Field to Fork Farm Dinner: Nine movements of food
We are honored to introduce writer and blogger Hannah Wilson to our blog Hannah has taken the time to capture our latest farm dinner and current growing season in words. We are so appreciative of her time and talent and she has become a great addition to our farm!
Thank You Hannah! xxoo Field To Fork
Tuck a seed into the earth, settle it in a womb of soil, watch over it, care for it, water it, sing to it. With the proper nurturance, it will grow into something delectable—a sweet tomato, earthy beet, or a juicy peach. What you have nurtured, the plant you’ve watched over, will nurture you in return.
Scott and Jessica Washkowiak, the owners of Field to Fork, believe in nurturing the land. Their passion is evident in their treatment and knowledge of the plethora of plants they grow. When I went to the farm to harvest peaches earlier this summer, music lilted from Scott’s truck.
“When you’re harvesting peaches, you need classical music,” he said. “Harvesting peaches is a real art.” In the Washkowiaks’ hands, the earth is encouraged to make its own raw art—vegetables and fruit whose cells have absorbed the trills and arpeggios of arias.
On Saturday, August 22, the Washkowiaks’ farm became the canvas for a more polished, practiced art. A long table was set in the furrows of a quiet corner of the peach orchard. The fruity floral aroma of peaches drifted on the breeze. Mt. Garfield and the Bookcliffs stretched in the distance. The table was set for thirty guests who would partake in a nine course tasting menu prepared by accomplished local chef, Griffith Chiono.
After studying at the Art Institute of Colorado, Chiono worked in a number of restaurants in Colorado and the Pacific Northwest. Chiono most recently held a brief post as Sous Chef at the High Lonesome Ranch in DeBeque, and he worked as Bin 707 Foodbar’s Chef de Cuisine for about three years.
The farm dinner was Chiono’s debut as Executive Chef. It was also the culmination of weeks of working at the farm. He had a hand in planting and harvesting some of the very produce featured in the dinner. He’s become acquainted with the plants, and with the devotion and care the Washkowiaks pour into them.
“Working with Scott and Jess was incredible. They were really encouraging, and they’re really good at what they do. Their product is great,” Chiono said.
Chiono envisioned the meal and its execution—a process which apparently “just happens” for someone who actually has talent and skill in the kitchen. Beth Branscum, Clint Schaefers, and Craig Dobson, also accomplished chefs and friends of Chiono, rallied to realize the execution of the meal.
The fresh produce on the farm, of course, guided the menu, which was printed on the back of a card of Jessica’s design:
Tomato Field to fork heirloom tomatoes, fresh basil, crispy opal basil, homemade farmer’s cheese, aged balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and maldon salt. Greens Mixed baby head greens, sweet pepper puree, roasted tomato powder, confit garlic, citrus vinaigrette and crispy veggie strings. Beets Confit beets, lemon chevre puree, cured orange peel, micro mustard greens. Carrots Poached heirloom carrots, tallow béarnaise, sunflower shoots, nasturtium flowers, rosemary salt. Eggplant Caramelized eggplant jam, roasted eggplant, homemade ricotta, crispy pearl onion rings, parmesan cream, herb flowers. Lamb Grilled apple and big jim merguez, confit potatoes, smoky artichoke puree, tobacco salt, cilantro curls, coriander seeds. Beef Braised brisket, toasted rosemary sprigs, sautéed sweet corn and pickled garlic, crispy herb, flower petal confetti, carrot demi, coriander flowers. Melon Homemade melon soda, with lemon mint ice cubes and rhubarb curls. Peaches and Cream Vanilla bean crème anglaise, marinated cookie crusted peaches, tart peach puree, plum powder, and cardamom cookie crumbs.
“I wanted to showcase the produce Scott and Jess grow, and show off skill in plating. I didn’t want to over-process the produce,” Chiono said.
The farm’s packing shed housed a makeshift kitchen for the evening. Here, for the first course, tomatoes were deftly sliced, stacked on planks of reclaimed farm wood, and paired with a few choice accoutrements. No further processing was required to create a stunning riff on caprese salad.
Chiono prepares the dinner's first course
The first course of the meal, featuring tomatoes and fresh herbs from the farm.
Even outside the context of their dishes, each element was honed. Raw garlic sings a wild, pungent tune.
“When you cook it confit, which just means “with fat,” it takes that bite out of the garlic,” Chiono said as he placed a clove on a salad of fresh mixed greens. Chiono’s confit garlic was recognizably garlicky, but its ditty was softer, sweeter.
With each course that emerged from the kitchen, the aria was still audible in the produce. It had simply been enhanced by Chiono’s handling. The trills were crisper, the harmonies more textured. As the meal reached a crescendo, growing in complexity and richness, even the sunset intensified. Its red glow, bent by the branches of peach trees, was visible from the table in the orchard.
Guests enjoy the farm dinner with the Washkowiaks' dog, Ella, nearby.
At the meal’s end, a chilled peach, crusted with crunchy cookie crumbs, was placed before each guest. The scent of the sweet breeze that surrounded them all evening had been gingerly scooped into a bowl. It was layered with harmony, a dusting of sugar and cream, and punctuated with percussive cookie crunch. With each bite, the peach’s song, learned from seed, reverberated in the small corner of the orchard.
Photos and Story by Hannah Elizabeth Wilson