Your Ticket to This Years Farm Roast Celebration is So Much More Than Just a Ticket to Our Most Delicious Event of the Year

Every year, we gather and celebrate local farmers and producers along with the chefs, mixologists and purveyors who make their ingredients shine. The Farm Roast is a time where rare and distinctive ingredients on the Ark of Taste, a living catalog of heirloom varieties at risk of extinction, are front and center. From a dairy free horchata made with oat milk using oats sourced from Three Sisters Garden in Kankakee, IL to farro tabouleh with feta, mint, cucumber and Moon and Stars watermelon sourced from Stewards of the Land to a Cherokee Purple tomato jam - you'll find a diverse selection of drinks and dishes at this event.

But beyond being a celebration of biodiversity, the Farm Roast is also a fundraiser that helps Slow Food Chicago to be able to provide travel scholarships for community members and good food advocates so that they may have the opportunity to attend Terra Madre Salone del Gusto in Turin, Italy. This biennial global food conference happens in late September and brings together those dedicated to good, clean and fair food - artisan and small-scale food and wine producers, as well as a forum of exchange for producers and consumers. This year, over twenty individuals will be attending the international conference from the state of Illinois. So in buying your ticket to the 2018 Farm Roast, you are not only endorsing good food values by supporting local farmers and producers, but you are sponsoring the trip of a local midwestern food activist. 

Profiles of this year's delegates are below. Don't forget that you have the chance to meet a handful of these delegates in person at our Terra Madre delegate breakout session (happening at 4:15pm). The panel is free to attend, but advanced registration is encouraged.

Thank you, as always, for your support of our vision that our environment, culture and economy are profoundly affected by what we choose to eat. We believe that everyone should have access to high-quality food produced in a sustainable and equitable way. And when you partake in an event like that farm roast, you are voting with your dollars in alignment with this view. 

See you at the Roast!


Katie Johnson, Slow Food Chicago co-President

What: Slow Food Chicago's Annual Farm Roast Celebration

When: Sunday, September 9th, 2018 / 2pm-5pm

Where: Local Foods parking lot (1427 W. Willow Chicago, IL)

Tickets: Purchase general admission and breakout session tickets here.

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An Early Summer Ark of Taste Inspired Salad

As you may recall, Chef Katie Simmons (@chefkatiesimmons) cooked up a lovely end of season Brandywine tomato recipe that we featured on our blog as we got ready to say goodbye to outdoor farmers markets last year. Now that open air farmers markets are becoming part of our weekly routines again, Katie will be collaborating with us once again on some go-to recipes that we'll post throughout the season featuring Slow Food Midwest Ark of Taste ingredients. Her first recipe for a Turkey Red Winter Wheat Berry Cherry and Chard Salad is up first. Plus, head over to Katie's site - Plants-Rule, as she breaks down how Slow Food and the Ark of Taste seek to preserve delicious ingredients from extinction. The best way you can help? By eating them, and keeping them on your plates! And this early season salad is the perfect way to get started!

Turkey Red Winter Wheat Berry Cherry and Chard Salad

Turkey Red Winter Wheat Berries are part of the Ark of Taste movement to preserve and protect culturally significant foods that are in danger of extinction. Wheat Berries are the whole form of wheat, and they provide healthy protein and whole grain fiber in this hearty vegan salad. Red chard is braised oil-free with sweet apples, onion, and dried cherries for natural sweetness and fat-free flavor. This has the flavors of winter with the hope for spring color.

Servings: 6           Ready In: 70 minutes           Skill Level: Medium           Yield: 6 cups

Wheat berry cherry and chard salad by Chef Katie Simmons - Healthy, Whole Grain, Oil-Free, Plant-Based Vegan, and utilizing the bounty of the freshest ingredients the beginning of the farmers market season has to offer.  PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE SIMMONS. SOURCE : PLANTSRULE.COM

Wheat berry cherry and chard salad by Chef Katie Simmons - Healthy, Whole Grain, Oil-Free, Plant-Based Vegan, and utilizing the bounty of the freshest ingredients the beginning of the farmers market season has to offer.



1.5 cups Turkey Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries

1 medium onion, diced

1 bunch chard, chopped

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup dried cherries

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper


Gather ingredients. Cook the Turkey Hard Red Winter Wheat Berries: place the wheat berries in a medium pot with 4 1/5 cups of water. Cover, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Simmer until the wheat berries "pop," about 60 minutes. (Tip : Soft wheat berries usually cook faster than hard wheat berries, usually tender in just 30-40 minutes.) Next, braise the apples: heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. (No oil necessary.) Peel and dice the onion. Core and dice the apple. When the skillet is hot, add the onions and apples. Let sear for a few minutes, to caramelize and bring out the natural sugars.

Whole grain wheat berries will "pop" open when done cooking. It will look like small balls, resembling large couscous, and should be tender like rice.  PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE SIMMONS. SOURCE : PLANTSRULE.COM

Whole grain wheat berries will "pop" open when done cooking. It will look like small balls, resembling large couscous, and should be tender like rice.


To prepare the chard: while the onions and apples sear, strip the chard leaves away from the stems. Set aside the leaves. Trim the chard stems and dice into 1/2-inch pieces. Rinse the diced chard stems under running water to wash off any grit. Roughly chop the chard leaves into bite-sized pieces. Set aside. Stir the caramelizing apples and onions every few minutes to ensure even browning. If the mixture seems like it's starting to burn, turn down your heat. You're looking for brown, caramel coloring. Once the apples and onions are brown all over, add the chard stems and let cook for 5-7 minutes. After the chard stems have some brown on the edges and the mixture starts to stick to the pan, add the cider vinegar. Using a spoon, scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the dried cherries followed by the chopped chard leaves. Cover and cook until the leaves are tender, at least 5 minutes. Let this keep cooking until your wheat berries are tender, up to 40-50 minutes more. Add water, as needed, to prevent burning. When the wheat berries are tender, they will plump up and "burst" open. Turn off the heat. When the chard leaves are tender, remove the lid. Let most of the liquid cook off. You want a fairly dry mixture. Combine the wheat berries with the chard mixture, walnuts, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir well and taste to adjust seasoning as desired.

Enjoy warm or at room temperature!

Chef's tip : You can use beautiful red chard for great color to compliment the dried cherries. You can also swap-in other dried fruits like apricot, golden raisins, and dried pears. Use yellow or white chard to compliment the color of dried fruit you prefer.  PHOTO COURTESY OF KATIE SIMMONS. SOURCE : PLANTSRULE.COM

Chef's tip : You can use beautiful red chard for great color to compliment the dried cherries. You can also swap-in other dried fruits like apricot, golden raisins, and dried pears. Use yellow or white chard to compliment the color of dried fruit you prefer.


Learn more about the catalog of ingredients listed on the Ark of Taste here.

Love the recipe? Follow along with personal chef, Katie Simmons (and learn why Plants-Rule) via the links below!

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Tumblr / Pinterest / YouTube

preSERVE Garden - The First Volunteer Day of the Season

It's here. The first preSERVE Garden volunteer day of the season is upon us. We'll be weeding and otherwise prepping the garden for planting this growing season.

Images from the 2016 preSERVE Garden volunteer season.

Images from the 2016 preSERVE Garden volunteer season.

We don't want to jinx anything - but we're hoping for a morning of cooperation from the elements. Just in case, be sure to bring layers as well as closed toe shoes. If you have gardening gloves, a hat, and your own water bottle, those items are recommended as well. We will be sharing a small community picnic style meal after the hard work is done - so be sure to stick around after working up an appetite from digging around in the dirt.

Can't wait to celebrate the kickoff to the season with you!

Questions? Get in touch via 

When: Saturday, April 15th, 2017 // 10am-12pm (but be sure to stick around for the picnic lunch!)

Where: preSERVE Garden (1231 S Central Park Ave Chicago, IL 60623 / Map)

More Info: See also our event page and facebook invite. Dress appropriately (closed toe shoes and layers recommended) and bring gardening gloves, a hat and a water bottle if you have them. Feel free to bring a dish to share as well!

Food Book Club SKIN CLEANSE : Recap

Sending out a BIG thank you to those who were able to join us at March's Food Book Club meeting last week where we discussed Adina Grigore's book Skin Cleanse - and extra snaps to Native Foods Cafe in Wicker Park for being such welcoming and gracious hosts! Here's a little recap of what we discussed and some questions to ponder that came up. Have you come across more info since we met that you'd like to share (or did we forget something in our summary below)? Were you unable to join us and want to get in on the conversation? Let us know in the comments!

