As exhausted as we were (finishing sangrias ‘til 2 a.m. the night before), there was a little brain-magic that happened as we spied on our guests gathering in the backyard before it began. Suddenly and without warning, it all became worth it. A little like birthing a child, I suppose. All that stress, all that work, all that pain, and it was suddenly worth it. (Forgive me birth mamas. Childbirth and event planning are, at best, loosely relatable.) Point is, the hardship fades into the background and you realize that something very special has happened that makes all that work suddenly worth it.
I suspect many events are like that: the planning, the headache, the stress, the heartache, the lists, the minor and major freak-outs, the sleepless nights, the backache, the pleas for it to just—for God’s sake—be over already. And then. The smiles. The laughter. The joy. The relief. (I once read that people somehow stave off death until after major holidays and events. Perhaps we are evolutionarily wired for ensuring that we all come together, even for one last hurrah.)
Last fall, the Northwest Washington Chefs Collaborative gathered around southern delicacies of pork, red beans and rice, grits, and biscuits at Chef Gabriel’s dining room table. A simple monthly meeting of this young group was hijacked by their building excitement as they got a collective bee in their bonnet to host an event to celebrate local farms and local food. The conversation and initial planning was electrifying. From its genesis over grits, this group spent the next nine months planning, procuring, and preparing the Field-to-Flame feast on August 30.
The chefs included our very own Will Annett, owner/chef of Pizza’zza; Mataio Gillis owner/chef of Ciao Thyme; Patrick Durgan, executive chef at Western Washington University; Josh Silverman, former chef/owner of Dashi Noodle Bar and Nimbus; Gabriel Claycamp of Jack Mountain Meats; Arlene Mantha, chef/owner of twofifty flora; and Crave Catering. Artisan beverages were prepared by Sara Sutherland, owner of the Electric Beet Juice Company and Sustainable Connections Food and Farming Program Manager; Onyx Coffee; and Boundary Bay Brewery.
No event goes off without a hitch. There is always something that tries the patience of even the most serene and seasoned event planner. But these guys faced more than their fair share of turmoil. For starters, after all the promotional materials had been posted and printed, the original event site fell through. Fortunately, the beautiful site at Boxx Berry Farm was available on short notice.
These struggles are enough in and of themselves, but add the worst wind-storm in a decade and multiple power outages the day before the event, and you have a prescription for crazy making, for sure.
In simple celebration for the bounty our little corner of the world provides, this event was a tremendous success that goes well beyond the actual dollar amount raised and speaks to the connections made between people, connections between those growing our food, those cooking our food, and those eating our food. So, I pay simple homage to this amazing group of growers, producers, chefs, and the fine folks at Sustainable Connections. Without you, our hearts and bellies wouldn’t be filled with the bounty of this incredible slice of land we call home.
Thank you for everything you do!