Sunday night harkened the first of four highly anticipated “Fork it Over” fundraising dinners to benefit the Westport Farmers’ Market. Market Director, Lori Cochran, added a dash of mystery this year as guests submitted their RSVP’s (quickly I may add as the events sell out in a matter of minutes), without any knowledge of the location or the chefs participating in any of the four culinary evenings.
Alas, diners waited for weeks, running through possible guest chef scenarios in their heads, and waiting for the morning of the event when news would arrive.
The inaugural event was held at The Grange in Fairfield, and the first Chef in the Fork it Over lineup was none other than Matt Storch of Match Restaurant assisted by Jeff Spence of The Chelsea.
On the lawn guests were greeted with the smell of grilled sausages in 3 varieties from Saugatuck Craft Butchery, a peek into Chef Storch’s La Caja China smoke box filled with Norm Bloom’s oysters, clams, and lobsters, and a bar with expertly crafted Cocktails and wine pairings from Saugatuck Grain and Grape. What we had here was an old fashioned end of the summer Clam Bake. The evening was looking good. If you missed it, no worries, we've got lots of photos. VIEW PHOTO GALLERY
In keeping with the mission of the Westport Farmers’ Market, All of the participating vendors were sourced locally, within 20 miles, including produce from Patti Popp of Sport Hill Farm, Beltane Farm Cheese, and Shellfish from Norm Bloom & Son. These vendors were also in attendance to show their support for The Westport Farmers’ Market and Lori Cochran’s vision.
After a few rounds of Croquet on the lawn, some beautifully executed apps from Chef Storch and a sampling of Jeff Marron’s Brooklynite cocktail featuring Diplomatico Rum, fresh lime juice and Red Bee Orange Blossom Honey, the guests moved inside to a single communal table running the length of The Grange. Guests passed around huge platters of roasted clams with pork belly, grilled lobsters, corn, creamy potatoes and pristine salad greens from Sport Hill Farm. The shared dining experience underscored the goal of the Westport Farmers Market. Know your local farmers. Support your neighbors. Support your community.
As Patti Popp stated “ WFM is a community that has been built around like minded people who support each other and support the community. Going to a big box store makes your life easy, but we appreciate it when you come to us instead.”
Norm Bloom, Bill Taibe (who sits on the WFM Board), Chef Storch and Mimi McLaughlin of Saugatuck Grain and Grape all spoke eloquently about the importance of supporting our local farmers and local CT businesses.
A wonderful selection of wine was poured, including a bubbly made with pure Pinot grapes, the Domaine Saint Vincent Rose, a red from Domaine Chignard Fleurie and a lovely Albarino.
When the feasting subsided...and after the peanut butter and jelly panna cotta was rapidly consumed...guests left with a warm feeling in their stomachs and their souls. When it comes right down to it, locally produced food just tastes better. It is better for our health, our environment and our community. We had contributed to the preservation of something enduring, a market that cares about the place we call home.
About The Fork It Over Series to Support The Westport Farmers’ Market
The Fork It Over fundraiser series is crucial to the sustainability of WFM. We work hard to keep the fees low for our farmers but that in turn means we have to raise money to afford our continued existence. We need to raise $40k to keep the market running year round, continue implementing the Gillespie meal program, further our work reward program with the Bridgeport Rescue Mission and install new programs like employing Gillespie residents during the Market to carry crates of food for our chefs that our buying local. Without the funds, we are not able to continue!