On Monday night I had the pleasure of attending an exclusive harvest dinner with James Beard Award winning chef and Food Network star, Alton Brown. Hosted by Welch’s, the dinner took place at Table Fifty-Two in the heart of Chicago. Restaurant owner and former personal chef for Oprah Winfrey, Art Smith cooked a brilliant southern dinner celebrating the Concord grape harvest season!
Other guests of honor included Welch’s family-farm owners Elizabeth and James from New York and Mario Ferruzzi of Welch’s Health and Nutrition Advisory Panel. Elizabeth and James are two of Welch’s 1,000 family-farmer owners working timelessly to nurture their vineyards to prepare for the annual Concord grape harvest in the fall. Together they shared their stories about farming, cooking and experimenting with the star of the evening – the Concord grape! From the challenges of harvesting the fruit and the use of it as a cooking staple to the health benefits of polyphenols and Welch’s desire to continue producing the highest quality grape juice, the evening was filled with education, amazing food and great company.
Dinner began with delicious deviled eggs and parmesan biscuits – a flawless start to a good southern meal!
The entree included family-style dishes of lamb, fried chicken (fried to perfection!), braised collard greens,
and of course three-cheese baked macaroni and cheese and maple-glazed sweet potatoes!
Dessert was a peanut butter and Concord grape jelly panna cotta – delish!
Guests at the dinner included health and nutrition experts active in the local media community. It was so great meeting and dining with other Chicago dietitians, bloggers, and food enthusiasts. And of course Alton Brown – a truly talented, inspiring, and entertaining dinner guest! Cheers!