'It's like painting with your food'
Farm School for Chefs brings hospitality workers together around seeds, soil and sustainability — for themselves and their restaurants
Hello, readers! Welcome to the latest edition of The Feminist Kitchen, where I’m sharing a story about Farm School for Chefs, a local food education program that teaches chefs and hospitality workers about growing food for their restaurants.
It’s a community-building and wellness effort from Urban American Farmer founder Trisha Sutton, whom I know through the Comedor Run Club world. (We first met when I wrote a column about her heirloom seed project that she started in 2019.)
One day last fall, I checked out one of her classes at Rain Lily Farm, where the Farm School takes place. Many of the restaurants who participated last fall are back for the spring semester, which starts on March 1. (Feel like getting your hands dirty? Sutton is hosting volunteer work days from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Feb. 27 and 28 to help get the beds ready for the new semester.)
And one programming note, ICYMI last week: Now that posts on The Feminist Kitchen become free after a year, here’s the piece I wrote last year after the freeze that killed hundreds and left thousands without power and water for days:
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One Monday last November, Ash Villanueva, who had just started working at Comedor, spent one of her first days off picking marigolds.
The line cook crouched beside a long garden bed filled with dozens of herbs, leafy greens and edible flowers, that would later be served at the downtown restaurant where she’d recently landed a job.
“It’s been a 180 these past two weeks,” she says. “I’m being taught so much. (Cooking) is more than just using the same three things. At Comedor, it’s like you’re painting a picture with your food.”
Villanueva had learned about farm-to-table cooking at Escoffier School of Culinary Arts before working her first culinary job at a food trailer, but she didn’t get to experience farm-to-table cooking until signing on at Comedor, which is one of about a dozen restaurants that participated in Farm School for Chefs, a new farming program in East Austin that offers hands-on garden education developed specifically for hospitality workers in mind.
The project is the latest effort from Trisha Sutton, a co-founder of last year’s Field Guide Festival who runs a garden installation and education company called Urban American Farmer. She started the farm school last year as an experiment in community building and group learning.