Celebrating Community Cuisine: by Ryan Keiffer
Thursday, October 1, 2009
Welcome our first guest blogger! Articulate City member (and Beet Street Executive Director) Ryan Keiffer talks cuisine, community, and why he loves living local.
I love Fort Collins. I was raised here, met my wife in junior high school here, and graduated from Colorado State University. This community supported us as we cultivated and grew a successful business here. And now, after years of giving back as an obsessive volunteer and serving on several non-profit Boards of Directors, I am fortunate enough to dedicate my career to directly impacting this community as the Executive Director of Beet Street.
All my life I have known that Fort Collins has a special uniqueness. What brings people to our city over and over again is a culture that you cannot find anywhere else. It is a culture that is focused on the unique innovations of our citizens and institutions, on the cultivation and application of our educational opportunities as a “college town,” on the culture of hard work and determination that is unique to the western United States, on the incredible recreation opportunities our geography provides to us, and on the surprising and incredible artistic and cultural offerings our community members provide for us. This is what being local in Fort Collins means, and that gives us a true sense of community.
As members of the Fort Collins community and participants in the local arts and cultural scene, we have a responsibility to recognize the rich and vibrant heritage which makes our city so unique. And Fort Collins has agriculture to thank for much of its history. Established as an agricultural colony by Larimer County in 1872, our community was also the designated site for the Colorado Agricultural College. This tells us just how dependent Fort Collins was on local farming. Today, there are several Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) farms that sell their homegrown produce directly to the community, as well as dozens of independent growers and farmers. You can find anything from dairy and cheese to salsas and salad dressings through our local food resources. Colorado State University is now a leading institution in agricultural science and environmental sustainability, and at the very forefront of natural science innovation. Our past helps us understand where we are right now, but it also shows us where we are going. Celebrating our heritage means celebrating the future of our community.
It is in the spirit of these thoughts that Beet Street presents Homegrown Fort Collins. This is a ten-day celebration that brings together people of all ages and backgrounds to develop a deeper appreciation for the bounty of our community. We’re showcasing restaurants who use local food sourcing, and helping them to connect to these sources, through our Downtown Tasting Tours, where participating restaurants feature small plates of locally sourced dishes. The featured event is the Homegrown Challenge, a showcase of our community’s culinary best. On Sunday, October 4, watch six of our top chefs go head-to-head on two fully functioning kitchens set up in the Lincoln Center to demonstrate their skills through live cooking demonstrations, also featuring local ingredients. The chefs will be competing for your taste buds as you try – and judge – their culinary creations. Each guest will enjoy six hearty tapas-style courses with sides and extras, and six beer tasters, for only $20 per person, $15 for under age 21 ($5 more at the door).
Homegrown Fort Collins is a way to connect people to their local resources, whether they are growers, consumers, or business owners. Considering Fort Collins’ deep agricultural roots, I can think of no better way to ring in the harvest season than with food, drinks, and community. If you can support local industry and business at the same time to help build a sustainable future, then you really have something to celebrate.