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Rediscovering Our Regional Food

Food for Thought Festival 2007
What do Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz and speedskating champion Apolo Anton Ohno have in common?

Well, both are stars in their respective spheres of influence—Madison politics and Olympic sports. And, like Ohno, Mayor Dave will soon be teaming up with a professional to compete valiantly against other teams in a field where he is an amateur. Instead of dancing, though, Mayor Dave will be cooking with fresh, local ingredients.

Cooking with the Stars
It’s all part of the first Cooking with the Stars competition at this year’s Food for Thought Festival. Along with Mayor Dave, Alice in Dairyland Jill Makovec, Jean Feraca of National Public Radio’s “Here on Earth,” and other local stars will pair up with some of Madison’s best chefs. The teams will have a limited time to buy fresh ingredients from the Dane County Farmers’ Market and then cook the most delicious meal with their ingredients. The battle begins at 11:00am on Saturday, September 15th, off the Capitol Square on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.

Cooking with the Stars is just one part of the ninth annual Food for Thought Festival, which is organized by REAP Food Group. The festival is a fun, festive way for the community to celebrate and learn more about eating pleasurably, healthfully, and sustainably.

Keynote speaker
The festival’s keynote speaker is Dan Barber, award-winning chef at Blue Hill restaurant in New York City and creative director of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture. Through his work at the center and his writing and appearances, Barber works to raise awareness about the effects of everyday food choices and other local food system issues.
Barber will speak and conduct a cooking demonstration at the festival at 10:00am and also at the Food for Thought Forum on Friday night, September 14th. The forum, which will be held on the UW Madison campus, will also feature Chef Leah Caplan of The Washington Island Hotel, Restaurant, and Culinary School in Door County, and local farmer Scott Williams, of Garden to Be Farm in Mt. Horeb.

“We’re excited to have such distinguished guests for the festival,” said Miriam Grunes, REAP’s executive director and festival coordinator. “Both Dan and Leah have hands-on experience in making the vision of vital, sustainable, local food systems a reality. I think we can learn a lot from them about continuing to revitalize agriculture and food in southern Wisconsin.”

Exhibits, demonstrations, samples and more
In addition to Cooking with the Stars and the guest speakers, more than 60 organizations and businesses will exhibit at the festival with demonstrations, education, and local foods to sample and buy. The winners of the 2007 Food for Thought recipe contest will also be recognized at the festival. Children will also have a chance to laugh and learn in the Kids’ Tent with face painting, crafts, chickens, and other activities.

This year’s Food for Thought raffle features a grand prize of a sensational Sub-Zero wine storage refrigeration unit and other prizes including products and gift certificates from farms, restaurants and other businesses.

Local Night Out
And the fun doesn’t end on the 15th... REAP’s celebration of delicious local food will continue on Thursday, September 27th, with the third annual Local Night Out. On that night, participating restaurants will feature delicious offerings made from the freshest local farm products available. As Partners in REAP’s new Buy Fresh Buy Local program, this year’s Local Night Out restaurants are committed to ongoing relationships with local growers and increasing their use of local ingredients throughout the year. For more information about participating restaurants and the Buy Fresh, Buy Local program, visit http://www.reapfoodgroup.org/BFBL/.

This year’s sponsors
REAP is grateful to all the sponsors of this year’s Food for Thought Festival—but especially, of course, to Willy Street Co-op, one of Food for Thought’s Premier Sponsors this year! For a complete schedule and additional information about the Food for Thought Festival, visit http://www.reapfoodgroup.org/FFTF2007/index.htm or call 608-294-1114.