When Park Cities resident Iris McCallister set out to create a long-table dinner where local chefs and farmers would have a chance to network, she never imagined it would grow into anything more.
“It was intended to be only one time for the dinner,” she said.
However, word quickly spread about the intimate dining experience and soon everyone wanted McCallister and her then-husband and James Beard-nominated chef Matt McCallister to curate for them that same unique experience.
A couple of years later, that farm-to-table al fresco dinner morphed into a three-day culinary blowout where chefs, artisans, and foodie influencers meet up to support local and regional farmers.
Chefs for Farmers returns this year with a family-style dinner featuring a series of noted chefs at the Ritz-Carlton, Dallas, continues the next evening with a celebration of street food, and culminates Nov. 4 with the main event at Oak Lawn Park.
We sat down with McCallister to discuss the event.
Q: Why is it important for you to highlight local cuisine?
A: I feel like we are really an underrated food city. We have so many talented chefs here, and I don’t think they get recognized enough. We want people to know these chefs care about how you eat, and it is quality food, and it is great restaurants.
Q: Do you think events like yours are changing the way Dallasites view food?
A: I think so. I think it is definitely unique, and I think it is important that the chefs are showing off what they do out there and showcasing the farmer’s hard work.
Q: Why do you think the event is so popular?
A: I think because the chefs are very supportive of it. And, I think excitement can be contagious. When the chefs are excited, people can be excited. It’s also the vibe: A lot of people have referred to our event as “Aspen Food & Wine meets Coachella.”
Q: Besides the food, what is unique about the event?
A: Our charitable component is Youth With Faces (a program that gives youth in the juvenile justice system a second chance to be more than a faceless statistic), and we are raising money for the greenhouse they are trying to build.