A Taste of Wilton from Farm to Chef

A Taste of Wilton: From Farm to Chef may only be in its second year, but once again it drew a myriad of local farms, distillers, crafters and restaurants to share their best with over 1000 attendees.  Almost $8000.00 was raised for the benefit of the Wilton Food Pantry this year, beating last year’s total handily.

The new pavilion in Gavin Park was the backdrop for the event this year, which included a competition between local restaurants, and tastings for all the folks who came to support a good cause and enjoy some good food at the same time.

Lead by the Master of Ceremonies Chef Ben Niese, (late of Skidmore, formerly such favorites as Sperry’s and up north at the Friend’s Lake Inn) the judges had entrants in two categories: savory and sweet.

Ashley Dingeman, principal at Saratoga’s excellent food blog, http://www.saratogafoodfanatic.com/, and Bob Rice of the Wilton Rotary joined me as judges for the competition.  And the competition was fierce.

When the smoke cleared, it was Whole Harvest of 5 Caroline St. in downtown Saratoga and the Otrembiak Farm that won the savory competition for their Farm Toast of basil-kale pesto on baguette, (baguette supplied by Saratoga Deli) with local tomato and walnuts. 

Kelsey Whalen, Chef and owner of Whole Harvest said, “I recognized the need for another healthy, local, and organic option here, so we’re open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  We’ve kept the menu under $13.00 and are offering beer and wine with some organic and gluten free options.”  Whole Harvest is also offering to-go and catering.  “We had over 550 people try the Farm Toast, maybe we’ll offer it as an appetizer in the future!”  Let’s hope so,…  A major menu expansion is coming soon, watch this space.

The Savory People’s Choice award went to the Wishing Well/Vincek Farm for their collaboration on their spaghetti squash with vegan sausage and pumpkin puree.

Both the judges’ and People’s Choice awards in the Sweet catagory were swept by Sweet Caroline’s Pies and Jams/Ariel’s Farm for their carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and orange zest.  “I was overwhelmed to win both awards!”  said Carolyn Zinn, founder of Caroline’s Pies whose brick and mortar bakery will be opening in mid October at 39 Northern Pines Rd. in Wilton.  The bakery will feature pies of all kinds, scones, quiches, and treats from cinnamon buns to home style cookies.  Expect more on the opening from this space.

Susan Garrett the chair of the committee leading the event said, “We don’t charge for admission the event because it’s both a community event, and a fund raiser.  People buy tickets to sample the various offerings from the restaurants, and that money goes directly to the food pantry. Next years event is already in the talking stages with the Town of Wilton.!”  (And yes, spoiler alert, that’s Susan Elizabeth Garrett of the popular food blog “Susanspouts” http://www.susanspouts.com/).

The Rotary Club of Wilton was the showcase sponsor for the second time.  Club President Donald Wildermugh said, “We’ve been the primary sponsor of this event for the last two years because our primary focus is on food insecurity in the community.  We do still contribute to other non profits and causes, but we want our identity to be tied to the problem of food insecurity.”

The whole event was kept on track by the tasteful playing and singing of area favorite Jeff Brisbin, who serenaded the crowd from a picturesque corner of the pavilion with stunning originals, and well chosen cover tunes.

The Wilton Food Pantry is accepting donations at http://www.wiltonfoodpantry.org/.

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