Salt scrub envy :  We came across this recipe shortly after our meeting. This salt scrub combo calls for the addition of lemongrass and is an image from the new book   Harvest : Unexpected Uses for Extraordinary Plants  .

Salt scrub envy : We came across this recipe shortly after our meeting. This salt scrub combo calls for the addition of lemongrass and is an image from the new book Harvest : Unexpected Uses for Extraordinary Plants.

  • Rule of Thumb : We suggest not putting anything on your skin (or in contact with your skin - think, laundry detergent, etc) that you wouldn't also ingest.
  • What have you DIY'd? : Our readers had already experimented with toothpaste, shampoo, and even deodorant (we especially love shampoo bars - like bars of soap, but for your hair and typically in minimal - if any - packaging, look for them online or at boutique shops). What else are you looking forward to making yourself? Do you find that you are wasting less packaging and disposable "stuff" now that you're incorporating some DIY products into your skin care routine? Want to delve more into the world of making your own everything...? Additional recommended reading is Making It : Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen. 
  • What about makeup...? : There are loads of tutorials and tips that you can find online. We're especially excited about (someday) making the transition to crafting our own mascara - here's one tutorial we've got our eye on (ha). What about eyeliner? Alison recommends Kajal - made with natural ingredients and soot.
  • DIY Salt Scrub : Fill a jar or container with a blend of sea salts of your preference (coarse salt, epsom salt, etc). Drizzle olive oil (or other oil of your choice) on top to coat. Add a few drops of essential oil (we recommend cinnamon as it is anti-inflammatory). Mix until well blended. Store in the shower and use as needed as a body scrub.
  • S.W. Basics : In addition to being an author, Adina Grigore is the found of S.W. Basics, an all-natural and sustainable skincare line based in Brooklyn. Adina has been known for saying what a beautiful thing it would be if her company went out of business because people were making her products themselves at home. Seeing as most products are made with minimal ingredients, many of which you can find in your pantry - we don't see why not! But, when life gets in the way, her products are available for purchase online or at most Target stores.
  • Essential Oils : There are many out there - but they have a myriad of uses and purposes. Lavender is said to be calming, cinnamon is known for being anti-inflammatory, and oregano is said to be anti-viral (rub this on the bottom of your feet with a combination of olive, jojoba or coconut oil when you have a cold and it just might help you get better faster by drawing some of the toxins out). They can be used in your DIY beauty products, on your skin, or put in a diffuser. We also discussed how many of these essential oils elicit similar results "on the outside" as they would if you were to ingest them (as their original whole ingredients), which lead us to bringing up ayurvedic nutrition or, a holistic approach to health and wellness that depends on a delicate balance between the mind, body, and spirit. Want to learn more? We recommend starting with the book, The Wheel of Healing with Ayurveda by Michelle S. Fondin.

An End of Summer Tomato Recipe

Looking for a recipe to use up the last bits of tomatoes you gathered from the farmers market last weekend? The following recipe was created by Chef Katie Simmons. You can find heirloom varieties of tomatoes (like these Ark of Taste Sudduth Strain Brandywine tomatoes) at your local farmers market. These tomatoes were gathered from the Nichols Farm stand at the Lincoln Park Green City Market. I don't know about you, but after all the deliciousness that was enjoyed  this past weekend at the Farm Roast, I can't wait to get back in kitchen and cook up some everlasting tastes of summer before it slips away.

These tomatoes are one of the many unique foods in danger of extinction. One of the best ways to help prevent this from happening, is to eat them! By eating heirloom varieties and ingredients, livestock and dishes from the ark of taste catalog, you are encouraging producers to grow/raise them - and chefs to incorporate them into their menus. You can learn more about Ark of Taste, the Slow Food movement and what you can do to actively save these ingredients at: Slow Food USA.


Juicy Brandywine tomatoes are one of the best-tasting heirloom tomatoes, with an intense, deep flavor. They make the perfect vehicles for this classic vegetarian Greek recipe. In this healthful, gluten-free version, cauliflower replaces traditional rice. It's a true vegetarian delight! 

Servings: 4            Ready In: 20 minutes            Yield: 8 tomatoes

Photo courtesy of Katie Simmons. Source :

Photo courtesy of Katie Simmons. Source :


8 medium Sudduth Strain Brandywine tomatoes
1 medium head cauliflower
1 small onion
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 Tbsp currants
1 bunch parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp black pepper


-Gather ingredients. 

-To prepare the tomatoes: Working over a medium bowl, use a large spoon to scoop out the seeds and ribs. Remove as much of the juices and seeds as you can, into the bowl. Place the scooped out tomatoes aside.

-To make the Cauliflower "Rice" Stuffing : trim the green leaves off the cauliflower and roughly cut into large chunks. Set up the grater blade on your food processor, with the wider holes facing up. Place the cauliflower in the opening of the food processor and run through the grater. In a wide pan, toast the pine nuts over medium-low heat 3-5 minutes, just until golden brown. Remove from the heat and place in a large mixing bowl. 

-Place the grated cauliflower into the pan, along with the oregano. Saute over medium heat, 5-7 minutes, just until the cauliflower softens and starts to stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir often to prevent burning. Remove the cauliflower from the pan, adding to the mixing bowl with the pine nuts. Return the pan to the heat.

-Peel and dice the onion. Roughly chop the scooped out tomato ribs. Add the chopped tomato and diced onion to the pan. Cook, partially covered, over medium-high, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Remove the lid and cook off the excess juices for another 3-4 minutes. The tomato onion mixture should have just a little bit of juice, but the onions and tomatoes should be completely soft. Use a spatula to break up any large tomato chunks. 

-Roughly chop the parsley.

-In the large mixing bowl, combine the toasted pine nuts, cauliflower "rice", tomato onion mixture, chopped parsley, currants, salt, and pepper. Stir well to combine and taste to adjust seasoning.

-Fill each of the tomatoes with the Cauliflower "Rice" mixture. Use your hands to really compact the mix as tightly as you can. Serve and enjoy!

Chef's Tips: These taste delicious served slightly warm or at room temperature. If served too hot, the fresh flavor of the tomatoes gets lost. You can also make these with short grain brown rice or quinoa.

Photo courtesy of Katie Simmons. Source :

Photo courtesy of Katie Simmons. Source :

Learn more about the catalog of ingredients listed on the Ark of Taste here.

Love the recipe? Follow along with personal chef, Katie Simmons (and learn why Plants Rule) via the links below!

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram / Tumblr / Pinterest / YouTube

Slow Chicagoans : Pear Tree Preserves + Hewn

The Kirkwoods - Susie and Dieter.

The Kirkwoods - Susie and Dieter.

Ever witness the perfect marriage? Susie and Dieter Kirkwood are not only a married couple, but their passions also blend pretty well - slow food and slow fashion. Susie, of Pear Tree Preserves, crafts small batch preserves made with completely midwestern sourced  produce. Dieter, of Hewn, crafts minimalist bags and garments locally here in Chicago. The parallels between Slow Food and Slow Fashion are so intertwined and consumers are beginning to take notice. Luckily, if this crossover interests you - Susie and Dieter have got you covered! They will be joining forces for a pop-up at Boombox in Wicker Park later this month. (Keep an eye out for info about a opening celebration complete with sparkling jam mocktails.) From July 26th through August 1st, you can shop both of their "slow" wares. And if you're looking for more, there will also be a couple of workshops you can partake in - intro to canning and intro to leather craft, both available for purchase on the Pear Tree website (registration in advance is recommended). Until then, let's get down to it. Susie and Dieter share what makes their processes in both the food and the fashion worlds good, clean and fair.

What would you be doing right now on a typical workday?

Susie : By day I am a freelance graphic designer and I squeeze in Pear Tree wherever it happens to fit. So on any given day I could be sitting in a design meeting one hour then in the kitchen making jam or picking up bushels of fruit the next. I feel very lucky to be able to have that variety in my work.

Dieter : A typical studio day is a mix of designing, making, and research. Currently, it's the afternoon so I'd be working on new designs and prototypes. Sometimes that means drafting patterns on paper, other times working 3 dimesionally with materials. Most of my handbags/carrygoods start with quick form studies made out of whatever rigid material I have on hand and masking tape.

What's the best part about your job? The hardest part?

