MILAN - VeggieU celebrated its fifth-annual food and wine celebration Saturday and it was, by all accounts, a smashing success.
Almost 1,000 people bought tickets to the event where chefs from some of the top restaurants in the country cooked tasting dishes with Chef's Garden vegetables at 22 stations. Last year, the event sold about 600 tickets.
Highlights included squash blossoms stuffed with shrimp mousse and Erie County sweet corn sorbet with butterbeans in some sort of sauce that was really amazing. This year it also featured demonstrations and book signings with Lucinda Scala Quinn, Walter Scheib III, Jeff Henderson, and Paula Deen.
The live auction alone raised more than $41,000 for the VeggieU program.
Bob and Barb Jones, founders of VeggieU, said the event's success was largely the result of the efforts of their large and dedicated staff of volunteers. Barb Jones also sent a big "thank you" to the chefs who gave up a weekend of the summer their busiest season for the cause: improving our nation's eating habits, one classroom at a time.
In the words of one chef, "we're educating children so they can learn that vegetables don't come from a can."
VeggieU is a non-profit organization that provides a five-week, fourth-grade science curriculum to American elementary schools. A box full of soil, seeds, grow lights, and worms arrives on a teacher's desk everything he or she needs to teach an innovative, hands-on, standards-compliant course.
The seeds are provided by the Chef's Garden, the Jones' family farm in Milan which is a major provider of premium vegetables to many of the finest restaurants, hotelsand resorts in the United States.