What’s more fun for a foodie than a farm-to-table dinner?
One answer: a farm-to-table dinner with a behind-the-scenes look at a chef at work.
That’s what Friends of the Olympia Farmers Market offers through its annual Farmers Market Agritourist Dinner Series, which concludes Tuesday with a harvest meal.
“The chef and crew will work on the stage,” said Treacy Kreger, president of the friends’ board. “It’s a dinner show. You get to watch the food being finished and plated, and there’s a small kitchen that gets used.”
The chef for Tuesday’s meal is Jeff Taylor, who owns Waterstreet Café and Acqua Via. He cooked in Olympia for 25 years, but now has passed chef duties along to his son, Will Taylor.
“This will be the only meal I’ll be making for a group of people in Olympia this year,” said Jeff Taylor, who’s spending much of his time in Port Townsend these days.
Taylor might be as close as Olympia gets to a celebrity chef. He was included in “Best Chefs America 2013,” which highlighted the top 2,500 chefs in the nation. Before his current restaurants, he owned Louisa and Capitale. And he’s writing a Waterstreet Café cookbook.
“I haven’t forgotten how to cook,” he said. “It could be an opportunity for folks who maybe have been fans to check out what I’m currently doing and thinking about food.”
Earlier this week, Taylor hadn’t yet planned the menu for Tuesday’s meal. But it will be at least five courses, paired with regional wines, and it will showcase meats and produce available at the market.
“They source as much as they can from the farmers market,” Kreger said. “I prefer that the wines be estate bottled. The winemaker is growing the grapes, harvesting the grapes, tending the wine and bottling the wine.
“Our theme is farming, whether that’s cattle or grapes.”
Taylor values local food at his restaurants, too. “Of late, we’ve really tried to emphasize local produce and local producers,” he said. Among the restaurants’ suppliers are Kirsop Farms and Colvin Ranch.
But he said it’s hard to rely completely on local produce once the cold, wet weather sets in. And that — along with the outdoor location — also explains why the dinner series happens only in the summer.
The dinners raise money for the Friends’ projects, including scholarships, capital improvement and agricultural development. One priority is to winterize the market, Kreger said.