Susie : The best part about making jam is definitely the actual production. It's fun to make and it's fun to test new flavors. The hardest part for me is when I have to process the fruit (peeling, pitting, cutting), it gets very tedious and really tiring. I think pears and peaches are the worst - they are usually too soft to put through the apple peeler, so it's very time consuming.

Dieter : The best part of what I do is the working exchange between thinking and making. Design is about questioning, applying, and responding. For me, quality design requires understanding of the final use and knowledge of how that design can best be realized. There is no better feeling than sketching out an idea, engineering the best way to make it, then 5 hours later having a prototype in your hands. Executing each step in that process gives a great sense of accomplishment. Hardest part, which is also one of the most important, is in the editing. Since I currently produce all of the items for Hewn, there is a limited amount of resources and time to dedicate to a final design. So some tough decisions need to be made about which key details to focus on and which designs will be produced.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago's fashion systems (particularly in regards to "slow" + sustainable fashion) to overcome? How does this relate to any obstacles you are aware of in our food system?

Dieter : Number one would be infrastructure. Chicago lost most of the ancillary business, artisans and craftspeople that are vital to the overall fashion industry through United States policies and trade deals. Also, as with our food system, education is important. Both fashion and the food industry can be a resource intensive endeavor, knowing the real costs of the foods and fashions we as a society purchase can allow consumers to make choices that are better for the environment, others, and most importantly, themselves.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago's food systems to overcome?

Susie : I think the problems Chicago has are not unique to the city and I see lots of very passionate efforts to improve things. From the segregation in Chicago contributing to pockets of food deserts to the general disconnect between food and agriculture. We are lucky to have many great organizations addressing these issues with urban gardens for learning and job training and producing fresh food for these areas. I think there needs to be a shift in how people think of food costs. When you are a small producer, you see and experience what goes into producing good, honest products and realize that the cost is sometimes more than people are willing to pay.

What wins - avocado toast vs. artichoke toast?

Susie : I would be very happy if either of these items were placed in front of me.

Dieter : As Susie can attest to, I have a strong and visceral negative reaction to avocado, something about its' texture. So I'm in the artichoke camp.

What do you think should be up for 2016's trendiest food item - kale's successor?

Susie : Good question! Beets? I'm saying beets... only time will tell.

What is your favorite Chicago food related social media account to follow?

Susie : I love Pastoral Cheese's instagram, Cellar Door Provisions has super dreamy food photography, also Spinning J & The Logan Square Farmers Market has been pretty great lately... I could go on and on!

How does your work relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, fair)?

Susie : I relate to these objectives personally and in my business. Pear Tree Preserves uses only locally sourced produce, working seasonally and directly with the farms. It is made with love in small batches by hand and sold locally. I think of it as a collaboration with the midwestern growers. Personally, I have always loved to bake and cook and realize that those things are so much more fun, and rewarding using the best ingredients. We have a couple of chickens in our backyard for fresh eggs and some fruit trees, as well as veggies and herbs in the summer!

Dieter : Being married to a slow food producer and advocate has certainly informed the way I think about fashion and consumption as a whole. My former work in the industry followed the calcified and typical fashion playbook. We designed 2 collections a year, showed during NYC Fashion Week, adhered to the calendar that puts winter coats in stores around August and summer garments in February, and all the while felt a disconnect to the work and wearer. I'm now much more conscious and conscientious of how and why I produce bags and garments, focusing on smaller runs.

What local sources do you employ to create your pieces? Why is it important to you to source local (in fashion, in food, or both)? What sustainable practices do you employ to make your pieces?

Dieter : It's important to think about where and how the products we bring into our lives are produced. More important to sourcing local is sourcing quality (and here I mean quality in the final material along with consideration for the labour practices and resources used). To source local for local sake doesn't make much sense to me, luckily in my experience local and quality often go hand in hand.

The materials I use, which influence the design outcomes, are ones that I can see, touch, experiment, and engage with. So for instance, if I am going to work with leathers it makes sense to find local purveyors, such as Horween, since within 10 minutes I can be in their factory talking with the makers and seeing various options. By building a relationship with the artisans that produce materials, I get a better understanding of their properties, inherent beauty and qualities. This arrangement also has the added benefit of a smaller travel footprint of the materials that go into the final designs.

One of the facets of sustainability I focus on is longevity. By keeping longevity and functionality in mind, my aim is to create season-neutral bags and garments that emphasize permanence, an idea that runs counter to current mainstream industry thinking. "Fast fashion" is ubiquitous in our society and as a result clothes have become increasingly disposable. It is cheaper to manufacture impermanence for a throw away culture than to create garments made to last. This, coupled with the increased pace with which fashion trends are born and die due to social media gives the industry market incentive to create clothing with a limited lifespan. In response, I employ design elements with an expression of simplicity allowing the garments to remain viable as trends come and go. 

Why Chicago? If not Chicago, where?

Susie : I love Chicago, that pretty much says it all. Moving to the midwest from Florida was an adventure that changed my life. I feel right at home here and I am thankful that my son can grow up in such a culturally diverse and beautiful city!

Dieter : Both Susie and I are from Florida, and since moving to Chicago in 2001 have really taken to the cultural vibrancy and creative community of Chicago. There is an appreciation of quality food and design and so many opportunities to learn about and experience both. If not Chicago, then Japan. Japan has such a rich history and breathtaking landscapes.

Hungry for more? 

Keep in touch with Susie's preserve making here :

Website / Facebook / Instagram

And watch Dieter's fashion company, Hewn here :

Website / Instagram

Tomato Seedling Sale - This Saturday!

Looking for something to do this weekend? We've got you covered. Slow Food Chicago's annual heirloom tomato seedling sale will return on Saturday, May 14th. A few of Slow Food Chicago's Board Members will be hanging out in Bang!Bang!'s (Logan Square location) pie garden starting at 9am with an abundance of heirloom varieties of seedlings available for purchase. Need some extra incentive to get your backyard gardens or patio growing spaces up and running? A purchase of 3 or more seedlings will get you a free made-from-scratch biscuit from the good folks at Bang!Bang! Sounds like your weekend is shaping up quite nicely...!


Join us this Saturday, May 14th, 2016 for our Annual Heirloom Tomato Seedling Sale at Bang!Bang! Pie Shop.

Join us this Saturday, May 14th, 2016 for our Annual Heirloom Tomato Seedling Sale at Bang!Bang! Pie Shop.

When : Saturday, May 14th, 2016 / 9am - 4pm (or until we sell out!)

Where : Bang Bang Pie Shop - Logan Square / 2051 N. California Ave (map)

What : Slow Food Chicago's Annual Heirloom Seedling Sale will feature dozens of different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, grown by master gardener and Slow Food Member, Judy Casten. A full listing of available varieties can be found here.

Cost : Seedlings will be available for purchase at an estimated price range of between $4-6 (depending on variety and size). Remember, if you purchase 3 or more seedlings, Bang Bang will give you a FREE BISCUIT! All proceeds to this sale support Slow Food Chicago.

Opening Volunteer Day at the preSERVE Garden Recap

This past Saturday was the first preSERVE garden volunteer day of the season. In addition to prepping the beds, we got some seed potatoes into the ground. After a couple hours of getting some dirt under our nails and feeling the sun on our backs, we enjoyed a community meal. Thank you to everyone that came out, contributed their time (and sweat), and brought food to share. We are so excited for all that's to come this season. And if this weekend was any indication - it's going to be a good season.

Mark your calendars. The next volunteer date is May 21st (10am-12pm). Can't make the weekend work? This season, we're adding Thursday evening volunteer days. Join us on Thursday, June 23rd (5pm-7pm). Have questions? Want to RSVP? Reach out to Stefanie at

Slow Food Discount Partner Profile : Chef Chris Davies of Homestead on the Roof


The new year is just about upon us. And with another month, comes another local discount partner for Slow Food Chicago members. By becoming a Slow Food member, you are not only showing your support of a good, clean and fair food system - but you are also opening yourself up to being connected with a growing community of those who share your interest in food, the environment and local purveyors who also support this grassroots movement. One of the most tangible ways this sense of connection comes to light, is with the Slow Food Chicago chapter's Year of Slow Food. Recently launched on our website, Year of Slow Food rewards you with a year-round schedule of member discounts available for each of the upcoming 12 months in 2016.

