The 9th Annual Veggie U Food and Wine Celebration commanded a crowd of record breaking numbers on July 16. The annual benefit for the children’s education program had culinary greats on the grounds to mingle with guests, offer up cooking demonstrations, and give a packed-house panel discussion on sustainability.
The VIP pre-party was an exclusive event for guests who wanted some one-on-one time with legends of the food world while sipping champagne. Chef Jonathon Sawyer of the Greenhouse Tavern, Chef Lee Anne Wong (a former Top Chef), and Chef Greg Grossman (a child prodigy chef) took some time to show guests their personal approach to the tomato. Guests received complimentary copies of Chef Govind Armstrong’s “Small Bites, Big Nights” and Jeni Britton Bauer’s “Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home” to have personally autographed by the stars themselves.
The doors to the Grand Tasting Tent, sponsored by Washington Place Bistro & Inn and Steelite, opened to guests who got to sample small plates from the nation’s best chefs. Guests got to sip on fine wines from around the world and bid on silent auction items that ranged from Taylor Swift suite seats to a monthly subscription to the Chef’s Garden Home Delivery of veggies. The live auction’s proceeds will also help to place Veggie U classroom kits in fourth grade and special needs classrooms across the country.
The demo tent, sponsored by Vita-Mix Corporation and Buckeye Cable, was rockin’ with celebrity emcee Billy Harris. The fist main stage event featured the most revered knowledge of media legend and culinary critic, Ruth Reichl, Chipotle founder Steve Ells, proprietor of The Greenhouse Tavern, Chef Jonathon Sawyer and The Chef’s Garden’s own Farmer Lee Jones. The Q&A format allowed for audience members to ask what burning questions they had on the topic of sustainable practices and choices.
Chef Amanda Freitag and Chef Aaron Sanchez, co-stars from Food Network’s “Chopped” series, played off each other very well during a hilariously competitive and informative quick-fire, mystery-ingredient cooking challenge. Two guests from the audience were invited on-stage as their assistants.
The entertainment kept rolling through the 8 p.m. hour as the stage was once again brought to life by the queen of ice cream, Jeni Britton Bauer, founder and creator of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, and Chef Govind Armstrong, famous for his 8 ounce Burger Bars in L.A. and South Beach, and for being one of People Magazine’s “most beautiful people.” This duo reinvented two of America’s favorites, the burger slider and mint ice cream, and demonstrated how making food simply at home is both delicious and a healthier alternative to fast food.
For more information on any of the event’s headliners, participating chefs, sponsors, vendors, or vintners, please visit www.veggieufoodandwine.com.