Story and photos by Sue Wasserman
Deepening connections to customers is important to Nicole DelCogliano and Gaelan Corozine, who own Green Toe Ground Farm. To fulfill their desire, the down-to-earth couple hosts annual field-to-fork dinners under a big-top canopy on their Celo property. The biodynamic farmers serve what they grow, and fill in any menu gaps with fish, meat or produce from other area providers.
“The only point of contact we used to have with the individuals who eat our food was at area tailgate markets,” DelCogliano says. “We rarely got to sit down and eat our food together. To strengthen people’s understanding of farming and what it takes to grow food, we felt like it was important to offer a meal at the farm, prepared with our hands, using the food we grow here.”
They put their first event together in 2009 at a time when few farmers offered such opportunities. Since then, the duo has turned over the spatula to guest chefs, allowing the hosts to spend more time mixing and mingling with their guests.
The journey to Celo— located in rural Yancey County—is part of the adventure. Winding along rolling hills that are dotted with farms, streams and mountain views is a meditation of sorts, and certainly an appealing appetizer to kick off the evening.
Like a coin, there are two sides to DelCogliano and Corozine’s farm dinners. First, there’s the camaraderie of people whose culinary curiosity has brought them together. Let’s face it; it’s fun to talk about food and flavor with a diverse mix of people who appreciate great meals.
Then there’s the dinner itself. Personally, I got the biggest kick from watching my tablemates’ faces as they took a first bite of a melt-in-your-mouth smoked trout belly and savory summer sausage, two of the dishes we sampled one July evening last summer.
Three of last year’s talented under-35 chefs—Austin Kosater (Inn on Biltmore Estate), Austin Whitty (Nightbell) and Vince Hogan (freelance)—are returning Sunday, June 25, to collaborate on a menu whose theme is The New South. “We’ll be reinventing southern classics through the eyes of the young chef,” Kosater says.
Rhubarb’s John Fleer will be spearheading a second event on September 24. “Although we aren’t sure of the theme yet, we revere John and are confident it will be a night to remember,” DelCogliano says.
It’s clear guest chefs relish the opportunity to showcase their work in such a scenic setting. Watching them dart about as they bring their dishes to life is part of the evening’s entertainment, as well as a great photo opportunity for those who want the taste of the evening to linger in their memories.
The cost per person for each event is $70. Reservations can be made at greentoegroundnc.com.