Because Scott and I were at a wedding last weekend where this happened:
I had to miss out on this year’s Market at the Foodbank. Fortunately, Kate Galo (you may remember her from this and also this guest post) was able to attend and blog on my behalf. Enjoy her recap below along with photos from Sarah Casto!
I think it’s fair for me to say that I am still growing into my foodie ways, still getting my knowledge of what’s really innovative ingredient-wise, and which just-opened restaurants are super hip. As a person who ate tortilla chips and some grape tomatoes for dinner, I don’t exactly have a particularly discerning palate, and I am willing to eat just about anything.
So when Amanda let me know that after running a great giveaway for the Market at the Foodbank event (congratulations again, @Dawgpndgirl!), she would be unable to attend, I very graciously said, “If you insist, I will go try inventive morsels of food from prestigious Northeast Ohio restaurants and delicious wines while supporting one of the most well-known local charitable organizations. If I must.”
Our good friend Sarah Casto and I dusted off our camera and notebook respectively, and headed over to South Waterloo Road!
The Market at the Foodbank is the Cleveland Foodbank’s annual Harvest for Hunger fundraiser, showcasing restaurants and catering companies from Rocky River to Solon, assisted by Celebrity Servers, and featuring exciting prizes in their Silent Auction and Raffle.
Doing my preliminary research, I was doubly excited to see that this year’s Market at the Foodbank was taking place at the actual 110,000-square-foot community food distribution center. In previous years, the benefit has been held at the Galleria on East 9th Street in downtown Cleveland.
I really enjoyed walking into the dramatically lit and decorated distribution center. I have been there in the past to assist with sorting or with dropping off food and seeing the transformation of a space that can be usually described as “warehouse” into a lit and musical party space was a treat for attendees. Several commented on being able to see firsthand the results of the hard work and fundraising of the Cleveland Foodbank.
Attendees of the event worked their way through the large distribution center, with chefs and catering companies set up in the open spaces and up and down the aisles, each offering one or two signature items from their restaurants and kitchens, beautifully served. With almost 50 different restaurant and beverage distributors, there were plenty of options for the dessert lovers to vegans.
Baker Leah Smith, cookie purveyor of Bake My Day, said she loved the friendliness and enthusiasm. She shared my surprise at the amount of attendees sampling the Ohio-themed cookies (Browns, OSU and Harvest for Hunger colors graced the sugar cookies) and said how much she appreciated the chance for her start-up bakery to be a part of the event.
Brandon Chrostowski of L’Albatros Brasserie in Cleveland, now in his third year of participating in the event, noted that there was great energy having the benefit in the warehouse, as well as the importance of letting people really see where their support goes. Attendees sampling L’Albatros’ foie gras and charcuterie certainly seemed to enjoy it!
Current food trends call for fresh herbs, vegetables and fruit, and healthier meals. The Cleveland Foodbank is undertaking several programs to achieve this goal, with Produce to People distributing over 5 million pounds of donated fruits and vegetables to Cuyahoga County communities; Mobile Pantry, where Foodbank trucks are sent to a central location and clients can pick up a three-day supply of food; and Community Gardens, with local agencies and Foodbank staff working together to plant and maintain gardens on the Foodbank property.
Development Officer Stephanie Mowls let me know that the Foodbank is aiming to double the amount of produce distributed by 2014, and to begin including cooking demonstrations and recipe cards, so the Foodbank‘s clients will also receive ideas for food preparation.
And how to prepare this produce and fresh food? Ben Bebenroth, chef at Spice of Life catering company and Spice Kitchen & Bar, had a great idea. While I slurped down the potato and wild ramp soup that he and executive chef of Spice of Life Brandon Walukas showcased, Ben discussed their restaurant’s commitment to high standards for where their food is sourced from, in working with local farms, and being able to use what’s in season well.
To that end, he suggested using some of the fresh herbs and vegetables that a client might get from the Foodbank to make a salted herb vinaigrette with vinegar, salt and any herbs you might have on hand in a metal saucepan, using low heat and a little time to make a dressing that can be served over salad, noodles, potatoes, or really any piece of food that’s laying around and could use a little spicy vinaigrette drizzle (a fuller version of the recipe that Ben directed to me is at Edible Cleveland).
And despite Sarah and I not winning anything from the raffle (prizes included Cleveland Indians tickets, an iPod touch, gift baskets and more) or the Silent Auction (among the many offerings were Colorado skiing vacations, tickets to Legally Blonde at the Beck Center, cooking classes at the Western Reserve School of Cooking), we, along with the Market at the Foodbank’s 1000+ attendees, enjoyed the music, the food, the chances to win, and the opportunity to contribute to our fight against hunger.
Opportunities to support the Cleveland Foodbank can be found here: www.clevelandfoodbank.org (select Donate Funds or Volunteer from the options to the left).
About the Guest Contributors:
Kate Galo is a homegrown Clevelander who enjoys restaurant dinners, visits to theaters and museums, and gin cocktails. She used to blog a lot more but then she decided she wanted to spend more time reading other people’s blogs.
Sarah Casto used to live near Columbus, Ohio, but became a Clevelander last year. She enjoys photography, exploring Cleveland’s art and food scenes, and volunteering at the Cleveland Museum of Art in her free time.
Disclosure: Amanda, here – I was invited to attend Market at the Foodbank in exchange for hosting a giveaway and previewing it. Because I was unable to attend, Kate Galo and Sarah Casto attended on my behalf to blog about it.