SOUTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. — When the James Beard Foundation's Celebrity Chef Tour came to the Wainer Family Farm last Saturday, it was the culmination of a year of planning. But the seeds were sown back in 2002 when Henry and Marion Wainer bought the Bettencourt Farm's 22.5 acres, saving the land from becoming six house lots.
Today, students and chefs from around the world visit the farm to learn about its produce and innovative techniques and maybe even create new recipes while they are there.
For the benefit dinner for 125 guests, the farm's signature micro greens and produce were utilized by the chefs, including the Cucamelon, grape-size watermelon that taste like cucumbers.
Wainer, proprietor of New Bedford's Sid Wainer & Son, has grown the family's specialty food business to supply more than 30,000 of the world's finest restaurants, retail outlets and food establishments. It's a family affair with daughters Allie, executive vice president, and Jamie, director of business.
The Wainers have relationships with many of the chefs as well as with other purveyors, including Island Creek Oysters and the Russell family of Westport Rivers Vineyard and Buzzards Bay Brewing, both of whom contributed to the event, which raised money for the James Beard Foundation and scholarships.
For the dinner, Chris Cronin of Farm & Coast Market, South Dartmouth, roasted 60-day dry-aged Jordan Farm beef and served it with cipollini onion, baby mustards and lobster mushrooms.
Daniel Bruce of the Boston Harbor Hotel served ricotta gnocchi with a smoked sweet corn purée and foraged wild mushrooms with Wainer Family Farm microgreens Hearts on Fire Sorrell. He also made a canapé of Togarashi Laced Salmon Belly Tartar, Crisp Wontons and micro cilantro.
Mary Dumont of Cultivar, Boston, served thin slices of Nantucket Bay Scallop Crudo with heirloom tomatoes, Cucamelons, lemon verbena and Nasturtium pistons.
Slow-cooked halibut with chickpeas and warm tomato essence was prepared by Ashfer Biju of the Pierre in New York City. Pastry chef Michael Mignano, also of the Pierre, served Concord grape creamsicles with blueberry croustade.Charcuterie was made by master butcher Marc Pauvert of Four Seasons Hotel in Spring House Farm in Virginia and he also made a frisée salad with duck gizzards confit and a Perigord Vinaigrette.
Guests came from around the country for the dinner, which was also attended by Jeff Black, the director of the Celebrity Chef Tour. He regaled the crowd with stories, including one about the first ever James Beard House dinner, which was served in 1986 to 12 people at a cost of $40 apiece.