Chef Tony’s was the setting for Monday’s Savor Local Flavor – Dinner at Chef Tony’s, a special dinner prepared from local ingredients and served to 30 very lucky guests who gathered to discuss and enjoy the benefits of local cuisine prepared by the talented Chef Tony Marciante.
The dinner was the final event in the "On the Farm, Around the Table" series hosted by Bethesda Green and Full Plate Ventures. The evening, during which Chef Tony’s dinner held center stage, was a fitting end to the series’ focus on the rewards of working with local farmers to increase the availability of locally produced foods for Montgomery County’s residents, restaurants and stores.
The series launched with a breakfast discussion in Bethesda about the successes and challenges of creating a farm to table food supply chain in Montgomery County, followed by a sustainable farm tour and lunch at Rocklands Farm in Poolesville. The dinner was a final chance to get together to "eat local" in Chef Tony’s own unique style. It was a meal to remember.
Chef Tony Produces a Seasonal Dinner and His Vision of Eating Local
Chef Tony first welcomed guests to his restaurant and seated everyone together at a long table. The soft lighting and murals created a friendly, cozy atmosphere. Guests waited with anticipation. As wine was served, Chef Tony talked about his hope that Bethesda restaurants will create lasting relationships with local farmers.
“Only one in two hundred restaurants have the resources for their staff to develop a network with local farmers and send their trucks to farms every day to pick up what the farmers are growing," Chef Tony said. "But if the smaller restaurants in Bethesda work together, we can create our own network with farmers and also have fresh local ingredients to cook with every day. Even a small group of restaurants changing a few sources can have a big impact on local farmers.”
Chef Tony then disappeared into the kitchen to put the finishing touches on his dinner.
Seasonal, Colorful, and Delicious—Local Foods at their Best
Dinner was served family style, with platters of appetizers appearing first on the table. A variety of goat cheese and fresh figs served with warm bread were followed by Carolina Gold tomatoes dressed with basil. Virginia rock fish with a zucchini and tomato sauté next appeared with chicken scaloppini served with pasta, capers and Meyer lemon. Dishes of couscous, beets, corn and squash joined the rockfish and chicken.
Guests passed platters around the table, laughing and sharing. At the very end, long platters of spaghetti squash were served and guests smiled as they tasted a dish so delicious the table fell silent as people scooped seconds into their mouths.
As the waiters cleared empty platters away, guests kept talking about the spaghetti squash entrée. “How did he prepare that?” one guest asked. “Do you think he would share the recipe?” said another.
Cobbler for Dessert and a Discussion of Farm to Table Eating in Montgomery County
As waiters served apple and peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream for dessert, Cheryl Kollin of Full Plate Ventures introduced Carolyn Taylor, executive director of the Montgomery Countryside Alliance.
Taylor said, “I’ll speak quickly because I want to get to my cobbler,” and talked about the Agricultural Reserve and the farms and wildlife that are just a few miles away.
“How do you get to the Reserve? Do you all know River Road? Well, just drive up River Road past all of the mansions, and after the mansions you’ll start to see fields and woods. You’re in the reserve. We have wildlife there—we identified a mountain lion’s tracks in the Reserve this past winter. There are bald eagles, hawks and all kinds of wildlife in the Reserve.”
Taylor spoke about the newly created LandLink program to help farmers find the land they need for farming, and the creation of a Montgomery County Food Council to bring key stakeholders together—consumers, restaurants, farmers—on issues related to food.
Chef Tony Takes a Bow
After Taylor’s remarks, Chef Tony appeared to take a bow. Guests applauded Chef Tony and his special dinner.
We look forward to many more dinners with Chef Tony and other Bethesda chefs who embrace local foods and locally sourced ingredients. The evening was a delicious reminder of how good food tastes when you have the freshest ingredients in the hands of a talented chef, and eat foods that grow together with the season.
Thank you to Chef Tony, thank you to Bethesda Green and Full Plate Ventures, and to everyone who is working to change the way we eat in Montgomery County. We hope this is just a taste of things to come.