Contributed by Claire Luff. Each producer and organization mentioned is a Slow Food Snail of Approval winner.
Over fifty guests slowly arrived at The Wildflower Cafe in Mason, the site for our 2015 Snail of Approval Awards Dinner on October 21st. We kicked off the night in Wildflower’s cozy upstairs bar area with a gorgeous spread of homemade My Artisano cheeses, pickled vegetables and organic corn chips by Sunflower Sundries, mild and hot tomato salsas from The Organic Farm at Bear Creek, and an array of mouthwatering appetizers and jams provided by Chef Ethan Snider of Fond. With their wine and locally brewed beer, guests migrated to dinner on a back patio strung with white lights, creating an intimate atmosphere. The late October evening proved to have the perfect temperature for an outdoor event.
On the patio, gorgeous radicchio and escarole, provided by the Mancinos of Farm Beach Bethel, served as the base for a delicious grilled salad dressed with a vinaigrette provided by The Organic Farm at Bear Creek. Luke and Angela Ebner of Permaganics brought a delectable Thai Pumpkin Soup made from their OTR garden-grown heirloom pumpkins. Chef Todd Hudson of Wildflower prepared some excellent wild Coho Salmon, and quite a display of vegetable dishes using Turner Farm’s produce. Maverick Chocolate’s chocolates and other goodies paired well with the Deeper Roots Coffee for a sweet treat after dinner.
While the menu, of course, was amazing, the highlight of the evening was hearing the stories of the winners. There are so many reasons to be drawn to Slow Food: from being inspired by food at a young age, to wanting to make a difference in one’s children’s lives, to wanting to leave the earth better for future generations. The uniting factor of all these great organizations and people is that they care so very much where their food comes from and how it is produced.
Megan Gambrill of Turner Farm recognized that the people who dedicate their lives to good, clean, and fair food don’t do so because it is a job, but because they believe that it is through this labor of love that they can truly change the world for the better.
Sarah Mancino of Farm Beach Bethel shared an appropriate quote from Gandhi: “Good travels at a snail’s pace. Those who want to do good are not selfish, they are not in a hurry, they know that to impregnate people with good requires a long time.”
Chef Todd Hudson of The Wildflower Cafe ended the recognition of all the winners with a wonderful speech: he stated that there are many awards available to chefs, but that the Snail of Approval was the only one that really mattered to him because it represented achievement of the most important ideals in food production. In sum, all the producers and chefs felt that the event truly represented why they do what they do: community.
Each of these winners is making a difference in the world, one step at a time, through the humble yet great work that they do in their corner of the world. Together, the difference is palpable, and it showed on October 21st. Give these wonderful people some words of thanks and encouragement when you see them!
Laughter and admiration were as abundant as the harvest that evening. We took our time and savored the amazing creations of our local food chefs, farmers, and artisans in Wildflower’s intimate space. We enjoyed the evening slowly, at a snail’s pace, as it should be.
Thanks to The Wildflower Cafe for hosting us and to all of the Snail of Approval winners for contributing to a wonderful event.