Not much beats a food-themed fundraiser, in my opinion. You get great food, often accompanied by lovely wine, beer and cocktails. And it’s all for a good cause.
Well, fans of such events take note. I’ve got a couple of terrific “foodie” fundraisers to tell you about. Both will be held at the Alexander Majors Barn on the grounds of the Alexander Majors House.
On Sunday, April 23, guests can enjoy a celebration of cooking with herbs featuring Lidia’s newly appointed general manager and former chef de cuisine Cody Hogan. Hogan is also Lidia Bastianich’s traveling assistant and studio food stylist.
Hogan told me he loves cooking with herbs and hopes the guests will too. I asked Hogan where he draws inspiration for events like this.
“My primary culinary inspiration is pretty much always Lidia, my boss and mentor for the last 19 years. She has shared with all of us an enormous number of Italian flavors and aromas. And once you’ve experienced those, they seem to be flavors and combinations that you always want to return to,” Hogan said.
Hogan says he also turns to his own garden to get his creative juices flowing.
“From the moment things begin popping out of the earth, and sometimes the earth might still be partially covered in snow, I begin each day with a stroll around the garden,” Hogan said.
Hogan told me he often returns to the garden after work at night, usually with a flashlight and often with a glass of wine to clear his mind of the worries of the day.
There will be no such worries for his guests, just delicious herb-inspired culinary creations.
“My goal is to spread my enthusiasm for herbal flavors to those who might be otherwise intimidated by them,” Hogan said. Hogan will have tips for guests on how and when to use herbs in cuisine as well as plenty of samples of his tasty dishes.
Tickets are just $25. On Thursday, April 27, a second delicious food-themed event will be held at the Alexander Majors Barn, the Herb Cocktail Party.
This “foodie” bash will feature the culinary offerings or Shannon “Firebug” Kimball and the cocktail creations of Cheryl Bisbee, founder of Boozy Botanicals, a line of locally made, organic and delicious simple syrups.
“I actually got involved with this event when Craig Adcock (of Jude’s Rum Cakes fame) asked me to fill in for him,” Kimball recalled. “I grew up on a farm, so the history of the barn really resonates with me.
“Plus, I love to grill, smoke and give people tasty food, so this event is a perfect fit. The fact that it’s all for a great cause is just icing on the cake!”
For her part, Bisbee will be treating guests to four different cocktails: Lavender Earl Grey Sweet Tea, Rosemary Mint Julep, Three Pepper Sangria, and Heavenly Hibiscus Hops.
“Herb-based cocktails are so enjoyable because they are multi-faceted. They look beautiful when garnished with fresh herbs. They engage your sense of smell as you raise the glass to your mouth. And they engage your taste buds as you sip your drink. You get to enjoy them three ways!” Bisbee exclaimed. “This event underscores how adding fresh herbs to drinks and food dishes brings out so many more flavors and can really enhance the drinking and dining experience.”
All-inclusive tickets to the Herb Cocktail Party are $45, $40 for members. And, if all of this herbaceous celebrating has you inspired, you might want to attend the herb and Wildflower sale on Saturday, April 29, which will be held at the John Wornall House from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Organizers invited the public to buy wildflowers from the Missouri Wildflower Nursery along with locally grown herbs. Proceeds support the Museum’s community education programs.
So, there you have it — two days and three nights of herbs and wildflowers. Yes, Kansas City, Spring has definitely sprung!
Dave Eckert is a partner with Flavor Trade, a Kansas City-based gourmet food incubator and co-packer. Before that, Eckert was the producer and host of “Culinary Travels With Dave Eckert,” which aired on PBS and AWE for 12 seasons.