This January, as we enter a new year, members will receive a discount off their total bill at West Town's very own farm to table restaurant, Homestead on the Roof. We had the pleasure of speaking with the restaurant's executive chef, Chris Davies. Read on to learn more about the operation of this rooftop garden restaurant - and to learn what Chef Davies thinks might be kale's successor for trendiest food item of the new year.

What was the idea behind Homestead on the Roof? How did you start?

The idea behind Homestead on the Roof was to bring a unique farm to table experience to the heart of Chicago. The concept is based around our 1,000 square foot garden on the roof and our close relationships with local farmers and artisans.

I started as a Chef de Cuisine in May of 2014. Upon our chefs departure, I slid into his position.

What would you be doing right now on a typical workday?

It could really be anything from prepping for dinner service, menu planning, communicating with various farmers or it could be various office work.

What's the best part about your job? The hardest part?

The best part about my job is definitely teaching and training the staff, watching them grow and surpassing even their own expectations. 

The hardest part of the job is the multitasking aspect of the job.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago's food systems to overcome?

I feel the biggest obstacle still relies in educating and empowering the citizens who might not have the resources to always obtain healthy and nutrient rich food.

How does Homestead on the Roof's work relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, fair food)?

I have always been a big believer in purchasing locally and supporting local charitable endeavors and farms.

What do you think is in store for 2016's trendiest food item - kale's successor?

Seaweed or sunchokes.

Why Chicago? If not Chicago, where?

I moved here with my wife in 2009 (she is from the south suburbs). If I wasn't in Chicago, I would probably be living in a smaller city such as Portland (where I am from) or Louisville.

Second favorite Chicago food related social media account to follow? (Can't be first, because of course, SFC is your first favorite.)

Chicago Food Game... it is run by a friend of mine, Corey Nunn.

Hungry for more? Catch up with Chef Davies and the Homestead on the Roof team via the links below.

Website / Facebook / Instagram / Twitter 

Want in on the discount action? Learn more about becoming a member here. See the full calendar of Year in Slow Food steals and deals here.

Slow Food Chicago Board Alumni Profile : Waleed Al-Shamma

Time for another Chicago Board Alumni Profile. Today we bring you a glimpse into the "slow" lifestyle of former board member Waleed. Perusing his profile, it becomes clear that he lives the good, clean, fair mission on both professional and personal levels and we couldn't be more impressed by his contributions as a board member and beyond. And on the heels of board member applications being due, it seems appropriate that we give his efforts to revamp the board recruitment process an honorable nod today. Read on to understand why his definition of access to "good" food can even include that scrumptious pain au chocolat you may have found yourself indulging in this morning...!  

Why did you join the Slow Food Chicago board? How did you learn about it and what motivated you to get involved?

I joined the SFC board shortly after I moved to Chicago. I had been involved in reviving a dormant chapter, Slow Food Western Mass, and I knew this would be a good way to meet like minded people and help grow the local, sustainable food movement

What project or initiative are you most proud of during your time with Slow Food Chicago? 

I worked on a lot of great projects during my tenure on the board, but I am most proud of my work reinventing the board recruitment process. It's not sexy, but it's crucial to the development of our organization and it's paid big dividends with some great board members who replaced us!

What are you up to these days?

I still work daily to help grow the local, sustainable food movement as best I can. I started LOST Foods (Local Organic Sustainable Traditional) six years ago to help local farmers and producers, who are committed to improving our food system, to grow their businesses. And for the past two years I have been working for Natural Direct - a local distributor in Chicago that has been committed to distributing Organic and/or all natural, locally produced food throughout the Chicago area since 2007.

Does Slow Food still impact your work, life, eating habits? Tell us more!

The idea of Slow Food is still very much alive in my everyday work, life and eating habits. Lamentably, I have not had time to attend nearly as many SFC events as I would have liked to over the past few years. But I keep in touch with some board members, new and old as best I can and I am as committed as ever to the principles of Slow Food.

Good, Clean, Fair. What does this mean to you?

Good food is pleasing to the palate and healthy for the mind, body and/or soul. The "or" is important, because unhealthy food can still be good in moderation - like charcuteries or pain au chocolat!

Clean food is ideally Organic and grown, raised or produced in a manner having a positive to neutral environmental impact. In processed foods, clean means being able to eat each ingredients by itself.

Fair food recognized those hardest working men and women among us who grow, raise and harvest the food we eat. This recognition must include a middle class wage, a broader appreciation of the importance of their work and the humane treatment and dignity that we all deserve, regardless of citizenship.

What advice would you give people who want to get more involved with Slow Food? Where can they start?

I would advise someone to spend a year attending SFC events and getting to know a few current board members. Slow Food means a lot of different things to different people and it's important for potential board members, or active volunteers, to get a sense of how well represented their values will be in the work they will be doing.

Anything else you want to tell us that we missed?

Keep up the good work!

Follow Waleed's Good, Clean and Fair lifestyle on Instagram (@walshamma).

Slow Food Chicago Board Alumni Profile : Jeanne Calabrese

Ready for another Slow Food Chicago board member alumni profile? Thought so. Today, we're highlighting our chat with Jeanne Calabrese. She gets right to the heart of the matter - talking about when she first heard about the movement in Italy, her involvement in Chicago with educational programming and how she still lives and breathes "good, clean, and fair". Read all about it!

Why did you join the Slow Food Chicago board? How did you learn about it and what motivated you to get involved?

I first learned about the movement in 2007 when I attended a lecture given by Carlo Petrini in Chicago in 2007. He was on a book tour promoting his book "Good, Clean and Fair." I was delighted to learn there was an existing group (Slow Food) that subscribed to the lifestyle and principles I felt passionate about. I began attending the Chicago chapter's gatherings, volunteering for their events, and getting to know the Chicago members. Shortly after this, I was asked to serve on the board.

What project or initiative are you most proud of during your time with Slow Food Chicago?

My main focus on the board was developing educational programming. We did this through a series of lectures, events and workshops including cooking, food preservation and tree grafting. These programs were and continue to be successful. By empowering people with this knowledge we promote food security and ensure these skills are not lost.

What are you up to these days?

I've been working on an urban micro-orchard in my yard. It allows me to experiment with organic growing techniques and hone my grafting and propagating skills. I grow Liberty and Sweet 16 apples, paw paws, Korean Giant, Shin Li and Naju Asian pears, a variety of currants, berries and small tree fruits along with seasonal vegetables and herbs.

Does Slow Food still impact your work, life, eating habits? Tell us more!

The basic principles behind the Slow Food philosophy is engrained in my own personal philosophy. I support local food growers and I grow myself. I have perfected a few food preservation techniques and I am always learning more. My larder is stocked and it's so nice to crack open a jar of summer tomatoes in the middle of winter or a jar of fermented fall fruits and vegetables to extend the seasons.

Good, Clean, Fair. What does this mean to you?

My talking points have always been simple:

good = our food should taste good

clean = we should grow in a way that does not harm the environment

fair = we should pay the people who grow/produce/cook food for us a fair wage

What advice would you give people who want to get more involved with Slow Food? Where can they start?

Start by examining your own approach to eating. Get to know the folks who grow and produce your food. Ask where and how it was grown. Support local farmers and eat in season. Get to know your local chapter and check out an event or two.

Anything else you want to tell us that we missed?

I sit on the Midwest Ark of Taste committee and I believe it's some of the most important work Slow Food is doing today. The Ark of Taste is a living catalog of delicious and distinctive foods facing extinction. By identifying and championing these foods we keep them in production and on our plates. The Ark of Taste is a tool for farmers, ranchers, fishers, chefs, grocers, educators and consumers to seek out and celebrate our country's diverse biological, cultural and culinary heritage.

Keep up with Jeanne on instagram (@barefeats) to see how she lives Good, Clean and Fair.

Slow Food Chicago Board Alumni Profile : Elizabeth David

This week, we are continuing with our feature of Slow Food Chicago board member alums. It's a chance to get a sneak peek at what it means to be a board member, taps you into the magic behind the Chicago team (past and present), and gives us all a chance to catch up with previous board members and see what they're up to now. Our board and membership might not be what it is today if not for those who blazed the trail before us...! Today's profile is Elizabeth David - who we caught up with to chat about her experience with Slow Food in Chicago and beyond, and she catches us up on what she's up to now. Read on!

Why did you join the Slow Food Chicago board? How did you learn about it and what motivated you to get involved?

