photo Lili Calfee-Miller    
September, October and November 2003: 1st series of Farmer Chef Classes held at WCTC for ACF Chefs Four classes presented in demonstration format by prominent guest chefs and some of southern Wisconsin’s finest family farmers. From heirloom tomatoes in the late summer to heritage turkeys in the fall, this series provided an opportunity to increase knowledge of working with local, seasonal ingredients.

February 2004: 1st Farmer Chef meeting held at Dancing Ganesha Restaurant
In Milwaukee the first annual Farmer-Chef Connection meeting occurred on Sunday, February 22nd 2004 at Dancing Ganesha Restaurant and was designed by our regional Slow Food convivium to foster collaboration between local farmers, chefs, and retailers committed to expanding and strengthening local, seasonal, and sustainable food networks. Initially we were hoping for 20 people. As word got out we ended up with 28 growers, 16 chefs and 19 other interested parties including DATCP – Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection, the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, UW Extension, Town and Country Resource Conservation and Development and the Milwaukee Public Market.

July 2004: Food buyer survey
UW Extension conducted a survey of food buyers in southeastern Wisconsin – grocery stores, restaurants, nursing homes, public/parochial schools and private clubs. Over 60 per cent of the executive chefs from country and city clubs returned their sheets with an active interest in buying more locally grown food.

audience 3
photo Lili Calfee-Miller    
March 2005: Farmer Chef Connection meeting and Farmer Showcase held at WCTC Education Center with 107 attendees: 44 farmers, 32 food buyers, 13 culinary students, 3 culinary instructors, 15 others (reporter, extension, local food organizers and university). Farmer chef panel discussion of opportunities and challenges of local food followed by opportunity for food producers and food buyers to interact.

September 2005: 1st Farmer Chef Guide. This local food directory evolved from our Farmer Chef panel discussion and farm showcase held at Waukesha County Technical College (WCTC) in March and was based on a design layout used by Philadelphia’s White Dog Café Foundation. With several additions, the farms listed were ones that attended the aforementioned winter meeting.

Fall 2005: 2nd set of Farmer Chef Classes held at WCTC for ACF Chefs and local food enthusiasts. These demonstration classes were conducted by two prominent guest chefs, a local hobby orchardist and one of Wisconsin’s finest farmstead cheesemakers.

March 2006: Grant application for Farmer Chef Connection project submitted by Rose Skora of UWEX Kenosha/Racine to Risk Management Agency of the USDA

April 2006: Grant funded by RMA

April 2006: 2nd Farmer Chef Guide assembled, printed and distributed to chefs and other food buyers in 10 counties.

August 2006: Sourced locally grown food for three days of menus at National SARE Conference; used local chefs, bakers and food processors to prepare various menu items.

August 2006: 3rd Farmer Chef Guide, revised fall version of April 2006 edition

January 2007: Start of Risk Management Grant

January 2007: Farmer Chef Connection Winter Showcase held at Oconomowoc Lake Club; 14 farms participated along with 60 attendees from American Culinary Federation Chefs of Milwaukee

February 2007: Updated and expanded databases of chefs and farmers in Sheboygan, Ozaukee, Washington, Dodge, Jefferson, Waukesha, Milwaukee, Kenosha, Racine and Walworth counties.

March 2007: “Putting Your Farm on the Menu”
An educational event for farmers held at Michael Fields Agricultural Institute with 60 attendees: 2 chef panelists, 50 farmers, and 8 others (reporter, extension, Hmong interpreter, REAP Food Group, DATCP). Panel discussion with farmers and chefs who have experience working together followed by a discussion of food safety issues involved with selling to restaurants. Two afternoon breakout sessions – one on post-harvest handling and the other focused on meat sales. All the handout material from this event has been incorporated into this website’s Farmer submenus.

June 2007:
Back to the Land tour of a pasture-based farm
Chefs had a unique opportunity to visit a farm that raises grass-fed Murray Grey cattle along with poultry, turkeys and lamb. Attendees included 7 chefs, 6 farmers and 9 others (DATCP, extension, NRCS, farmers’ market, community activist). Following the tour, Chef Jack Kaestner (Oconomowoc Lake Club) provided tastings of pastured beef, poultry and eggs while discussing successful cooking techniques for grass-fed meat.

July 2007: 4th Farmer Chef Guide
The fourth edition of a local food directory specifically targeted at professional food buyers; the glossary from this guide has been incorporated into the Farmer Chef Connection website.

photo Deb Deacon    
August 2007: Back to the Land tour for chefs featured an urban farm that raises heirloom vegetables. Attendees included 15 chefs/food buyers, 2 farmer hosts, and 6 others (UW Extension, Slow Food and culinary student).