Bacon-wrapped Texas Gulf Jumbo Shrimp and Oyster with Michelada Gel and Spiced Greens made by Isaac Cantu and James Canter for a Chef Cooperative Dinner — Photo courtesy of Kimberly Suta
If you’re always on the search for the newest, coolest and tastiest farm-to-table opportunities whenever you’re visiting a new locale, then hold onto your hat, iPhone or earbuds: San Antonio just got even more awesome! A new group called Chef Cooperative is organizing quarterly farm-to-table pop-up dinners around the city in an effort to take farm-to-table to a whole new level.
These fantastic “farm-to-fork” dinners, showcasing the fresh, seasonal bounty from local farms, are being used to actually raise money for the farms they showcase. A local farm is chosen for each event and all proceeds go to that individual farm.
Chef Cooperative is quite new, with only a few events under its belt so far. But it’s been years in the making. It was a decade ago when culinary wizards Stephen Paprocki, Chris Cook, Isaac Cantu, Jeff White, Jen Beckman Salmenia and Tyler Horsmann would play pool together after long grueling days of sous-chef’ing and dreaming of one day running their own restaurants.
With their expertise and wisdom, they planned to give back to the local farms that work so hard to provide the city with healthy, sustainable and delicious food. Fast-forward to 2014, and these culinary movers and shakers, led by the ingenious Chef Paprocki, are suddenly the talk of the town.
“Our goal is to promote the health and prosperity of South Texas farmers, ranchers, distillers, brewers and wineries and, at the same time, promote the farm-to-table movement,” explains Paprocki.
Chef Cooperative in San Antonio — Photo courtesy of Chef Cooperative
Not only are these dinners a fantastic way to explore San Antonio’s culinary landscape in one bite, so to speak, but they’re also a great way to support this slow but soon-to-be trending movement of helping the small local farms that must struggle against the tide of corporate greed. These are farms whose priority it is to grow exceptional produce and humanly-raised livestock with heart instead of GMOs.
Chef Cooperative now has over a dozen members, including chefs, mixologists and other culinary restaurant professionals. These heroes do what they do for the love of the food, the farms and their community, without any monetary compensation. In fact, more often than not, what doesn't get donated comes out of their own pockets.
San Antonio's Chef Cooperative has also been doing their part to support non-profits such as the AIDS Foundation by hosting dinners for their clients each month. In fact, since they've started, the San Antonio AIDS Foundation has seen a 400% increase in donations.
Other organizations benefiting from this altruistic cooperative and their foodie fundraising efforts include the San Antonio Food Bank for their First Annual Nutrition Summit (which took place on April 4, 2014), The Boys and Girls Club and the Green Space Alliance.
Be on the lookout for this movement to take hold, maybe even in your own backyard. Currently, its bountiful tendrils are reaching into Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Colorado and New York.
To find out more about this extraordinary group or to buy tickets to their next event, go to ChefCooperatives.com.