Heartfelt Slow Food

Heartfelt Slow Food

by Gretchen Schisla

At Feast in the Field, an 8th Year Celebration of the Slow Food Movement, a vibrant group of young chefs continue to collaborate and share “foodie” knowledge as they grow our local St. Louis Slow Food experience. 

Eighteen innovative chefs, over 20 Hickey Culinary Institute volunteer servers and 100 guests participated in a cool summer evening at Claverach Farm and Vineyard in Eureka, MO. The dinner honored the farm for its dedication to feeding Saint Louis sustainably. Passionate chefs came together to experiment with fresh farm ingredients, creating visually stunning dishes in a lush outdoor setting.

Located less than 30 miles from St. Louis, Claverach Farm is a special place. It sits in a field close to the Meramec River, with a canopy of forest to one side. A working farm, refurbished barn with a brick oven and an oversized fire pit create added ambiance. Quietly gaining a reputation for their monthly Sunday Supper community meals, the word has gotten out.

Fig trees, giant broccoli and celery plants were standout veggies in the garden amongst a variety of basil, rosemary and other culinary herbs. It was a treat to explore the early summer bounty while sampling a ginger cocktail and artisan beer.

Cat Neville, editor of Feast, kicked off the celebration by explaining how the Slow Food Movement (SFM) got its start. In 1986, a scientist with the Italian National Institute of Health, Carlos Petrini, founded the movement in Turin, Italy. He had just taken part in a campaign resisting McDonald's opening near the Spanish Steps in Rome. Three years later, the SFM’s forerunner organization, Arcigola, established a manifesto that was signed in Paris by delegates from 15 countries.

At its heart, the SFM seeks to promote local, small businesses and foods through the centuries-old traditions of gastronomy and food production. The movement also encourages the creation of urban gardens. This means an opposition to fast food, industrial food production and globalization. The SFM has expanded globally to include more than 100,000 members and branches in 150 countries. Notable Slow Food USA members include Alice Waters, Eric Schlosser and Michael Pollan.

Back at the community dining table, my favorites from the meal included:

  • Spanish chorizo pizza served up by Gerard Craft, Pastaria;
  • Strawberry carpaccio with shaved asparagus, Marconi cream and Marcona almonds created by Carl Hazel, Scottish Arms and Ed Heath, Cleveland Heath;
  • Beet infused tofu, beet soil and dashi broth inspired by John Perkins, Juniper and Dan Brewer, MoFu, and:
  • Strawberries with pickled rhubarb, Heartland goat cheese and pistachio cake created by Christy Augustin, Pint Size Bakery and Robert Zugmaier, Sidney Street Café.

Best chef quote of the evening: “Heartfelt food can come from all price points!” It was an experience I completely enjoyed and highly recommend. In fact, test the inspired creation of any local chef – grab a friend and venture out to enjoy fresh, local summer fare!