Columbia City Farmers Market Opens Early For Chefs

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Photo by Leslie Kelly
Chef Zephyr getting loaded at the Columbia City Farmers Market.
Yes, practically every dang chef worth his/her fleur de sel talks that farm-to-table talk, but how many of them actually walk the farmers markets walk around the city?

Well, more now since the Columbia City Farmers Market kicked off its season a few weeks ago by offering cooking pros the chance to come and shop an hour before the official opening bell at 3. Yes, they really do ring a bell.

Spotted at last week's chef shopping hour: Skelly and the Bean's Zephyr Paquette, Philippe Thomelin from Olivar, Belle Clementine chef Dave Sanford and Nat Stratton-Clarke from Cafe Flora, who also demo-ed several different dishes featuring rhubarb. Oh, and the bakers from Columbia City Bakery came by and loaded up on those tart stalks that scream spring.

Chef Zephyr's bags were loaded with carrots and radishes and salad greens from Alm Hill. She also stocked up on some dried beans, rhubarb, parsley and pea vines.

"I go every week to the markets in the University District and Columbia city," she said. "It gives me an opportunity to keep things fresher and buy pretty much straight out of the ground. And it gives me the chance to make Wednesday's menu as fun as the Saturday menu that people usually come in and order."

Chris Curtis, director of the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, said the market even offers adjacent parking and the use of hand trucks for those early shoppers.

"We've been told for years that mid-week markets are best for chefs creating seasonal, market menus for the rest of their restaurant week," she said. "Dozens of high profile L.A. chefs shop the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market, which attracts a real who's who in that local food movement."

So, Seattle chefs, make like your savvy colleagues in SEA and your long-distances compatriots in So Cal and hit the pros-in-the-know-go Columbia City Farmers Market!

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