Letter: Thanks to a lot of generous people . . . 

It’s more than two weeks after the 2014 Taste of Rappahannock benefit, and I am still in awe of all those who stepped up to volunteer their help or donate to ensure guests had a thoroughly enjoyable dinner. Somewhat belatedly, I want to publicly exclaim my thanks and kudos to all those who helped with food preparation!

Julie Banks, the Rappahannock County Elementary School cafeteria manager, and her staff welcomed us to the school kitchen, where a lot of prepping and cooking took place the week before the event.

Camille Clement-Racer and Dabney Kirchman peeled, sliced, chopped and minced heaps of vegetables, herbs and garlic . . . and cut and skewered over 80 pounds of beef kebabs for two long afternoons each. Camille, Sara Garcia and Ann Stenner became kitchen assistants on Saturday afternoon until late in the evening, doing everything that needed to be done for a dinner with several hundred guests: mixing, saucing, plating, setting-up the buffet, serving and . . . cleaning and bagging leftovers!

At the meat-grilling station, Keith Rowand slow-roasted four pork shoulders and grilled 320 kebabs. Jason Ratcliff and Jeff Reynolds, both cooks from the Griffin Tavern, and Pete Stenner helped manage the fire, cut and grill to ensure timely arrival of the meat on the table.

Guests were also able to enjoy dishes prepared and donated by several of our local restaurants: a roasted potato salad from the Flint Hill Public House; a Mediterranean roasted cauliflower salad and a scrumptious couscous, both by Rachel Rowland/Griffin Tavern; Terri Lehman’s signature roasted salmon salad (Thornton River Grille Catering); a ratatouille by Tom Nash/Tula’s off Main; a splendid coconut cake from the Country Café, as well as baklava, chocolate and candied orange-peel balls, and chocolate cream puffs by Brooke Parkhurst/Triple Oak Bakery. Thank you all for your generous donation of food and for taking the time to make it.

Chef Kurt Streu and the students of the high school culinary program prepared, plated and served the hors d’oeuvres, appetizers and some of the desserts. Among their contributions were bite-sized Mediterranean-inspired hors d’oeuvres; a chilled peach soup with homemade crème fraiche; focaccia bread; a tomato salad with peach vinaigrette; watermelon lime-sorbet; nectarine cake; and apple strudel. Although I will not repeat all of the students’ names whom Headwaters director Jane Bowling-Wilson thanked two weeks ago, I want them (and you) to know that their delicious work was appreciated by all.

And finally, we all owe huge thanks to the hard-working and generous people who raised the animals or grew the fruit and vegetables used for the dinner. It truly was a “Taste of Rappahannock.” The list is long and diverse: Mike Biniek and Susan Hoffman of Belle Meade Farm (pork shoulders); Larry and Kathy Grove of Belle Ridge Farm (most of the beef, as well as pork shoulders); Lois and Doug Aylestock of Blue Ridge Meats of Front Royal (beef processing); Kevin and Rachel Summers of Crowfoot Farm (eggs); Molly and Mike Peterson of Heritage Hollow Farms (beef); James Jenkins of Jenkins Orchard (peaches); John Burns of Goat Hill Farm (tomatoes); Bryant Lee of Lee’s Orchard (apples); Dorothy and Louis Moore of Moore’s Orchard (apples); Roy and Janet Alther of Roy’s Orchard (watermelon, corn, cucumbers); Nick Lapham and Sean McDermott of The Farm at Sunnyside (green beans, onions, garlic); Rachel Bynum and Eric Plaksin of Waterpenny Farm (squashes, peppers, herbs); and Eddy and Karen Williams of Williams Orchard (apples). Not to mention Terri Lehman, who sourced non-local ingredients for the dinner.

It’s a long list. But it takes a lot of people to pull off an event like Taste of Rappahannock. Thank you all!

Sylvie Rowand
Food committee chair, Taste of Rappahannock 2014

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