I was really engaged with Slow Food Chicago volunteering and teaching canning workshops. I wanted to make a bigger impact in our local food community in Chicago and help to create some of the great programs I got to see at Slow Food events.

What project or initiative are you most proud of during your time with Slow Food Chicago?

My tenure on the Slow Food board was short because I moved and am now on the board in my new town. However, as a volunteer I taught many successful canning workshops.

What are you up to these days?

I moved to Whidbey Island, Washington. It's a food mecca where we can fish all sorts of shellfish and salmon, buy grass fed beef from a local farm stop on the side of the road at a farm stand to grab eggs or produce or find a farmers market just about anywhere on the Island. It's a food heaven and we even have a Slow Food board which I am on. I built them a website, now I am working on new events like a cooking class series and a food trivia night.

When I find time to get paid for work, I am an event planner at a non-profit called Goosefoot Community Fund and doing food system research. I also work part-time as an associate editor for our local arts and lifestyle magazine, Whidbey Life Magazine, where I will soon be a food writer and blogger as well.

Does Slow Food still impact your work, life, eating habits? Tell us more!

Duh! No just kidding. Yes, it's very important to me - my husband is a farmer now and so it's in our blood and our household.

Good, Clean, Fair. What does this mean to you?

These ideas are deeply embedded with me in my daily life and the work that I do. Good means food through community. Clean means producing it in a way that gives health back to our land. And fair means that all who were involved in producing the food were paid and treated rightly and that good food is accessible.

What advice would you give people who want to get more involved with Slow Food? Where can they start?

Check online for events and programs. There is so much to learn, so many opportunities to engage in and Slow Food will tell you just what's happening. Then from there you can choose if you feel like picking up a shovel or learning a new cooking method.

Anything else you want to tell us that we missed?

Nothing else except that you all have an AWESOME food community in Chicago and Slow Food Chicago is such a great site.


Slow Meat: Holiday Edition 2015

For many of us holidays are about connecting with family and friends.  We share food and time and stories around the holiday table.  Here at Slow Food we encourage you to know the story of your food as well.  By buying from local producers, you know how the animals you're eating were raised, and you help an independent farmer put food on his or her table.

Below you'll find a list of farms that offer a variety of meats for your holiday enjoyment!

Centennial Farm, Jill & Will Cummings

Breeds/Meats Available: Muscovy Duck
Weight Range: ~
Price per lb.: Call
Deposit required: no
Pick-up locations: We are 1½ hours south of Chicago and offer farm pickup. However, drop off in Chicagocan be arranged.
Location of farm: 708 E 2300 North Rd, Danforth, IL 60930
Phone: 815-269-2003
Farmer comments: We are the 4th generation and our four daughters are the 5th generation to farm and live on the homestead established by our great-grandfather in 1898. We raise all-natural hormone-free milking goats, and use their milk to make organic soaps.

Garden Gate Farm, Doug & Beth Rinkenberger

Breeds available: Broad-breasted White
Weight Range: 6-21 lbs.
Price per lb.: $3.50
Other meats available: FRESH turkeys sometimes available after Thanksgiving.
Deposit required: no
Delivery: Customer pick-up, only at the farm.
Location of farm: 6423 N 2300 E, Fairbury, IL 61739
Phone: 1-815-848-3518
Website: ~ 
Farmer comments: We raise our daughters and our livestock on a century old dairy farm here in rural Fairbury. We raise a large variety of vegetables and herbs, as well as pork and turkeys. Our birds have been on the menus of several Chicago restaurants including Old Town Social, The Girl and the Goat, Omni Hotel, and the Bristol.

Franzen Farms, Chris Franzen

Breeds Available: Standard Bronze, Broad Breasted White, Bourbon Red (Heritage Breed)
Weight Range: ~
Price per lb.: $4.00 – $6.00/lb
Deposit required: Yes
Pick-up location: At the farm ONLY, weekend before Thanksgiving
Location of farm: 18232 W. Ballou Rd, Wilmington, IL, 60481
Phone: 815-405-2713
Farm E-mail:
Farmer comments: We are a small family owned farm located in Wilmington, IL. We raise Heritage Bourbon Red, Heritage Standard Bronze and Big Breasted White Turkeys. Our heritage turkeys are listed in the Ark of Taste and are NPIP certified. All of our birds are pasture raised with plenty of oom to roam and graze on grasses, alfalfa, and bugs. Baby day old poults (chicks) are available in the spring if you wish to raise your own or enjoy a Franzen Fresh Heritage Turkey for your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner this year. We also raise Ringneck and Melanistic pheasants. Don’t wait until the last minute to reserve your birds. Call Chris at (815) 405-2713 to reserve now!

Hasselmann Family Farm, Scott & Nena Hasselmann

Meats Available: Turkey, pork, beef, lamb, ham roasts, chicken
Deposit required: No
Pick-up locations:  Palatine farmers market 
Pick-up dates: Saturday November 21st.
On-farm pickup? Yes
Location of farm: 23706 Harmony Rd., Marengo, IL 60152
Phone:  815 572 4833
Farmer comments: All our produce and livestock are raised outdoors on pasture, in harmony with the natural environment.

Mint Creek Farm, Harry, Gwen, Jonathan, & Raya Carr

Breeds Available: Black Spanish, Broad-breasted Bronze, & Broad-breasted White
Weight Range: Small (7-12lbs), Medium (12-17lbs), Large (17-21lbs)
Price per lb.: $7/lb for black$7/lb for bronze, & $6/lb for white
Deposit required: yes
Pickup Locations:  10 Chicago pickup locations available.  Click here for the full list.
Location of farm: 1693 E 3800 N. Road, Stelle, IL
Other Meats Available: Organic pasture-raised lamb, goat, beef, pork, duck, turkey, chicken, eggs, and meat & dairy CSA shares
Phone: 815-953-5682
Farmer comments: 
This holiday season we are raising two heritage breeds of turkeys, the black & the bronze, as well as classic white turkeys. We recommend trying the Black Aztec (Spanish) breed of turkey, as it is the most heritage breed on the market today. These black turkeys were first domesticated by the Aztecs! Black Aztec birds are a joy to raise, and very good at pasture foraging, with rich, buttery tasting, and balanced, full-flavor meat. Note that the bird is smaller than conventional, so you may need two instead of one. Try one or two black Aztec birds this Thanksgiving to help keep this heritage breed on the map as still raised in the Midwest! 

That being said, all of our turkeys, black, bronze, and white are raised very differently than conventional birds. No matter which breed of ours you choose it will help support humanely raised turkeys! The birds are moved every few days from paddock to paddock of fresh grass and legume pastures with Certified-Organic, non-GMO, small-batch-mixed, soyfree grain supplement. This lush pasture in addition to the highest quality, purest feed supplements result in an unparalleled turkey: both the turkey’s flavor and the health benefits gained by the bird, farm ecosystem, and consumer are huge.

Nature’s Choice Farm, Eric & Samantha Sexton

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted White
Weight Range: 16 – 22 lbs
Price per lb.: $5.00
Other products available: Grass-fed beef, pasture raised pork, chicken, eggs. Also a year-round meat & egg CSA
Deposit required: Yes. Can purchase directly on the farm website. 
Pick-up locations: Frankfort, IL, and Bolingbrook, IL
Pick-up dates: Delivery dates are still to be determined.
On-farm pickup? Yes
Location of farm: Grant Park, IL
Phone: 815-472-2934
Farmer comments: We believe animals should be raised naturally on green pasture with plenty of open space. Our turkeys roam the entire farm along with pigs, chickens, and cattle. Our beef is completely grass-fed, and we do not feed hormones or antibiotics to any of our livestock.

Organic Pastures, Marilyn & Larry Wettstein

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted Bronze
Weight Range: 10 – 22 lbs
Price per lb.: $4.39
Deposit required: no
Pick-up locations: Nov 21, Immanuel Lutheran Church, Evanston, corner of Sherman & Lake, 8am – 1pm
On-farm pickup? Yes
Location of farm: 669 County Road 1800E, Eureka, IL 61530
Other meats available: Lamb, beef, pork, chicken,  & eggs, all certified organic
Phone: 309-467-6006
Farmer comments: We are a small family farm that has been certified organic since 1997. Our turkeys are organic with plenty of pasture for open grazing. They are in a shelter at night, and during the day they peck and scratch as they please.

