Fundraising and Foraging in Fort Wayne

On Tuesday my team and I arrived in a cool and hazy Fort Wayne, IN for a charity dinner I was doing for Blessings in a Backpack.

Blessings in a Backpack is an amazing national organization that provides food and supplies for children in underserved communities. Each week, volunteers stuff backpacks with soup, juice boxes, granola, fruit and other snacks for students from area schools. The children take the backpacks home on Friday and return them the following week to have them filled again with food for them to have over the weekend. I was invited to cook a meal for the fundraisers, which included gravlax on corn cakes, watermelon and heirloom tomato salad with crumbled goat cheese and cured ham, shrimp and scallops in curry broth, braised short ribs with berbere dusted onion rings, and white chocolate fennel tart for dessert.

I had some time before set up so I was able to check out the Joseph Decuis Farm in Roanoke, IN. Former Yankees pitcher Pete Eshelman has a pretty sweet set-up, having built an incredible farm on 300 acres of beautiful land. On his farm he has a fantastic vegetable garden, mangalitsa pigs, wagyu beef cows, heritage turkeys, hens, and so much more. He and his wife Alice own a few businesses in town including two restaurants, a food market (where customers can buy local products and some of that wonderful meat and pork), an inn, and are credited with revitalizing and preserving Roanoke and the Fort Wayne area. What I was most impressed by the Eshelman family was how dedicated they are to raising animals in a sustainable, natural environment as well as how committed they are to providing products of the utmost quality to their restaurant, just 6 miles away from the farm.  Here's a man who sees a better future and is working to share his bounty with his neighbors. That's local and global all at the same time.

Special thanks to Michael Gouloff, Paul Sauerteig, the staff at Sycamore Hills Golf Club, and the Eshelman family at Joseph Decuis Farm. See you all in New York!

 Photos Courtesy of Chris Kausch and Jeannette Park