As interest in our Locals increases around the country, we’ve heard from a handful of people who want to get more involved in their area. One is farmer/chef/entrepreneur Dave Thomasson down in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Dave has been hard at work pulling together area talent and organizing a new Local to further the Chefs Collaborative mission. It’s with this in mind that the Local held it’s first event, a Save Bristol Bay Dinneraround our work with Trout Unlimited and efforts to preserve some world’s most pristine wild salmon habitat. Dave reports: 

Wild Alaskan Sockeye

On July 7, 2012, the Chefs Collaborative Knoxville Local held its first public event at the Plaid Apron Café’ in Knoxville, hosted by Drew McDonald, chef/owner of the Café’ and Dave Thomasson, chef/owner of Farm-to-Griddle Crepes and the Knoxville Local Leader.

Dave and Drew built the inaugural event around the effort to save Bristol Bay sockeye salmon, with a meal lovingly prepared by Drew. With the two men sharing hosting duties, Drew introducing his all-locally-sourced meal right before dropping the last of the well marbled, vibrant orange-red, salmon on the grill, and Dave talking about some of the history and driving principles and mission behind Chefs Collaborative. Dave expressed what he envisioned the new Local hosting in the community over the next couple of years, and what he hoped it could eventually accomplish… an East Tennessee or Regional Sustainable Food Summit.

The 55 seat Southern-style BBQ meal sold out well in advance and the house was abuzz by dinnertime, with all enjoying the community company, not to mention the BYOB option.  It certainly helped that Drew encouraged everyone to be fun and casual—to make this a real “get-up-and-meet-your-neighbor” type of event. Name tags made life a little easier. Dave’s wife Helen handled the front door greetings and corkscrew, while Drew’s wife Bonni, the Plaid Apron’s day-to-day manager, handled the rest of the front of the house.

The craft brewers and their wives

Attendees included several artisan producers including craft brewers Ben Seamons and Jason Shoemaker, Trout Unlimited members, Chefs Collaborative Knoxville leadership committee members, including the head of Slow Food Knoxville, Christopher Moore, executive chef of the Knoxville Convention Center, and Dr. Lydia Pulsipher. While Lydia may be the honorary consulate to Slovenia, her most important role this night was bringing her tree-ripened figs for the meal. Drew proclaimed figs to be his all-time, number one culinary passion.

Fun was absolutely had by all; Chefs Collaborative Knoxville has taken hold; Save Bristol Bay brochures flew out the door, and the meal was described by all as divine.

Drew McDonald’s Save Bristol Bay Sockeye Salmon BBQ Menu

July 7, 2012

Grilled Wild Sockeye Salmon and Honey Peppered Figs

Peach Tea Brined Smoked Sockeye

Poached Salmon Rillette – Bronze Fennel, Pickled Snap Pea, Ciabatta

Basil Marinated Roasted Ambrosia Sweet Corn on the Cob

Roasted Market Vegetable Pasta Salad – Summer Squash, Eggplant, Sweet Onions, and Sorghum Herb Vinaigrette

Marinated Tomato, Cucumber, Onion Salad – Honey and Apple Cider

New Potato Salad – Roasted Sweet Pepper, Celery, and Boiled Eggs

Sorghum and Mustard Baked Beans

Sliced Abundant Acres Watermelon

Scratch-Made Banana Pudding