Chef's Panel: A Recap

Our Chef's Panel on Sunday Jan. 24th at the Prairie Den was standing room only! We were floored by community support and thoughtful conversations about the role of chefs in the sustainable food movement. 

It is our responsibility as chefs to utilize local food whenever possible... It helps build community.
— Andrea Baumgartner

The evening began with a panel discussion where chefs Andrea Baumgardner, Brian Diumenti and Emily Swedberg shared personal thoughts and answered challenging questions on food, waste, health, sustainability, community, and changes we can make to help our local farmers, the local economy, and the environment.

Chef Brian from The HoDo shared a great way to save scraps, ugly foods, and leftovers from the trash.

"Most of our vegetable scraps go into different stocks to minimize the amount of food waste." His team also utilizes 'ugly' tomatoes in salsas or makes them into delicious sauces which are vacuum sealed and frozen for year round use.  

Emily Swedberg from Lucid Bakery shared that she tries to utilize local foods whenever possible. This summer many of her vegan baked products featured ingredients sold at the Red River Market (a farmers market in downtown Fargo). 

There were many unique thoughts and ideas regarding sustainable food, but there were three things all our chefs agreed on: 

  • Eat local.
  • Support farmers markets and restaurants committed to buying local. 
  • Cook seasonally.

After the panel we headed over to The HoDo for continued conversation and an heirloom potato taste test. Larry Heitkamp, an organic farmer in Minnesota, grew twelve varieties of heirloom potatoes for a research trial. And part of the research included a taste test! The votes were tallied and the Juliette potatoes were named the favorites.

Something beautiful that seems to frequently happen in Fargo is camaraderie that leads to collaboration. The chefs weren't promised compensation or a good turn out, but they showed up. The Prairie Den wasn't provided rent, but they opened their doors. The HoDo wasn't promised increased sales, but they welcomed us to enjoy delicious local potatoes. 

Thank you to our chefs - Brian, Andrea, and Emily - who spoke so thoughtfully about sustainability in the food system. Thank you to the Prairie Den and Hotel Donaldson for providing inspiring places for our conversations. And thank you to our community who joined us Jan. 24, and continues to engage with us at events and learning around food sustainability. Every small step, whether it be a conversation, question, or personal change, is working to build a better Fargo-Moorhead food system.

Andrea Baumgartner's recipe using all the extra bits and bobs from the kitchen for a most delicious salad dressing or marinade.

Andrea Baumgartner's recipe using all the extra bits and bobs from the kitchen for a most delicious salad dressing or marinade.