Saturday, November 20, we had the pleasure of participating in a landmark event for our local food scene, the first Winter Park Harvest Festival. It was an entire day and delicious evening of Florida food. The daytime event featured a farmer and vendor market in the West Meadow of Winter Park’s Central Park. Local artisans, entrepreneurs, and non-profits of all kinds came and set up booths, tables and tents and either sold their wares or educated visitors. Edible garden landscapers, cheese makers, farmers, cupcake bakers, and just about every type of anything relating to local, sustainable food were represented.

Various lectures and demonstrations ran simultaneously throughout the day. Participants had the opportunity to get up close and personal with representatives of organizations such as Slow Food Orlando, Farm Aid, Florida Food Policy Council, Florida Organic Growers, and Leu Gardens, among others. Topics ranged from Florida gardening and cooking to food policy.

As a bona fide foodie, my favorite part was the AMAZING (and yes it was necessary to use all caps) farm to table dinner that took place that evening. Seven local chefs, with some serious culinary chops, came together course-by-course to create a truly unforgettable meal. We did have a bit of a stake in the dinner, though. We provided all of the table breads: buckwheat pear bread, ciabatta, and grissini. We also provided bread to most of the chefs for use in their creations.

Shortly after we took our seats all of the seven chefs took turns and got up on the stage to introduce their dishes. Harold Henderson of Cuisiniers started off with his run-down of their appetizers, including a nod to Olde Hearth Bread Company. Next came Tony Adams of Big wheel Provisions with more than a nod, a big time thanks. Then there was Nadia Ruiz of Mi Tomatina, with more sincere thanks and kind words. Derek Perez from Luma and Kevin Fonzo of K did the same.

It was incredible to hear, in front of 200 guests and chefs that our work is truly appreciated. We all know that without each other this town’s food transformation would not be possible, but it’s rare to have one of these warm fuzzy moments, (especially in this industry) where you truly “feel the love”.

Then we ate, fantastically.