For the second year in a row, I had the pleasure of catering an appetizer lunch for some deserving teachers at Christ the King school in University City. Not only did I get to help celebrate the hard work the teachers have done all year by creating a menu of decadent wintery items, but also, much of the produce I used was locally grown and sourced by Andy Ayers, the owner and operator of Eat Here St. Louis. He connects local hands-on farmers from the Missouri and Illinois region with chefs who want to take advantage of local produce. I’m super excited to now be partnering with local growers through him. One of my favorite items from this holiday party menu, pickled shrimp with hot chili peppers (from Jefferson County, MO), lemons, onions, fennel, coriander, bay leaf and white wine vinegar, will make you never want to eat shrimp any other way. I also featured a winter wheat berry salad with roasted mushrooms, parmesan, lemon, and parsley (the wheat berry was from Terra Bella Farm in Audrain County, MO). To me, squash is a quintessential winter produce, so when I found out Todd Geisert (in Washington, MO) grew butternut squash, it inspired me to create a butternut squash crostini with ricotta and fried sage leaves.
Happy holidays to the faculty at Christ the King, and thank you, Andy, for all of the fresh, local flavor!