Many school aged children don’t have the access to quality foods and rely on lunch served at school for free. Unfortunately after expenses there is only $1 left for the meal for each student which usually buys processed foods. Enter the Blue Watermelon Project, a program from Slow Food Phoenix inspired by chef and restaurant owner at FnB, Charleen Badman.
Blue Watermelon Project connects chefs, restaurants, farmers and food advocates with individual schools in an effort to help students re-think their relationship with fresh and whole foods making them a more adventurous eater. Along with parents and the community they offer taste education and interactive programming to help K-12 aged students become better eaters.
Blue Watermelon’s annual fundraiser, Feeding the Future helps bring awareness about school meal programs and Blue Watermelon’s mission. The 2022 event is Saturday January 22nd at The Farm at South Mountain from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Feeding the Future connects students and their Chef Mentors from Phoenix and Tucson to help create healthy school meals with several meal being judged to win prizes and scholarships. The meals meet the National School Lunch Programs nutrition, cost and other requirements.
Tickets for the event are $25-$75 and can be purchased at Eventbrite.
This weekend’s launch of JBF Women of AZ shows off the partnership of 15 talented women chefs as Phoenix is one of 10 cities participating in the national alliance “Let’s Talk” from The James Beard Foundation Women’s Leadership Program. “Let’s Talk” is the brainchild of Chicago’s Rohini Dey, Ph.D., owner of Vermilion and trustee of the JBF whose goal is to bring women restaurateurs together for collaboration and support.
This weekend (sold out) and the weekends of January 22nd & 23rd and 29th & 30th you can order a special 3-course meal from 5 groups of chef’s preparing each course of the meal. Each three- course meal feeds two people and is $55 with meals needing to be ordered online by 10 p.m. the Wednesday of each week for pick-up on Friday or Saturday night.
By collaborating the women are learning from each other, sharing ideas and helping to support locally owned businesses during the pandemic.
The 15 Phoenix area women led restaurants participating in the JBF Women of AZ are……
Maya’s Cajun Kitchen
Cotton & Copper
The Farish House
The Joy Bus Diner
Songbird Coffee House
Hana Japanese Eatery
Tracy Dempsey Originals
The Market by Jennifer’s
Nonna Urban Eatery
The Breadfruit & Rum Bar
To see the menus & chefs, place an order and pick-up instructions head to their website.
As we are now well into this Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic its taking its toll on every industry around the world. Here in Arizona festivals and events are being cancelled or postponed, restaurants and other business’s are voluntarily cutting back hours. As I saw this weekend several Phoenix restaurants continued to be busy with people going out to eat & drink. Many are sending out emails and posting on social media how their following deep cleaning and sanitizing procedures and following guidelines from local and state health departments.
FnB and Rancho Pinot Grill made tough decisions to close their dining rooms but stay open to provide meals for take out or delivery. I’m sure others will follow with these and other decisions while looking at creative and necessary ways to continue to serve our community and pay staff and other expenses. So far the State of Arizona hasn’t required businesses to shut down the way other states have enforced curfews and closings.
How you can help during the coronavirus
When a cure is found for Coronavirus and the risk of it spreading slows down hopefully many of our favorite restaurants and hospitality industry rebounds with no permanent closures. Sadly I feel several will close permanently due to the sudden drop in business right during our busy season. Dining out is a great way to help local restaurants whether you cautiously dine-in, have food delivered or taken- out or buying a gift card for a future visit. If you do the latter I hope the restaurant or businesses are still in business when you choose to visit.
Looking on the bright side we as a community learn from experiences like we’re going through. New processes are being learned and implemented but may become a reality for when things return to as they were. Full service restaurants like FnB and Rancho Pinot may continue to do more take-out business than traditional dining. As few businesses may fall others will be created to take their place. Hopefully this will be short lived and we can get back to gathering at festivals & restaurants and sharing meals & good times together but it’s up to us to minimize the damage by supporting local restaurants and business when we can afford to and feel safe doing so. Visit Local First Arizona for a list of locally owned businesses you can support. Be safe!
