About 100 folks enjoyed a farm dinner at Fossil Creek Creamery Sunday night that benefited the Pine Strawberry Fuel Reduction Inc.
All local produce, meat and dairy was used to prepare a four-course dinner, plus a reception and appetizers.
Participating in preparing this fabulous feast were Chef Akos Szabo, Top of the Rock in Tempe; Chef Gerardo Moceri, Gerardo’s Firewood Cafe in Payson; Chef Tracy Dempsey, pastry chef from Scottsdale; Chef Tammie Coe, owner of Tammie Coe Cakes; and Chef Michael Dahling of SYSCO food service. Vita-Mart provided produce from its 25 local producers.
The evening’s menu included:
Moceri’s arancini, crostini tipici Toscana, caponata alla siciliana showcasing local vegetables from Vita-Mart;
Chefs Tammie Coe’s and Dempsey’s peach-cucumber shot and rosemary-pistachio sable;
Moceri’s salad of petit lettuces with Vita-Mart’s organic tomatoes, green beans and white balsamic vinaigrette, with bread provided by MJ Breads;
Chef Michael Dahling’s tandoori redbird chicken with Fossil Creek yogurt, toasted quiona and cucumber salad, local date and chili gastrique;
Szabo’s Goldwater’s barbecue glazed White Marble Farms’ pork belly with Fossil Creek cheddar “mac & cheese,” English peas, petit herb salad, Ray’s “not yet famous” garlic vinaigrette; and
Coe’s and Dempsey’s Fossil Creek goat cheese tart with strawberry-lavender compote and lavender honey; and goat cheese chocolate truffle with caramelized fig, gooey almond-chianti reduction.
Chuck Casey and his fiddlers provided music under the stars to entertain the guests.
John Bittner, who owns and operates Fossil Creek Creamery with his wife, Joyce, said the evening provided an opportunity for their guests to learn about local supplies and how many Valley restaurants make use of locally produced goods.
“Gerardo uses local produce all the time,” Bittner said of Moceri, who owns and operates Firewood Café in Payson.
He said it was also a great way for people to meet their neighbors.
About the chefs
Chef Szabo, Chef de Cuisine at Top of the Rock Restaurant, Tempe, Ariz., was winner of the Best of Phoenix 2011 in eight categories.
From the moment his grandmother sat him on a kitchen stool to hear her stories of growing up in Guatemala while preparing dishes handed down from generations of women before her, Szabo fell in love with cooking.
He graduated from the Scottsdale Culinary Institute and was mentored by Chef James Boyce at Mary Elaine’s at the Phoenician. He worked at the AQUA restaurant of the St. Regis Monarch Beach in Dana Point, Calif. and spent a month touring Spain and immersing himself in traditional Spanish cooking.
Chef Moceri, a native of Michigan, relocated to Arizona in 1998 and opened Gerardo’s (now Gerardo’s Firewood Café), where he continues to create culinary feasts that feature his Italian heritage. Moceri has studied in Italy with the famous Locanda dell’Angelo and world famous chef Angelo Paracucchi. He apprenticed at LaMora in Lucca, Italy; Trattoria dall’Ameglia in Mestre, Venise and the Confisserie Bachman in Lucerne, Switzerland.
Moceri accepted a position in Kauai, Hawaii at the Hyatt Regency in 1990. There he fused the traditional Hawaiian flavors with contemporary Italian cuisine.
Since coming to Payson, Moceri, along with his staff, have been involved in numerous community activities, including seasonal wine tasting dinners, cooking classes for adults and children, catering services and preparing benefit Italian dinners for different clubs and organizations.
Chef Dahling is a corporate chef with SYSCO food service of Arizona. He is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, Hyde Park, N.Y. and the Italian Culinary Institute for Foreigners in Turino, Italy. He has worked in private restaurants, hotels, casinos, country clubs and as a private chef and caterer. He is also a local Pine weekend warrior.
Chef Dempsey is owner of Tracy Dempsey Originals and has been incorporating her dessert expertise into a line of small batch boutique confections and desserts since 2010.
Chef Coe, owner of Tammie Coe Cakes, likes taking chances and following her instincts. The results: a four-tiered, multi-colored wedding cake with draped and folded fondant and airbrushed roses; Frisbee-sized cookies and more.