in farmer-chef networks, school garden/Slow Food and chef connections, and research opportunities for university students. Guests expressed interest in taking turns hosting similar future gatherings in a potluck format. Slow Food OC is looking forward to continuing to facilitate interaction between the food community members who attended this event as well as reaching out to others. Information in feedback cards completed by guests indicated that all were pleased with the evening and interested in developing the new relationships initiated around the table, and Slow Food OC is interested in facilitating these networks in our good food community. Look for upcoming projects that will be an outgrowth of this network. We hope you will want to get involved!
Slow Food OC, Chair