Arizona Farmer + Chef Connection is now the Arizona Good Food Expo and returns for its 10th year promoting Arizona sourced foods. This years event will be Monday August 26th at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort. The event brings Arizona farmers and food & beverage producers together under one roof to meet face to face with buyers. The event from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. is followed by a reception at the resorts signature restaurant, A Different Pointe of View.
“Changing the name to Arizona Good Food Expo better reflects the mission behind the event, to showcase Arizona’s best local food and build lasting relationships between food producers and wholesale buyers, but is more inclusive of the state’s broad range of food buyers who aren’t necessarily chefs,” says Emily Bell, Good Food Programs Manager at Local First Arizona Foundation.
Speakers at Arizona Good Food Expo
Over 75 vendors will provide samples and information for local restaurants, resorts and retail buyers. James Beard award-winner and “vegetable whisperer” Charleen Badman owner and chef of FnB will deliver the keynote speech. Other speakers include chefs Tamara Stanger of Tempe’s Cotton & Copper, Stephen Jones of the larder + delta and Shanti Ride, owner of Whipstone Farm.
“The Arizona Good Food Expo is the ideal setting to ensure the freshest Arizona-grown foods are being served on your plate – whether you shop at the grocery store, are eating at the school cafeteria, or dining out,” says Kimber Lanning, Founder of Local First Arizona Foundation, “The Expo makes it easier for our great chefs and food buyers to source local ingredients and be leaders in Arizona’s food scene. Sourcing Arizona’s homegrown foods is essential to build a healthier Arizona, and the relationships made at the Expo will leverage our agricultural bounty for the benefit of all.”
Tickets for the event are $25 for all day access and $99 for vendor packages. Vendor packages include 2 all day passes, reserved parking, table space and a listing in post event follow up. The deadline to purchase Vendor Packages is August 22nd. Information and purchasing tickets can be found at their website. The Pointe at Tapatio Cliffs Resort is at 11111 N. 7th St. Phoenix 85020.
You probably tasted dishes Sacha Levine has prepared at restaurants FnB, Rancho Pinot Grille and Ocotillo and never knew it. Sacha is one of the most respected chefs in the Phoenix restaurant community that many have never heard of, until recently.
Levine runs the kitchen at Singh Meadows Cafe in Tempe where her locally sourced dishes available Friday, Saturday & Sunday’s from 8 a.m. – 2 p.m.
“I have been a huge proponent of local, seasonal, and vegetable-driven food for the bulk of my career,” said Levine. “Preservation has always been a staple for me. We keep the larder stocked with pickles, sauces, and ferments that are sold in the market as well as used in the kitchen.”
Dishes from Sacha Levine
Working alongside Levine in the kitchen is Carlos Carbajal and Kevin Dragos helping to prepare breakfast and lunch. The menu offers a variety of delicious meal attractive to vegetarians, vegans and those looking for gluten-free options.
When I was there one Saturday morning recently it was hard for me pass up the Smoked Brisket Breakfast sandwich.
All dishes are under $12 and include Kimchi Fried Rice with pork belly, Indian Breakfast Tacos and Huevos Rancheros. Taste of the Meadows offers ricotta, honeycomb, fresh fruit, dates, pistachios and grilled Noble Bread.
On my next visit I’m going to have to try the Jerk Turkey Tacos.
“Cooking at Singh Meadows is a sort of coming home for me,” added Levine. “Working at the farm as a young cook helped to define me in the kitchen today. I am close to the source of what I get most excited about in the kitchen – beautiful, local produce.”
In addition to the fresh flavor of Levine’s menu, Singh Meadows offers fresh pressed and squeezed juices and a coffee bar. Fresh produce from Singh Farms is available as is locally sourced foods.
Singh Meadows is at 1490 E. Weber Dr. Tempe 85281. http://www.facebook.com/SinghMeadows