Graywall Farms hosts Chef to Farm dinner
By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Lebanon - posted Tue., Jul. 23, 2013
As the cows munched placidly on their feed in the barn below, a group of visitors, dressed summer casual chic, arrived at Graywall Farms for “Full Moon Disco” on July 19. Accompanied by the sounds of clinking glassware, classical music and twittering birds, employees of the Max Restaurant Group worked to welcome guests, serve drinks and set out hors d’oeuvres.
Beneath one end of a large, white tent, members of Skyway Band, a six-piece R&B dance band, began to set up on a small stage adorned with green corn stalks. The evening would consist of drinks and hors d’oeuvres, a farm tour, dinner complete with linen napkins and fine wine, a wagon ride, and dancing beneath the full moon.
In the al fresco kitchen, Max Chef Scott Miller supervised activities. 2013 marks the fifth year for the Chef to Farm series. “We’ve held dinners at six different farms throughout the state,” said Miller. Dinners are frequently held at Rosedale Farms & Vineyards in Simsbury. Last year, Graywall partnered with Max for “Bluegrass, Beers and Barbeque,” which will be repeated this year in August. Wanting to add another partnership to the season, Miller and Graywall owners Lincoln and Robin Chesmer came up with the new theme.
“We knew when we wanted to hold it, we looked on the calendar, and there was going to be a full moon that night,” said Miller. Menu items were designed playfully around the theme of disco, featuring selections such as “Barry White’s Aphrodisiac Oysters,” “ABBA Meatballs,” “Disco Duck” and “Donna Summer Slaw.” But more importantly, the menu was developed around fresh local ingredients.
“I’ve always felt it was a challenge to represent to diners what local was all about,” said Miller. Chef to Farm utilizes the freshest local ingredients and gives diners an opportunity to come face-to-face with the growers who produce the food. “I feel good about serving it, and it tastes better because there’s a story behind it,” said Miller.
Miller’s menu for “Full Moon Disco” featured milk from Graywall, shellfish from Noank, veal from Colchester, pork from Broad Brook, duck from New Hartford, shrimp from Stonington and feta cheese from Lyme, among other local foods. “The road less travelled means a better end result,” said Miller. “We buy from farmers we trust, and who are trying to do things the right way.”
Graywall Farms, operated by Robin Chesmer and his son Lincoln, started business in 1989. The farm has grown to include 700 acres of owned land, 400 dairy cows and 280 calves and heifers, mostly Holsteins. The farm grows corn and hay to feed their animals. Graywall is one of six members of the Farmer’s Cow collaborative. The farm will partner again with Max Restaurants on Friday, Aug. 16, for "Bluegrass, Beers & BBQ.”
The Max Chef to Farm dinner series has several more dinners planned for the 2013 season, including a Saturday, Sept. 7, dinner at the Nathan Hale Homestead in Coventry. For a full listing of Max Restaurant Chef to Farm events, go to http://www.maxcheftofarm.com/2013/04/blog-post.html.