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Heritage Food is the Star at the Farm-To-Table Picnic

Heritage Food is the Star at the Farm-To-Table Picnic

| Betsy Armstrong

Native Seeds/SEARCH is excited to be partnering up with Friends of Tucson's Birthplace and some of Tucson’s top innovative chefs to celebrate our heritage food at the Farm to Table picnic event. This one-of-a-kind picnic will be held at the lush Mission Garden on October 18, 2015, from 4 to 7 pm, and it is going to be a wonderful opportunity to see what these creative chefs can do with the food that the Native Americans of the Southwest have traditionally enjoyed for hundreds of years.

NS/S board member and master cook, Carolyn Niethammer, is a long time passionate supporter of heritage food. Her two cookbooks, American Indian Cooking: Recipes from the Southwest and Cooking the Wild Southwest: Delicious Recipes for Desert Plants, talk about the edible wild plants and the agricultural products used by the Native Americans of this region. She is excited to see more people become interested in this type of food. "Back in the early 1970, very few people even recalled that mesquite pods had been the most important food of the early Tohono O’Odham," she wrote, "Today, mesquite appears on menus of the fanciest restaurants and 500 people show up for a mesquite pancake breakfast."

Several well-known Tucson-based chefs are bringing their A-game to the picnic to make your palate dance. Doug Levy, owner and executive chef at Feast, has a knack for adding little tweaks to his dishes that you don't expect and he is using Tohono O’odham ha:l squash in a warm salad of autumn vegetables. Kelzi Baartholmaei is the chef and owner of Mother Hubbard's Cafe and her green corn waffles have been named one of Tucson’s “essential dishes". For the picnic, Kelzi is preparing individual small stacks using ha:l squash, her homemade sauerkraut with nopales and jalapenos, and I’itoi onion tops. Hannah Seyler, head baker of Prep and Pastry, plans on bring her mesquite brownie graced with pecans smoked over smoldering mesquite pods. Kris Vrolyk, executive chef at Proper, regularly serves up dishes made with locally sourced and sustainable ingredients. He likes to challenge himself and educate his clients by sometimes cooking a meal using only foods he’s picked up at a farmer’s market.

“People need to know the difference between what they can find in the supermarket and what’s coming from the ground beneath their feet,” Kris said. For the picnic, Kris will be using one of the original heritage foods of the Americas, corn.

Please join Native Seeds/SEARCH and Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace for a relaxing late afternoon picnic among the fig, citrus, pomegranate and quince orchards at Mission Garden. You can buy your tickets at the Native Seeds/SEARCH retail store at 3061 N. Campbell or online. Tickets are $75 each.

Native Seeds/SEARCH and Mission Garden applaud the generous sponsorship of Desert Diamond Casinos & Entertainment, an enterprise of the Tohono O’odham Nation. And we honor the long line of Tohono O’odham farmers, who have grown many of these heritage foods for hundreds of years.