What’s not to love about all the food you can eat prepared by all the best chefs in Rhode Island? That’s Chefs Collaborative, which takes place on scenic acreage next to a pond with music playing in the background and bonfires to keep everyone warm. At the same time, this national non-profit network raises money to support an all-important mission if you are serious about food: “to inspire, educate, and celebrate chefs and food professionals building a better food system.”
I am an avid amateur food photographer, and Exeter Rhode Island’s Schartner Farm made the perfect backdrop for this at the Chef’s Collaborative. Rhode Island’s best restaurants joined forces to share one or two signature dishes each, using local and seasonal ingredients. I noticed that many chefs utilized squash and sweet potato, as well as arugula and microgreens. Upon arriving at the pond, the smell of smoke from the central campfire hit me first. However, this was quickly replaced by the smells coming from all the different tables set up in a horseshoe around the water. My favorite was easily from The Beehive Café in Bristol, Rhode Island. They made a potato flatbread with pesto, roasted butternut squash, arugula, tomato, and shredded cheddar cheese. While the presentation was appealing and artsy, the flavors outshined it by far. The sweetness of the squash worked perfectly with the slight nuttiness of the pesto, and the acidity of the tomato all on top of a chewy flatbread. I also really enjoyed the pork belly from Persimmon on top of shredded vegetables and drizzled with hot sauce. It was salty, sweet, and tender, in addition to the bite of the pickled carrot and the kick of the sauce. While it’s impossible to say that anything prepared at Chef’s Collaborative was bad, I did not love the chicken and mushroom gravy from one of the restaurants, though the buttered biscuit it came with was delicious. Overall, this bounty festival was a great introduction to the rising food scene in Rhode Island. Sydell Bonin ‘18
The chicken from Persimmon was most excellently accompanied by a surprising choice of chopped white walnuts and purple kale slices. The combination was pleasing to the eye, and the complement of boiled meaty flavor paired with cold fresh nuts and veggies.
The iced brew coffee gave off a bitter elegance that cleansed the saccharine taste off the candy corn macaroon I had just tried. Not a big fan of the latter, by the way. Though lovely in form and shape and certainly worthy of praise in its creativity, I felt incompetent in my ability to handle the overflow of glucose concentrated on one tiny dessert.
The setting for this year’s Chef’s Collaborative really spiced up the experience. Hurrying across the scattered hay on the lawn, my friends and I went from tent to tent, trying out new food. No sunshine and quite windy, but the country rock band blasted music that warmed all our shivering bodies and resonated across the central lake.–Amber Liao ’17
It was a crisp October day, and we all exuded excitement as the bus pulled in to Schartner Farms. And that sense of excitement was well worth it; the many dishes prepared for us by local chefs exceeded my expectations. Though I sampled a variety of dishes, I would have to say a favorite of mine, and of my classmates also, was the butternut flatbread from Beehive Cafe. To quote Hannah Banderob, my friend and fellow culinary enthusiast, I would describe it as “pure, heavenly delight.” Aesthetically, the arugula and squash supplied a pop of color to the flatbread, and the sweetness of the squash complimented the earthy tones of the flatbread nicely. I also particularly enjoyed the fried chicken sandwich. . The chicken’s savory flavor and crispy texture melded with the sweet flavor and crunchiness of a pickle. It was a simple sandwich, but quite delicious. The most interesting food I tried was definitely an oyster, as I had never had one before. In all fairness, it really did taste like the sea. Unfortunately, I’m not overly fond of the taste of the sea. Nevertheless, I have to say the Chef’s Collaborative was an overwhelmingly positive, albeit adventurous, experience.–Johanna Appleton ’17
Chef’s Collaborative Harvest BBQ at Schartner Farms in Exeter has always been one of my favorite events of the year, not only for the incredible variety of delicacies, but also for the precious memories. With noise-making stomachs, we Culinary Arts members sprinted toward the food stations with shouts and screaming. Out of the eleven delicacies I tried at the event, the Butternut Flatbread from the Beehive Café has to be my favorite. A beige color potato flatbread lies at the bottom with roasted butternut squash delicately arranged in the middle and arugula, tomato, cheddar, and pesto sporadically decorated on the top. Its aesthetic form first attracted my attention while its taste conquered my senses. The warmth and softness of the flatbread accompanied the mushy texture of squash while the sweetness from the bread and squash mixed with the sourness of the tomato. To be honest, I almost cried when I finished the flatbread because of how good it was.
