Here in the Northeast spring is late, short, and fast, with the last heavy frost around Memorial Day. So having a 4 course dinner based on locally grown farmed and foraged foods in mid-May makes things very interesting—especially when you are a vegan chef. Without local meat or dairy to fill out the meal some ingenuity and finesse is required. But that is the challenge of the Farmed and Foraged event EnlightenNext is hosting in collaboration with Berkshire Grown, an annual Berkshire community affair with over 20 participating venues. Last year a small team of us scoured the woods and wetlands surrounding the beautiful manor that is home to EnlightenNext and discovered all sorts of goodies—wild ramps, garlic, cattails, and watercress. We also made good use of the first things up in our very own kitchen garden: chives, Egyptian onions, sorrel, lemon balm, violets, rhubarb, and lovage. And, we did our own in-house growing, sprouting French lentils for a new take on fresh and locally grown salad. J
But for me the reason it is so fulfilling to put on an event like this is that I get to showcase the values around food and consciousness that I strive to perfect in my lifelong culinary pursuits. Food is nourishment, for body, mind and soul, not only in the material sense but in the way any good art or music is—it brings us fully into the present while taking us to a place that is transcendent.
I use simple but unusual methods to bring out and enhance the natural vitality and vibrancy of the food. The quality of the food, the aliveness and lightness, the color, form and textures, as well as the intention with which it is made, offers a different relationship to our sustenance and new dimensions of our humanity to contemplate. And when we share new foods together, in the spirit of interest and exploration, the effect is exponential. In the end, taste is just how all these elements add up!
Here are some images from last year’s dinner. And this year will be even better! May 22nd is the date – 6:30-9pm. Spring has sprung more quickly than usual and with the warm wet weather the wild edibles are flourishing and we will have even more variety available from local farmers and our kitchen garden… For reservations call me at 413-822-8390 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.