We farm 250 tillable acres and 250 pasture/timber acres, all organically certified. We rotate a variety of field crops including corn, soybeans, oats, flax, wheat, sunflower, vetch, rye, alfalfa, and clovers, and also raise organic beef, pork, chicken, turkeys, and laying hens. We truly believe that as stewards of the soil, it is our responsibility to provide the healthiest food possible.

Painted Rock Farms, LLC

Breeds Available: Bronze breasted
Weight Range:12-20

Price per lb.: $4.95/#
Deposit required: no
Pick-up locations/dates: TBD home delivery for $10.

On-farm pickup? No
Other meats available: all proteins
Location of farm:
 We are a farm collective. We are mostly around central Wisconsin.

Farmer comments: Painted Rock Farms is a small-medium farm collective in Wisconsin.  70% of our farmers are women. We raise pasture heritage proteins for your plate. :)

Plain View Turkey Farm, Dan Schmucker

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted White, Certified Organic
Weight Range: 13 – 20 lbs
Price per lb.: $4.99/lb
Deposit required: No
Pick-up location:  Fresh Picks warehouse, 5625 W Howard St, Niles, IL.
Home Delivery can be arranged, with Fresh Picks, 847-410-0595
On-farm pickup? No
Location of farm: S-453 County Rd D, Cashton, WI 54619
Phone / website: 847-410-0595,
Ordering E-mail:
Farm E-mail: Amish, no email.
Website: None.

TJ’s Pastured Free Range Poultry, Tim & Julie Ifft

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted White and Broad-breasted Bronze
Weight Range: 10 – 23 lbs
Price per lb.: $3.99/lb (white) and $4.49/lb (bronze)
Deposit required: yes, $10 when pre-ordering
Pick-up locations:  Dill Pickle Food Co-Op
Pick-up dates: 
On-farm pick-up: Yes, Farm pickup any day after November 15th – call for arrangements
Location of farm: 2773N 1500E Rd., Piper City, IL 60959
Other meats available: chicken, fresh eggs
Phone: 815-686-9200 or 815-848-8961 (cell)
Website: ~
Farmer comments: TJ’s has been raising turkeys for approximately 9 years. The turkeys are pastured free range on chemical free pasture. Their diet consists of no antibiotics, hormones or animal by-products. The farm is Certified Food Alliance.

Triple S Farms, Stan & Ryan Schutte

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted Bronze
Weight Range: 8 – 26 lbs
Price per lb.: $4.37-$6.13/lb, depending on weight
Deposit required: no
Pick-up locations and dates: Contact Triple S Farms for delivery information
Location of farm: 3078 County Highway 33, Stewardson IL 62463
Other Meats Available:  Pork, beef, chicken
Phone: 217-343-4740
E-mail contact:
Farmer comments: Triple S Farms is a certified organic, family-owned 200 acre farm in East central Illinois, an hour south of Champaign. Our turkeys are raised on pasture without hormones, antibiotics, or GMO feed.

Work at Triple S Farm is a family affair. Stan’s son, Owner Stan Schutte works together with his son, Ryan, co-owner, who oversees production. Jannie is in charge of marketing. Three other employees make Triple S Farm work- Quinton and Cam work with the animals as herd manager and Jackie is operations manager and does whatever needs done including sales, production, inventory, packing, invoicing and office work.  We have a great team working together to provide the highest quality meats straight from our farm to your dinner table.

Twin Oak Meats, Tom & Amy Ifft

Meats Available: Boneless/Bone-In Hams; Boneless Honey-Glazed Spiral Sliced Hams
Weight Range: 3 – 20 lbs
Pick-up locations: On-farm; Drop off in Chicago can be arranged (weekly deliveries are regularly made to Chicago).
Pick-up dates: Every Saturday 7am-1pm, from Nov. 2 through Dec. 21.
On-farm pick-up: Yes
Location of farm: 11197N 2300E Rd., Fairbury, IL
Phone: 815-692-4215
Farmer comments: All our pork products come from animals raised on our own farm, and are hormone-free. We are Humane Slaughter Certified. We also have fresh ham roasts and crown roasts which are perfect for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. For the holidays we also make a gift box ideal for holiday giving.

Wettstein Organic Farm, Emily & Dennis Wettstein

Breeds Available: Broad-breasted White
Other meats available: Pork, beef, and chicken
On-farm pickup? Yes
Location of farm: 2100 US Hwy 150, Carlock, IL 61725
Pick-up location: Meats are delivered throughout the winter to Oak Park, at the Buzz Cafe
Pick up on Saturdays- noon – 3pm
Phone: 309-376-7291
Website: ~
Farmer comments: Emily and Denny sell certified organic beef, pork, poultry and eggs directly to customers, at the summer Oak Park Farmers Market, at the Buzz Cafe in winter, and all year from their on-farm storehouse. They also raise organic soybeans, corn and other grains that they make into feed for all their animals, and for selling to neighboring organic livestock and dairy farmers.

“We enjoy everything we do on the farm,” says Denny. “The most encouraging change we’ve seen since 1985,” says Emily, “is that more and more people are coming to us for their food. City people are coming back to the farms with their own children to learn where their food comes from and how it is grown.” Denny adds, “Our experience over the past 20 years with organic farming has restored our love of farming and given us the hope that the future of farming, if we continue to think outside the conventional box, is very promising.”
- Excerpted from a profile at

Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm

Meats available: A variety of packages of beef, pork, chicken and eggs.
Pick-up locations/dates: Delivery schedule

On-farm pickup: Yes
Location of farm: 1985 N 3690th Rd Ottawa, IL
Farmer comments: 
Our smaller packages are great for special occasions or gift giving.

Slow Chicagoan Profile : Breanne Heath of The Pie Patch

Breanne Heath is the passionate one-woman show behind The Pie Patch, a slice of urban agriculture devoted to growing fruit and veg suitable for - you guessed it, pies. (Um, hello. I like pie. You like pie. Ok - we're all into it. Let's proceed.) Located in the Back of the Yards neighborhood, Breanne's pick-your-own farm was recently awarded organic certification. We got to chat with Breanne about this tremendous accomplishment, about her background as a garden and education manager, and a bit about how her farm works in tandem with the Slow Food mission. 

Your farm is now USDA certified organic. (Congrats!!) For those who may be less familiar - what does that mean and what is MOSA?

MOSA (Midwest Organic Services Association) is a certified third party entity that did my inspection (it also performs the inspections for other certified organic farms in the region). All farms, businesses, and product that are USDA certified are done so by a third party (the USDA does not directly do inspections or the paperwork, but rather oversees the process and sets the standards).

Why did you decide to have your farm and your process be certified organic?

When I first opened the farm, I got a lot of questions from customers regarding my production methods. This is great because it's now common for people to question where their food comes from and how it was produced before deciding to consume it. However, responding to so many emails and phone calls was taking a lot of time. I'm hoping with the organic certification, I'll be able to spend more time farming and less time at my computer answering emails, since many people understand what certified organic means.

Going through the organic certification process has helped me think about much more than just growing without chemicals. The production and input records are not only essential for documenting information required by the agency, but are also a good guide for evaluating my production and how I can grow better. It has also given me much more respect for certified organic farmers. Unless I'm buying from a farm operator I know personally, I now buy things I can't get from them from certified organic farmers, because I know what they've gone through - the thoughtful process and documentation of certification. 

What would you be doing right now on a typical workday?

I work full-time at Peterson Garden Project as the Garden and Education Manager, so that's usually where I am on a typical work day. I designed The Pie Patch to be a fairly self-sufficient farm: most of the crops are perennials or long-growing annuals, there's timers on the drip irrigation to keep everything watered, and being u-pick I'm not spending time harvesting, transporting, or selling at markets. I'm usually only there one weekday evening and one weekend day a week.

What’s the best part about your job? The hardest part?

Best: I've worked on this land since for five growing seasons, and know it really well. I feel more connected to what I'm doing knowing :

- when and where to look for swallowtail butterfly caterpillars

- where the bindweed tends to pop up and when

- where to find the hidden treasures of perennials and self-seeding annuals planted by gardeners long ago. 

Hardest: Doing this alone. I didn't look for a business partner because I wasn't sure if I would succeed or exactly when I would have time to do everything and I didn't want to let anyone else down. But it also means that I'm weeding for hours at a time by myself.

What do you think should be up next for trendiest food item - kale’s successor?

Beans and Peas! Seriously, there are so many different varieties out there and we only ever see a fraction of them at the store, and even fewer at the farmers' market. I'd love to see fresh beans like favas, crowder peas, butter beans and lady peas taking over!

