100 Mile Feast - Laguna Beach

A few weeks ago, as one of those happy serendipitous moments, I met one of the co-founders of SEEDS Art and Education, Inc. at a coffee shop. She was working on the finals of their second annual “100 Mile Feast.” As I shamelessly eavesdropped, I heard her dropping one favorite Laguna chef’s name after another. I simply had to investigate (for the edification of you, my reader, of course!).

After learning about the 100-Mile Feast event, dropping last-minute notifications in my Facebook page and, then, actually attending the dinner this last Saturday, I’d say this “100 Mile Feast” is a goldmine of a find.

With the intent to fund enrichment programs for children in need through arts, wellness and environmental stewardship, SEEDS came up with this awesome “100 Mile Feast” idea last year. With just 50 lucky diners checking in, the Feast asks seven of Laguna Beach’s “sustainability-conscious” chefs to each create one menu item that is completely sourced within 100 miles of Laguna Beach.

For these chefs, creating a single menu item that consists of 30 or more ingredients is an everyday occurrence. But, even as these seven are most noted for their organic sourcing, it’s not always easy to find a few of those menu items within 100 miles.

What they came up with, though, on Saturday, was pretty darned mind blowing.

Six Out-of-This-World Courses

Chef Jessica McLeish and Jonathan Pflueger of Sourced Cuisine started the challenge with a fantastic Zucchini “Sushi” Roll. Chef Carli Sevedra of Seed & Soil created an incredible Roasted Butternut Squash dish, followed by Nirvana Grille’s Chef Lindsay Smith-Rosales’ decadent-as-butter Roasted Kobacha Soup.

Then, it was a Roasted Carrot & Dandelion Greens Salad from 370 Common’s Chef Ryan Adams (his walnuts probably traveled the farthest distance for the evening as they were sourced from his brother’s backyard in Palo Alto). Chef Camron Woods of The Ranch found a way to prepare a 90-pound pig 50 different ways for each of the guests – some received a pork tenderloin dish, while others received variations of pork sausage or pork chops.

For the finale, Golden Foodie Dessert Award Winner Chef Debra Sims of Maro Wood Grill created a 100-Mile Pumpkin Fennel Bread Pudding. It was simply amazing.

100 Mile Feast - Chefs plating Debi Sims' dessert

Even more appealing than the 6-course dinner or the charming tables in the schoolyard gardens was observing the chefs pitch in for each other during their plating preparation. When chefs take personal interest in each other’s “sustainable search” stories and gather, shoulder to shoulder, to create a buddy system of plating support, it speaks volumes to the real community that sustainable, organic innovation engenders.

The 100-Mile Feast was, by far, one of the best dining events (let alone fundraising events) I’ve attended this year. Hats off to SEEDS for such a creative idea, and I can only hope this will become more than a once-a-year event!

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