July 2018 Archives

PaperCity at Hope Farms

James Brock
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Heirloom tomatoes fill platters at Chefs in the Field Tomato Tribute at Hope Farms.jpg

It's not every day that one gets the chance to dine with 49 other interesting people at one long table. And it's even rarer to do so for a great cause. That's exactly what happened on June 24, and PaperCity's Catherine Anspon captured all the delicious fun, including the cocktails, the tomatoes, the short ribs, and the charred-tomato panna cotta. It was Chefs in the Field: A Tomato Tribute, and Alyssa Dole, Wayne Nguyen, and Martin Stayer wowed the crowd with their culinary creations. Monopole Wines provided the wonderful pairings, and Hal Brock's 22Fresh supplied the floral artistry and the bespoke cocktail. Read the complete PaperCity coverage here.

Chronicle Loves Farm Supper

James Brock
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Thumbnail image for Heirloom Green Tiger Tomatoes await guests at Chefs in the Field Tomato Tribute at Hope Farms.jpgThe Houston Chronicle's Amber Elliott knows a thing or two about great social events, and she was positively glowing at Chef's in the Field: A Tomato Tribute, which took place on June 24 at Hope Farms. "I seriouly dreamt about that dinner all night," she gushed. From the heirloom tomatoes and bespoke cocktail, to the culinary creations of chefs Alyssa Dole, Wayne Nguyen and Martin Stayer -- including the Umami Bomb and charred-tomato panna cotta -- the evening was a giant success, and raised nearly $10,000 for the foundation's programs. Read Elliott's story here.

Guests at table at Chefs in the Field at Hope Farms Tomato Tribute.jpg

Megan Dickerson At Work

James Brock
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Talk about dedication. Megan Dickerson, Hope Farms' summer intern, wakes up every morning at 5 a.m. -- 4:30 on Saturdays -- to make the one-hour-plus journey from her home in Wallis, Texas, to the farm, where she can be seen digging, watering and harvesting produce alongside Justin Myers, the foundation's chief agricultural officer, and other volunteers. Megan calls herself the "Urban Farm Girl," and is an avid home baker and recent graduate of Houston Community College's Culinary Arts program.

Dickerson grew up in a small, rural community, so farming is second nature to the Texan. Indeed, she lives on a farm in Wallis with her father and son; the family raises beef cattle and horses, and Dickerson wouldn't have it any other way. Her focus is to become a part of an initiative that promotes food education, access to consumable foods and the overall well-being of society to build healthy food systems. Dickerson joined the Hope Farms family in May as a summer intern. When asked what drew her to Hope Farms, she replied: "We are teaching others how to cook and eat the vegetables that so many do not have access to on a consistent basis."

Here is a Q & A with Dickerson, who is also the owner of online baking company Simple & Sweet.

Recipe for Success: How did you hear about Hope Farms?
Dickerson: The Recipe For Success Foundation was mentioned in my Healthy Cuisine class, by Chef Judith Boykin. I visited the website and stumbled upon Hope Farms and reviewed the opportunities to volunteer and give back to the community, and I've been hooked ever since then.

R4S: Why did you volunteer?
Dickerson: Historically, I've been quite involved with volunteering my time. I recently graduated in Culinary Arts, and I wanted to volunteer my time becoming involved in a mission that not only could ignite my passion but afford me the knowledge to understand my focus on healthy cuisine, food systems, and how they translate from farm to fork. When I discovered, after doing research, that I once lived in a food desert, it was imperative to step in and be a part of this initiative.

R4S: What is the most important thing you have learned thus far working at the farm?
Dickerson: That we are all part of community on a much larger scale than imaginable, and if we look past cultural differences, working side by side we can achieve anything. Hope Farms has taught me that with a little ingenuity we can educate a community about the many vegetable varieties available to them and show them how to prepare meals on a budget. In addition, I have learned that the farm brings hope.

Chef Ellen Schwartz: July's Volunteer of the Month

Volunteer Ambassador
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ChefEllenSchwartz.jpgA self-professed cook since the age of nine, Chef Ellen spent her childhood days In Houston surrounded by "foodies" in the grocery stores owned by her father and grandfather. She took daily cooking classes throughout middle school and high school and remained active as a dancer, forming a healthy relationship with food by choosing a variety of nutritious options that would help control her weight and fuel her activity level. She obtained her undergraduate degree from University of Houston, a Master of Science in Counseling from Houston Baptist University, and a Master's Degree, Reading Specialist from University of Houston. As a former counselor and mentor to middle school students struggling with overeating disorders, Ellen regularly attended OA meetings to gain further insight into the root cause of overeating and obesity in children. Her personal and professional experience combined with an increased awareness of the childhood obesity epidemic drew her to the mission of Recipe for Success Foundation.

Now private chef and culinary instructor, Chef Ellen has shared her passion for cooking with a variety of ages and skill levels in the Houston area for over 15 years. She's previously taught in professional kitchens at Central Market and Rice Epicurean and currently spends summers teaching cooking techniques and recipes to children at venues such as Wharton Kids' College, St. Luke's Methodist Church in Houston, and Kid's Connect at West University's After School Program.

Ellen first connected with Recipe for Success as a volunteer chef within the Seed to Plate Nutrition Education™ classroom, a program reminiscent of her personal childhood experience. She enjoyed watching the students' comfort level increase as they utilized the different cooking tools, developed new vocabulary, and learned about healthy eating habits. The organization has been grateful for the support Ellen provides at our fundraising events, particularly our largest annual Delicious Alchemy The Banquet. "I love to see the chefs create their creative dishes and love working behind the scenes" muses Ellen, adding that working with "a worthwhile cause" she supports motivates her return each year.

We look forward to many more years partnering with Ellen and are appreciative of her many years of service to the foundation and its mission. Thank you, Ellen!

Learn more about Ellen or book a cooking class HERE!