What wins - avocado toast vs. artichoke toast?

Pretty sure I need to have both side by side asap to have a better perspective on this.

What is your second favorite Chicago food related social media account to follow (aside from Slow Food Chicago of course)?

Three Plaid Farmers on Facebook. I've seen their farm grow and their incredible harvests improve in quality each year. Or @pyritesun on Instagram.

How does your work relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, fair)?

Good - strawberries are grown in healthy, fertile SOIL. They have a particular terroir that is unmistakeable. I'm growing the same varieties in my rooftop garden, which has a different growing medium, and they aren't nearly as incredible.

Clean - even though certified organic means I can use some approved pesticides and fungicides, I haven't sprayed anything, and instead focus on keeping the soil as healthy as possible instead. The resulting healthy plants and giant earthworms speak to that!

Fair - pick-your-own helps me keep prices low - I don't have to factor in costs for marketing, harvesting, packaging or transporting. It also means that all of the food I grew in Back of the Yards gets sold in Back of the Yards.

The Pie Patch is a pick-your-own farm located at 5045 S Laflin in the Back of the Yards of Chicago that grows produce traditionally used in baking pies.

The Pie Patch is a pick-your-own farm located at 5045 S Laflin in the Back of the Yards of Chicago that grows produce traditionally used in baking pies.

Hungry for more? Keep up with Breanne and what's growing this season at The Pie Patch via the links below. 


October preSERVE Garden Day

Fall is upon us, folks. I don't know about you - but for me, fall is all about fresh starts. What better way to live up to that mantra than volunteering with Slow Food Chicago's preSERVE garden? Already a regular volunteer? You know we'll welcome you back with open arms. Never been? I'm going to answer that question with a question. If not now, when? Do it to it. This will be the last opportunity to help with the harvest in 2015. Don't miss out on this final chance. Get your hands dirty. Meet some friends (old and/or new). And break bread with your fellow volunteers after the hard work is done. We'll grill out afterwards so feel free to bring something to nosh and share after the harvest! Hope to see you Saturday...!!

Join us October 10th for a preSERVE garden volunteer day.

Join us October 10th for a preSERVE garden volunteer day.

What : PreSERVE Garden Volunteer Day

When : Saturday, October 10th, 2015 ; 10:00am - 12:00pm

Location : 1231 S Central Park Ave / 12th Place and Central Park Ave, North Lawndale (map)

Contact :  Email with questions and to RSVP.

More :

Slow Food at Chicago Gourmet

As if the excitement of being at Farm Aid last weekend wasn't enough, this weekend, Slow Food Chicago will ring in the start of fall at one of the most anticipated foodie events of the year - Chicago Gourmet. Slow Food Chicago will be participating in a demo called Slow Food : Ark of Taste Mystery Basket. Join us on Saturday at 3:30 along with Bruce Sherman (North Pond) and Jared Van Camp (Element Collective) for a discussion moderated by Chris Koetke (Kendall College). Got other things "on your plate" at that time? No worries. Slow Food will also have a table on both Saturday and Sunday in the A-D tents. Learn more about Ark of Taste products as we feature two former Terra Madre delegates - Pear Tree Preserves (Sat) and Scrumptious Pantry (Sun). Hope to see some of your "slow" foodie faces there.

Chicago Gourmet 2015 will be held on Saturday 9/26, and Sunday 9/27 in Millennium Park.

Chicago Gourmet 2015 will be held on Saturday 9/26, and Sunday 9/27 in Millennium Park.

When : Saturday 9/26, 12pm [*SFC Demo at 3:30pm] through Sunday 9/27, 5pm

Location : Millennium Park 201 E Randolph St Chicago, IL 60601 (map)

Cost : Ticket info available here.

Details : Chicago Gourmet is a celebration of food and wine presented by Bon Appetit. See site for details on ticket info.

More Info : See a full list of participating exhibitors here.

End of Summer Pickling and Canning Class

I can't think of a better way to celebrate the end of summer harvest as we prepare for fall than with a pickling and canning class. Join Slow Food Chicago Board Member and Market Manager of the 61st Street Farmers Market, Kim Werst as she leads this hands-on workshop. Attendees will learn the basics of home canning while preparing a recipe using seasonal locally grown produce. Some of the topics to be covered include low-acid vs. fruit preserves, pickling vs. freezing, food safety tips, along with proper storage and shelf life. And of course, recipes will be provided so you can go all DIY at home. You're gonna want to get on this - tickets include equipment use and produce fresh from the preSERVE Garden in N. Lawndale. Plus, you won't go home empty handed - each participant will leave with at least two jars of goodies - not to mention leaving with mad preservation skills. Don't hesitate - tickets historically go pretty fast!

Join us at Kendall College Chicago for a Pickling and Canning Class on Sun, Sept 27th.

Join us at Kendall College Chicago for a Pickling and Canning Class on Sun, Sept 27th.

When : Sunday, September 27th, 2015; 10:00am-1:30pm

Where : Kendall College 900 N. Branch Street Chicago, IL 60642 (map)

Cost : $60.00 (Slow Food Members will receive a discounted rate - check the latest newsletter for a promotion code to enter at check out - or email for more info.)

More Info : See site for more details.

Slow Chicagoans : Slow Fashion Edition

Jamie Hayes and Gerry Quinton are two Chicago gals you're going to want to get to know. Not only are they Chicagoans - who more than approve of the avocado toast trend (more on that later) - but they also just happen to be changing how we think about fashion. And they sure got this Chicagoan doing some heavy thinking after having a chance to talk shop with them. Together, they own Department of Curiosities in Logan Square - a collaborative space housing Jamie's company Production Mode and Gerry's Morua. Ethical leather and corsets, oh my! I know. Are you as excited as I am? Okay. Good. Without further ado - let's get to the good stuff.

What would you be doing right now on a typical workday?

Wearing so many hats! We produce our lines ourselves, in-house, so a typical day would include cutting for production, sewing or working with our stitcher to have work sewn, inspecting work, not to mention researching, sketching and pattern making for lines in development, fitting work on clients and fit models, and marketing, selling, and shipping work. And of course super glamorous work like taking out the trash and trips to the hardware store round out our days.

What's the best part about your job? The hardest part?

The best part is autonomy - we can create whatever interests us. We can schedule our days in the ways that work best for us. We can surround ourselves with a community of creative people and clients that inspire us.

The hardest part is staying organized and focused. When everything and anything is possible, it's so important to create and maintain parameters for working. It's hard to switch hats so many times during the day and for us, this year will be about how best to organize and use our limited time and resources, and figuring out when and how to delegate/collaborate with other people so as to continue to create and produce at a high and satisfying level.

What do you think is the biggest obstacle for Chicago's fashion systems (particularly in regards to "slow" / sustainable fashion) to overcome? How does this relate to any obstacles you are aware of in our food system?

NAFTA and subsequent trade agreements have meant that in the past 25 years we've gone from having over 50% of our clothing manufactured in the US to merely 2%. So our infrastructure, from weaving mills to fabric sales reps to patternmakers to contractors, has been decimated. Add to that the rise of fast fashion in our industry, and domestic designers really have trouble competing - especially since many customers now are really only familiar with fast fashion and may not understand the differences in quality - not to mention the deleterious effects of fast fashion on the health of workers, our economy, and the planet. The appreciation of quality fabrics, cut, and construction is also diminished by fast fashions emphasis on disposable clothing and ever-evolving trends. Plus it's rare for people to learn how to sew these days and thus our connection to how clothing is made has been diminished.

Many similar same obstacles exist in the food industry, and many have been addressed by the slow food movement - so we're very inspired! For example, as consumers of food, over the past several generations, we've been increasingly disconnected from the sources of our food supply - because much of our food is coming from far away places, because it's often being grown by vast agribusiness, and because much of it is processed into something that barely resembles food.

The effects of these issues are similar in both the food and garment industry - small farmers struggle to stay on their land, whether growing food or natural fibers for processing into cloth or livestock for wool or leather are grown on farms, and struggle to compete when using "slower" practices like organic and free-range farming. In the fashion industry, we also have the issue of vulnerable workers (often young girls sent from the rural villages where farmers are struggling to keep their land) migrating to mega-cities to work in the garment industry for 80+ hours/week for very little pay, often sending the majority of their pay back home to try to keep families on their land or to fund the education of children in the family. Because production happens somewhere so far away, because we no longer understand the vast amount of human labor that goes into making clothing, and because the price of clothing is so cheap now, it's easy to forget to value clothing at all - it's become a disposable commodity.

