Pittsburgh chefs prepare Lawrence County farm dinners
For several years, the owners of Dawson’s Orchards in Enon Valley, Lawrence County, have been hosting farm dinners during the summer months.
Chefs from many well-known Pittsburgh area restaurants prepare the meals, says Karen Peterson, co-owner and office manager.
“They prepare five-star dinners here at the orchard, incorporating our fresh fruit and other local ingredients. The meal is then paired with wines/hard ciders/beers from a local business in our area,” she says.
“We started the dinners back in 2016 with just one. This year, we are doing five public dinners and we also have hosted one private farm dinner where a company requested an entire dinner for (its) employees,” Peterson says.
Tickets are $110 and include welcome drinks and appetizers, along with guided tours of the working orchard, Peterson adds.
This year’s remaining dinners include The Porch, with Chef Andrew Jacobson, Aug. 10; Casbah, with Chef Dustin Gardner, Aug. 24; Station, with Chef Curtis Gamble, Sept. 7; and Or, the Whale, with Chef Phil Stillman, Sept. 21.
“Most of it is based on a chef’s availability. I tend to invite back chefs from prior years first, and if the dates don’t happen to work out, it then gives us the opportunity to invite in new restaurants/chefs,” Peterson says.
The invited chefs create their own menus for the dinners.
“Our only requirement is that they incorporate the fresh fruit we have in season into the menu. Everything else on the menu has been locally sourced by the chefs as well,” she adds.
“For us, the farm dinners have not only been fun, but it’s been a great opportunity to bring our guests into a better understanding of what we do. When you work in an industry, certain things are everyday knowledge to you, but not to the general public. The farm tour that we present often becomes (a) highlight because of the opportunity it gives our guests to learn about what actually goes on at a working orchard — how much attention every tree on the orchard actually gets to be productive and healthy over the course of a year, why migrant labor is important, why conventionally grown fruit isn’t harmful, and all the steps we and so many other growers across the nation have taken over the past few years just to simply comply with new regulations for food safety,” Peterson says.
“Education is so important so that you can make informed decisions. And on top of the opportunity to educate, there is the unbelievable food. I’m always so intrigued by what these chefs can make out of simple ingredients. And not only does it look amazing, it tastes amazing,” she says.
Details: 724-667-7719 or dawsonsorchards.com/farm-dinners
Mary Pickels is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Mary at 724-836-5401, [email protected] or via Twitter .