For our final GATHER pop up of the summer, we headed Featherstone Center for the Arts. The glorious campus of old-growth trees sprinkled with fanciful works of art and the magical acoustic guitar of musician David Wolff set the stage for the evenings event. Thank you to our special guests Jennifer Rubell and Sally Taylor for a truly engaging conversation about their art, their famous families and all the triumphs and struggles that choosing a creative path brings. Thank you to Justen Ahren of the Noepe Center for the Literary Arts for his fantastic presentation of food-theme quotes and poems and of course our partner, Chef Peter Lodi of The Blue Crab Kitchen for the outstanding dinner.
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Engaging the senses is the cornerstone of a GATHER experience. Each event is crafted to invite you to see, hear, taste and touch for a 360' view on food and the folks who are behind it's story.
FIRST UP: See, taste, smell with Cottage City Oysters Tour
We had a couple of special guests joining us on the island for the event - Paul Greenberg, best-selling author and oceans's advocate and Jody Burson from Big Green Egg. We thought the best way to insert them right into the conversation would be to insert them right into the action. First stop, Dan and Greg Martino (brothers) from Cottage City Oysters (whose bounty was the one of the highlights of the fantastic GATHER dinner) went deep, picking us up in their great little boat for a super cool 'tour' of their floating farm. On the boat was also (the infamous) and passionate Rick Karney from the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group who went head to head with Paul on facts, figures and fun tidbits on how truly amazing these (yummy) bivalves are. Did you know - oysters have the ability to change their sex? Or that eating four oysters a day gives you a complete daily supply of copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus and zinc? The things that we now know.
I love oysters. It's like kissing the sea on the lips." - Leon-Paul Fargue via Rick Karney
GATHER Part 1: Bites, Wines by Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association, a killer location and more..
gThe evening GATHER started out with making new and seeing old friends, it was like we curated our perfect dinner party - fisherman, educators, billionaires, activists, authors, TV Hosts and our good friends who were looking for a cool night out. While we don't want to pick favorites from Blue Crab Kitchen's menu, the locally sourced conch fritters paired perfectly with the lovely Chardonnay poured by J. Lohr Vineyards & Wines. And we were psyched to have brothers Dan and Greg Martino of Cottage City Oysters on hand, presenting an impressive array of their succulent oysters. Happy and full, we were excited to get the conversation going and headed into one of the bays on the working harbor of the Martha's Vineyard Shipyard.
Gotta love geeking out over the Big Green Egg grills. Peter Lodi our chef was gaga when the one and only Steven Raichlen, author, journalist, cooking teacher, TV host and of course grill master extraordinaire, saddled up with some juicy stories from his own EGG grilling adventures.
GATHER Part 1.5: Conversation with best-selling author and oceans advocate Paul Greenberg
Jane Seagrave, publisher of the Vineyard Gazette hosted a thoughtful conversation with Paul Greenberg about his passion for fish, then brought the conversation local via the voices of Rick Karney from the MV Shellfish Group, Mike Holtham of Menemsha Fish House, and Buddy Vanderhoop, famed local storyteller and charter boatsman. What was cool about this interaction is that the audience and participants really got a 360' story about how the food decisions we make, can and do tip the delicate balance of the oceans and our ponds.
GATHER Part 2: Dinner with Blue Crab Kitchen
The conversation spilled out from one to many as people parted ways from the first portion of the evening to the second. Those that stayed for dinner dined to the soft lapping waves of the lagoon, the rise of the June solstice full moon (we couldn't have planned it better), and the roar of animated chatter and dinner plates.
A table laid for those who love to experience their food - from idea, source to plate.
If you just can't stand it and want more...Mr. Raichlen shot a little video that says it all.
Photo credit: merveonur.wordpress.com
I really struggled with the title. As a marketer by trade, FOOD and WASTE as the name for our dinner event wasn’t exactly going to get the crowds knocking down our door (without some real explanation).
It all began with a National Geographic article. Truthfully, it usually it piles up in our house, but their series on the FUTURE OF FOOD was right up my alley. Exploring how ugly fruits and vegetables could help solve world hunger, it was the fascinating main narrative lead by the seemingly bad boy of curbing food waste Tristram Stuart, that made me pause.
A country like America has twice as much food on its shop shelves and in its restaurants than is actually required to feed the American people.
Tristram Stuart, Founder of Feedback, Photo credit: policyinnovators.com
Radical? I was looking for themes for my new Farm.Field.Sea. summer series GATHER to fill a niche in the island's summer programming. Something so fun and different that food lovers (of all kinds) would not only get intimate access to super interesting speakers discussing foods hottest, bold-faced topics, the evening would feature a hyper-local feast - a unique, creative, and entertaining pop-up dining experience like no other (if I do say so myself).
A Farm. Field. Sea. dinner/ Photo Credit: Gabriella Herman
And Food and Waste is a crazy popular subject right? Did you see what renowned chef Dan Barber did when he turned trash into tasty treasures at his dining pop up wastED or the Food Network's try at tackling the topic in its series “The Big Waste?”
To bring the food waste story closer to home, I started following the successes of grocery store innovator Doug Rauch founder of The Daily Table in Dorchester, MA. I have always been quite perplexed about food expiration dates (have you ever been to a grocery store 2nd world country? Ever noticed the American brands they sell are primarily past their due date?) and how so many on our island (and country I am sure) are priced out of access to wholesome foods. I also learned that New England is leading the way on food recovery implementing food waste bans that prohibit sending food waste to landfills. To tie this story to the island I invited our very own gleaning program Island Grown Gleaning to talk about how they work with local farms to rescue excess local veggies and meat for use in schools, food pantries and more - just by harnessing volunteer sweat equity.
On the island we have at least 20,000 pounds of potential crop waste each year, so the gleaners are working capture this quality produce and redirect it. In 2014, we rescued 24,000 pounds of produce and delivered it free of charge to more than 20 organizations." - Island Grown Gleaning
Photo cred: capeandtheislands.org
The bottom line is we can all agree - it just doesn’t make sense that’s there’s such an abundance of food and yet so many people are hungry. So, what can we do? Maybe the simplest way to start is to eat everything. Let’s set our default mode to eating the food we’ve got instead of quickly trashing it or buying more and lets celebrate how “ugly”, is truly beautiful.
For some great reads check out these articles:
Tristram Stuart, National Geographic
Doug Rauch, NPR
Island Grown School’s Noli Taylor, The Vineyard Gazette
ReFED committed to reducing food waste in the United States
Penned by the staff of Farm. Field. Sea. and inspired by the experiences of working with Martha's Vineyard's chefs, farmers, fisherman, oyster cultivators, artisan producers and food educators.