It was truly the result of a team effort on Monday, Feb. 11, as culinary arts students at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School joined with Island chefs and Island Grown Initiative (IGI) to host a delicious dinner. The Winter Local Foods Dinner was a fundraiser for the culinary arts department, a promotion for Farm to School, and a chance for the students to work with exceptional local ingredients while alongside professional chefs Dan Sauer of the Outermost Inn and Matt Safranek of the Harbor View.
The chefs and students combined fresh garlic from North Tabor Farm, and vegetables - carrots, greens, parsnips, onions, potatoes and more - from the Allen Farm's root cellar. Berta and Vern Welch, as well as Hollis Smith, donated fresh bay scallops from Aquinnah, and local beef was used in the main course.
"The menu was just something I came up with to use local ingredients," Mr. Sauer said.
For the dinner, 85 percent of the food was grown locally and donated by Island farms - even the beef, Mr. Sauer boasted, although it was transported off-Island because the there are no USDA-approved slaughterhouses here.
The meal began with warm dinner rolls and scallops sautéed with ham. Next was parsnip soup, a warming thick and hearty purée. The main course was shredded beef ravioli, garlic mashed potatoes, and carrots from North Tabor Farm, and local green beans. Dessert was a rich, dark chocolate pudding with mandarin orange (not local), topped with Earl Grey whipped cream
Martha's Vineyard Regional High School and IGI's collaboration was a success: 67 dinners were served and over $1,500 was raised for the school's culinary arts program. The money raised will help students continue to use locally grown foods in their classes and for events. The joint effort from the MVRHS and IGI has inspired both groups to host more local food events together.
"It seemed like we could each help each other out," said Jeff Rothwell, director of technical and vocational education at the high school. "It's a good way for them to bring exposure to what they're doing. These are the kids that are going to be working in the field, the culinary field, so it's good to get them on board."
The dinner was held in the culinary arts dining room, a space created and embellished by different student groups. Student art - from photographs to sculpture - adorns the walls, which were painted by the building trades class, and fish swim in the horticulture class's hydroponics fish tank.
Culinary arts instructor Jack O'Malley proudly thanked Mr. Rothwell for his work to improve the dining room.
"He was instrumental in getting building trades to paint. Horticulture provided plants and aquaculture," said Mr. O'Malley, who added that the horticulture class also provided fresh herbs.
Noli Hoye, who oversaw much of the event, was thrilled with the turnout and enthusiasm generated.
"It was our first public Farm to School event and it couldn't have started off better," she said. "So many people wanted tickets, and it was really fun for Dan to get to talk to the students about using local foods, and fun for Jack for his students to work with a different chef."
Ms. Hoye is working with IGI through the Martha's Vineyard Vision Fellowship, specifically for the Farm to School program. Though she is in her second year of a two-year fellowship position, she has found her niche. "I'm definitely in it to win it," she said. "I think Farm to School is so exciting."
And with the recent national beef recall, she is even more enthused to get the program up and running.
"Almost 40 million pounds of beef were given to the school lunch program," she says. "It is such an important time to focus on getting as much food into the schools from farmers we know."
For more information on IGI or the Farm to School program, visit islandgrown.org.