If you know me at all, you know I'm a sucker for any event that raises money for a good cause, especially sustainable food systems. Chef Week did just that by benefiting the Community Action Coalition's Double Dollars program. But the four events I was assigned to cover for ISTHMUS made me ecstatic for other reasons too.
I was thrilled to help showcase so many restauranteur pals who have brought slow food to our city in a beautiful way. I can't count the number of friends I've seen go from slaving away on the lower rungs of the service industry to opening their own classy nooks on the East Side. Covering the event brought my love for hard-working entrepreneurs and Madison's ambitious food community full circle for me. I've worked behind the bar, on the floor, in the kitchen and as a door girl. I sweated in fields growing vegetables for a farm-to-table operation and I've watched places from the stage. But this week reminded me that my most useful role in that world is from behind a camera.
Throughout the week, I got to watch kitchen talent from all parts of the city spring into the new season with an extra surge of post-hibernation energy. The events paired Madison's most celebrated food wizards, not just together, but with students in the early stage of a career.
Unprecedented collaborations led to recipe reinterpretations and kitchen swaps, not to mention a unique social concoction, rejuvenating Madison's restaurant scene with excitement and camaraderie. The series ended with a lively indoor street food party complete with 20+ sampling tables, a latin jazz sextet, and an impressive backdrop of the the Capital building. Le Toile was transformed into an uncharacteristically inclusive space while Graze maintained a more relaxed vibe thanks in part to DJ FRP and his reggae collection.