In doing so, we lose so much. Not only do farmers and garment workers suffer from low pay, but also the planet suffers because so much of the industry is unregulated and dyes, pesticides, and chemicals resulting from garment manufacturing are being dumped into our soil and waterways. Not to mention the vast amounts of textiles that end up in landfills each year. But also notable is that we've lost our connection to our clothing. Clothing - like food - can be a source of joy, culture, and self-expression. We have to get dressed everyday so we might as well make what we wear reflect our values and personality and choose something meaningful and healthful, to workers, the planet, and to ourselves.

A Production Mode black leather bag.

A Production Mode black leather bag.

What wins for fashionista brunch - avocado toast or artichoke toast?

Avocado toast! Gerry was born and raised in Costa Rica with native avocados and then lived many years in England where the avocados are very sad and subpar. Jamie has always lived in the not-tropical Midwest and would consider a localvore diet if avocados and mangos were allowed exceptions!

What is your favorite Chicago Fashion related social media account to follow? Are there any Chicago food related account you follow that stand out (aside from SFC, duh)?

Chicago Fair Trade! The Fair Trade movement is another place where slow food, fashion and appreciation of craft and artisanal production meet.

A stunning and romantic corset piece by Morua.

A stunning and romantic corset piece by Morua.

How does your work relate to the Slow Food objectives (good, clean, fair)?

Jamie's line Production Mode uses vegetable tanned leather produced by local, unionized tannery Horween. The tannery provides living wage jobs, in Chicago, and so do we! Also, vegetable tanning is a slow, traditional process that uses only vegetable matter to tan the hides. This process is in contrast to the chrome tanning used in 90% of leather production in the fashion industry. Chrome tanning uses chromium - a heavy metal that can become carcinogenic if not properly disposed. Plus, vegetable tanning produces a beautifully variegated hide that develops a beautiful patina as it ages, and thus lasts much longer than chrome tanned hides.

Gerry's line Morua is focused on creating perfectly fitted heirlooms. They are the antithesis of fast fashion. Corsets and gowns are hand-crafted from start to finish for each individual. Measurements are carefully taken and several fittings are needed for a bespoke piece. Each pattern is drafted to the client's measurements, hand-cut from specialty and luxury fabrics, and stitched one by one in our workshop. The metal bones for corsetry are hand cut to size and tipped on our very own workbench. Finally, the binding is hand stitched invisibly and embellishments are applied by hand. Many of our favorite embellishments are antique laces, buttons, rhinestones and trims. These are not only one of a kind but were made in a time when more care and artistry were put into these objects. The amount of work that goes into an elaborate piece is more than in a hundred fast fashion dresses. The result is a cherished, well-fitting piece that will stand the test of time.

Jointly, under the Department of Curiosities brand, we are designing a line of 1930's and 40's - inspired silk lingerie. It will be handmade in our Chicago studio, beautiful, and built to last. We're currently in talks with mills in Italy and fair trade producers of hand-woven goods in India to find the prefect, high-quality, ethically-made fabric.

Most important to both of us is the concept of transparency. This concept of provenance of materials and labor is unfortunately still very rare in the fashion industry, mostly because brands are cutting corners everywhere they can and don't want to be held responsible for tragedies like the Rana Plaza Factory collapse of 2013 in Bangladesh in which over 1,000 workers were killed in a totally preventable - and foreseen - building collapse.

A close up detail of one of Production Mode's vegetable-tanned leather pieces.

A close up detail of one of Production Mode's vegetable-tanned leather pieces.

What local sources do you employ to create your pieces? Why is it important to you to source local (in fashion, in food, or both!)?

We love to support local sources! It's a challenge to do so, however, because Chicago's fashion industry has dwindled so much in the past generation. Still, we're beginning to see things turn around in the US as more and more small brands and manufacturers enter the US market and more and more consumers begin to ask questions about where and how things are made.

As mentioned above, Production Mode sources leather from Horween tannery, located just a mile or so from our shop at Armitage and Elston. The natural color leather used in the line has been embellished with a screen print executed by Chicago artist Nora Renick-Rhinehart

Morua faces more challenges in sourcing locally. Corsetry relies on metal components from the medical industry of which the best come from Germany. Likewise, specialty heritage textiles specially made that have been in continuous production in Europe for over a century are not available in the US. Morua does source and re-purpose vintage and antique components for decorating and embellishment and supports as many small local distributors and manufacturers as possible.

Both of us cut and sew in-house so we keep it very local in that regard!

Likewise, our shop is located in Logan Square and we both live in the neighborhood and love our Sunday farmer's market.

All that said, we still love our non-local avocados and silks from abroad.

How do you see your corsets in particular (a fashion staple from the past) as a piece vital for the fashion movement of the present?

Corsets are fascinating for many reasons, including their loaded history, and the myths and assumptions that surround them. I don't see them as items of fashion, but as wearable objet d'art : little luxuries with the power to transform. For a wedding they are lovely and create the ultimate romantic silhouette; as undergarments they are supportive and empowering and for some even healing; and for special occasions and performance they are delectable showpieces.

A hand-crafted corset by Morua.

A hand-crafted corset by Morua.

Why Chicago? And if not Chicago, where?

Chicago rents are so cheap that we can afford (barely!) our beautiful production space/showroom. We couldn't afford a similar space in say, New York. Also we are very inspired by our membership in the Leagues of Women Designers (LWD) - in fact we'll be hosting a show of member work at our space this December. As noted recently in Forbes magazine, Chicago has the highest percentage of female entrepreneurs in the world. We definitely feel that love and support here in Chicago!

Gerry lived in London for many years before moving back to Chicago and still travels there to work regularly. As a source of inspiration the layers of history, multicultural collage and creative street fashion, London is phenomenal. A part of Morua is always in London.

If not Chicago, Jamie could see herself potentially in Mexico City, where she worked for several months with a labor rights organization. Mexico City got a hold on her heart - the delicious food, community of artists and artisans, and its rich textile traditions.

Want to learn more about these fascinating fashion ladies? Check out the links below.

Department of Curiosities / Facebook

Production Mode / Facebook / Instagram / Blog / Horween 

Morua / Facebook / Instagram

Slow Food at Farm Aid

Yes, you read that right. Slow Food is going to be... AT. FARM. AID. Boom. Are you as excited as we are? Before the party starts, we'll be hanging at the HOMEGROWN Village with a myriad of other game changing food and farm groups. Stop by and talk "slow" with us! And then go rock yer socks off.

It's the big 3-oh. Farm Aid's 30th Anniversary is this weekend - Saturday, September 19th in Chicago. 

It's the big 3-oh. Farm Aid's 30th Anniversary is this weekend - Saturday, September 19th in Chicago. 


Time : Noon - 5:00pm

Location : On the lawn at Farm Aid (First Merit Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island / S Linn White Dr, Chicago, IL 60605) - [map]

Cost : Free for concert goers.

Details : On concert day, the HOMEGROWN Village welcomes fellow concertgoers to learn more about good food and family farmers through hands-on activities. Come check it out and visit us in the FarmYard to meet other farmers and Farm Aid friend from around the country.

More Info : About the Concert / About HOMEGROWN Village


Pie Patch Crop Mob

If you, like me, saw the phrase "Pie Patch" and immediately fell in love - first of all, call me. Secondly, do we have a volunteer opportunity that was made for you. The Pie Patch is a pick-your-own farm in the Back-of-the-Yards that grows perennial fruits and annual veg (think strawberries, apples, pears, plums, raspberries, rhubarb, sweet squash, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, concord grapes). What do these items have in common...? They are traditionally baked in PIES! Flakey crust + goods from the earth = YUM. Breanne Heath founded this little slice of heaven (pun intended) - a long-time friend of Slow Food Chicago and a 2014 Terra Madre delegate to boot. You just fell in love a little more - didn't you? Then what are you waiting for - sign up for this urban Crop Mob coming up this Sunday (9/20).

Hi, I like to be baked into pie.

Hi, I like to be baked into pie.


When : Sunday, September 20, 2015 / 1:00pm-4:00pm

Where : The Pie Patch (at Su Casa Catholic Worker) 5045 S. Laflin Chicago, IL 60609 (map)

Details : If you're interested in volunteering, please email -