Making Friends with Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's Estate and Trust)
A couple years ago I had the great honor of being introduce to Monticello through a gentleman by the name of Keith Nevison. Keith is the directory of the farm and nursery operations at Monticello's Tufton Farm and has amazing knowledge of plants, both wild and cultivated. I was Initially looking for some ideas of what I should be planting on my roof top garden at Evening Star that would reflect my idea of seasonal and local. Keith was very kind and gave me some ideas and pointed me in a few good directions. Our conversations progressed and after discussing our mutual love of nature he invited me to Monticello to go foraging. Having a personal invite to forage on one of the founding fathers estates (and a UNESCO World Heritage Site I might add) would have been more than enough to let me die a happy man, but it just got better from there! After a foraging trip they included me in Monticello's news letter and decided that there would be enough of a draw and asked me to present at their annual Heritage Harvester Festival about foraging and how I tied it into writing my menus. This was a indeed a highlight in my life because I was sharing about my love and passion for foraging and cooking along side some of the WORLDS best chefs and critics. People like Alice Waters, Corby Comer, Jeremiah Langhorne Just to drop a few names.
Monticello and the friends I have made there have indeed help me embrace and grow my love of foraging here in the mid Atlantic. Watching their dedication to sustainable practices and their love of how the farmers interconnect with the chefs that work with the community really helped motivate me to push forward with Heritage Foraging. I wanted to help educate people about the wonders of the world around them and how important it is we protect them. I chose Heritage Foraging because one of the definitions of "Heritage" is "valued objects and qualities such as cultural traditions, that have been passed down from previous generations". Recently Monticello has again given me a rare opportunity to live up to this definition and asked me to present on mushrooms in their inaugural episode of Chef Chat.
So in closing I'll leave you with the very first ever episode of Monticello's "Chef Chat". I encourage you to check out their link and sign up for their news letter. They always have really interesting and cool events and speakers...nod nod wink wink.