On Monday, Sept. 30, the Georgetown Media Group hosted its third annual Chefs Go Fresh tour. Ever growing in popularity since its conception, Chefs Go Fresh has local chefs rev up for a motorcycle tour of local farms, artisans and food purveyors, sponsored by the Maryland Department of Agriculture and the Maryland Department of Natural Resources.
“I love connecting our city’s chefs with local ingredients,” says Georgetown Media Group publisher Sonya Bernhardt. “But at the root of this event is building and reinforcing community relationships, which is one of our most important responsibilities as a local news outlet—and one the aspects of the job I love most.”
To start the day on the right foot, chefs and other members of the Washington restaurant industry met up at Brasserie Beck Restaurant (1101 K St. NW) for breakfast, hosted by chef Robert Weidmaier, co-founder of the original “Chefs on Bikes” event, and owner of Marcel’s, Brasserie Beck, Brabo and Mussel Bar restaurants.
“I founded the original event, Chefs on Bikes, because I wanted to learn more about what was happening in regional farming and food production,” says Weidmaier. “Throughout the years, it’s turned into a mission to raise awareness of these small, local artisanal producers. Us chefs think we know a lot about what’s going on locally, but there are so many great producers in Maryland that don’t go around bragging about what they do. And so this is a chance to let local chefs and restaurants go right to the source, as opposed to the other way around. I’ve met some great farmers, vintners and cheese makers that now help supply my restaurants, that I never would have met without Chefs Go Fresh.”
The early morning smorgasbord included organic lamb hash with poached eggs, cayenne fried chicken with jalapeno-infused maple syrup and Nutella coffee cake, as well as classic favorites like quiche Lorraine, Belgian waffles, steak n’ eggs and a Bloody Mary bar (needless to say).
Along with Weidmair, the chefs and restaurateurs in attendance included KN Vinod and Surfy Rahman of Indique and Indique Heights, Thomas Elder of Härth, James Gee and Lydon Sacoff of Jaleo, Sean Wheaton of José Andrés’ Think Food Group, David Guas of Bayou Bakery, Peter Russo of Chef Geoff, Ris Lacoste of Ris, and Nick Cibel of Nick’s Riverside Grill.
Hopping on their bikes (with the bike-less in tow on a tour bus provided by Quick’s Bus Company), the chefs revved and roared down K Street, beyond the city limits, and down the winding country roads of Prince George’s County. The first stop was Miller Farms in Clinton, Md, run by John Miller, a fifth generation farmer who operates his 267-acre property with his son Brad. Family owned since 1840, Miller Farms grows an array of fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as operating an onsite bakery, nursery and farmer’s market. The perfect spot for a weekend drive (especially if you enjoy berry picking in the spring), Miller Farms is a great place to visit for wholesale produce, firewood, mulch, homemade baked goods and flowers. This time of year, bring your kids out for their corn maze and scenic hayride through pumpkin patches and a community of friendly scarecrows. (Visit www.MillersFarmClinton.com.)
Next on the tour was PA Bowen Farmstead, a farm dedicated to raising grass-fed livestock and producing fine artisan raw cheese. Located in Brandywine, their farm uses old-fashioned grazing techniques combined with modern technologies to help animal species work symbiotically with each other to heal and build their soil and produce high-quality foods that heal and nourish the body, without the use of antibiotics, pesticides or growth-enhancers.
Owners Geoffrey Morell and Sally Fallon Morell purchased the 95-acre farm in 2009, with the goal of creating an integrated farm that not only supplies high-quality, pasture-fed products, but will act as an engine for the economic revitalization of the whole region. On top of having an immaculately clean farm and some of the freshest looking meat and poultry anywhere in the region, their artisan cheeses have been winning awards throughout the country. Their blue cheese with Celtic sea salt is a must-have for any cheese plate in Washington. They even offer private cheese making and poultry processing classes for anyone with a deeper interest in learning more about where their food comes from. (Visit www.PABowenFarmstead.com)
The tour ended at Nick’s Riverside Grill at Georgetown Waterfront Park, where Nick Cibel served up a late lunch of Delmarva classics done right: Maryland blue crabs steamed with old bay, red potatoes and fresh corn, from Miller Farms, piled in mountains on top of butcher paper and eaten in true “family meal” fashion. It was served with pitchers of beer provided by Dixie Liquor, a taste of rum, courtesy of Atlantico rum producers, and a tasty Sauvignon Blanc provided by Oyster Bay. It was a gastronomic adventure that we won’t soon forget—and we look forward to doing it again next year. We extend a warm thank you to all who made this event so special.