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Westport "Forks it Over" at Farmers' Market Gala

It was a night to remember. A kind of Cinderella story, if Cinderella were a self-proclaimed foodie with a penchant for eating local. And the event—a fundraiser for the Westport Farmers’ Market , called “Fork it Over," on Jan. 28—was as glamorous as any fairy tale ball could be, if you can appreciate the glamour of the “jeans and Wellies” dress code outlined on the invitation.

The venue, Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens , was transformed from a greenhouse herb garden into an elegant tasting room,  dressed courtesy of Lillian August and staffed by some of the area’s best chefs creating locally sourced dishes. More than 200 guests attended, including former Westport resident and foodie fairy godmother, Martha Stewart .

“The community support for this event has been incredible,” said Lori Cochran-Dougall, Market Director. “And tonight is really a testament to how hard we are all working to make things happen.”

Guests noshed on dishes prepared by local culinary royalty, namely: Michel Nischan ( Dressing Room ), Bill Taibe ( leFarm and The Whelk ), Tim LaBant ( The Schoolhouse at Cannondale ), Matt Storch ( Match ) and confections by John Barricelli ( The SoNo Baking Company & Café ). Fountainhead Wines & Distillations was pouring French and Californian wines carefully selected for the event.

Happily for those who came hungry, each chef used his considerable talents to create unique and inspired dishes that were all locally sourced, like Chef Storch’s veggie banh mai, a Thai-inspired bite-sized burst of cilantro, carrot, cucumber hoisin and rice noodles topped with spicy aioli. Chef Storch sourced the ingredients for his entire menu from Greyledge Farm , Wave Hill Breads , Two Guys from Woodbridge , Beltane Farm and Fort Hill Farm . Other highlights included bacon lollipops by Chef LaBant, Greyledge beef chili by Chef Taibe and a crispy pork belly dish with soft poached egg and sunchoke mustard by Chef Nischan.

Then, it was time for dessert.

“I tried really hard to use what was available at the market,” explained Chef Barricelli of his after dinner menu. “I used apples from Silvermine Farm for the apple pizza,” which he served with a caramel whipped cream and chards of caramel glass. Chef Barricelli’s tiramisu was another decadent treat, as was his beet and carrot cake with creamy goat cheese frosting.

Amidst all the tasting and sampling and “oohing” and “ahhing,” Rebecca Howe, Board Chairman of the market, offered a quiet reminder of why the event was happening in the first place. “There is so much we do and much more that we want to do in this community, from outreach and education to helping get good food to people who need it.” The latter is a nod to the market’s work with the Gillespie Center and the culinary arts program at Staples High School , which brings students together to prepare and serve meals to Gillespie Center participants. “More than anything, I just want people to be reminded of how important it is that we take back control of our food.”

With a night as successful as this, it’s fair to say the market has already changed the way residents shop for, prepare and eat their food. And now, they’re changing the way we think about it as well.

How's that for a happy ending?

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