Moments of happiness always fly by so fast. After we filled our stomachs with all kinds of cuisines, the food fairy tale soon came to an end. Recollecting the last Chef’s Collaborative with my best friends Lucy and Cassie who had already graduated, I realized that this was my last Chef’s Collaborative with Culinary Arts Club. However, I soon chose not to think about it but instead immersed myself in the blissful moment. Life goes on without a pause, and it will only become better, just like Chef’s Collaborative does every year. Kevin Jiang ‘17
The Culinary Arts Club attended an event called the “Chef’s Collaborative” which took place at a farm in Exeter, RI. The beautiful venue overlooked a pond (that I am totally convinced is manmade) and had well over a dozen relatively local vendors all offering samples of their food. Most of the food followed a fall theme, incorporating ingredients like butternut squash and pumpkin, but all was just plain delicious. We stayed at the event for about two hours, enough time to try all the food and drink you could possibly fit in your stomach. The food vendors were very passionate and informed about the food they were preparing or where it comes from, and all provided a nice description of their food.
I entered through the main entrance and chronologically made my way through trying almost all the foods from all the vendors as they wrapped around the pond. Ranking my favorite dishes was the sweet potato flatbread, which was a flatbread with a sweet potato puree, arugula, tomato and pesto, and the fried chicken sandwich from “Winner Winner.” It was certainly a pleasant surprise to see “Winner Winner” there; it is a new restaurant that just opened up close to my house, as a result of their burger restaurant being so popular. I had two cups of iced coffee, (which were honestly one of the best in my life): one was black and nitrogen infused while the other was creamier, sweeter, and had fall flavors incorporated into it. I got to have four raw oysters, which were absolutely delicious too!
The Chef’s Collaborative is an excellent event that I would highly recommend to anyone and certainly look forward to attending again in the future. Matias Wawro ‘18
This year’s Chef Collaborative enticed and entertained its guests at the picturesque Schartner Farms pond. As we got off the bus, I remember smelling some type of fish cooking, and wondering where the event actually was. After we passed through the row of pines, the event was upon us.
The music, scenery, talk, smell, and tastes combined for a lively atmosphere. The live music from bands Smith & Weeden and Little Compton relaxed the crowd, breaking down any stresses from the week. Turning leaves across the pond and warm bonfires allowed the crowd to distress and take in the experience. And what is the experience without the food? Restaurants from all over Rhode Island sent chefs and their staffs to prepare showcases of their restaurants. The Beehive’s butternut squash flatbread was a new taste for me, and one I thoroughly enjoyed. Another favorite was Eli’s Kitchen’s fried shrimp po’boy finished with a generous serving of hot sauce, which I got two of. Winner Winner’s fried chicken sandwich consisted of crispy, juicy chicken and strong pickles. My favorite course was the BBQ pork, beans, and brussel sprouts. The charred outside of the pork gave way to tender meat.
For side dishes, flame toasted sourdough and scup was a delicious mess. Thick butternut squash soup with ground nuts in top fitted the fall feel. A dessert consisting of candy corn macaroon, a rich brownie, and a pumpkin snickerdoodle capped off the meal, and we retreated to the edge of the pond to digest and talk. Arthur Shipman ‘18
It is not surprising that Chef’s Collaborative is probably the most anticipated Culinary Arts event of the year with its endless supply of gourmet food and perfect autumn scenery. This year’s event featured lots of butternut squash in many different forms and fresh, local ingredients. The Butternut Flatbread from The Beehive Café was definitely the most loved and talked about item throughout the entire event. The freshly grilled potato flatbread was a warm base for butternut squash, basil pesto, arugula, and a hint of white cheddar cheese. The squash gave a deep earthy, autumnal flavor, which melded nicely with the pesto. All the flavors balanced perfectly so that no flavors overwhelmed the others. Ellie’s Bakery provided some of the most unique desserts with its Candy Corn Macarons, and Grape and Butternut Squash Hand Pies with Walnuts. The Macarons imitated both the flavor and tri-color pattern of candy corn with an impressive degree of accuracy. Hand Pies have become an increasingly popular in the last few years, and personally, I appreciate their convenient size and the creativity that is embraced in fillings and toppings. The flaky, buttery crust was stuffed with an orangey, pleasantly sweet, squash filling, which was elevated to a dessert by the sweetened concord grape jelly squiggled on top. The chopped walnuts sprinkled on top added a dimension of crunch and a nutty flavor, which added to the taste of autumn.
Overall, I discovered that butternut squash can be quite enjoyable, and that nothing will ever compare to Chef’s Collaborative. Hannah Banderob ‘17
At the Chef’s Collaborative, I was able to taste a wide variety of delicious local cuisine. Among the highlights was my first time trying a raw oyster. I found the oyster to have quite an acquired taste, however, I enjoyed the opportunity to try it nonetheless. The naan and squash salad was a wonderful combination of Eastern and Western cuisine in one meal. I also enjoyed Winner Winner’s chicken sandwich. While the concept was quite simple, the execution was incredible, and it was crispy and juicy at the same time. The brisket was succulent and delicious and the acidity of the sauce complemented it and the baked beans very well. Oliver Ferry ‘17
As I walked through the gate of trees, I could feel the new world inside the forest of beautiful scenery and delicious aromas. The first thing I tried was a lime soda in a slender bottle. It was great to start with a drink, and then I began to look around for various foods. The dish that attracted me the most was the soup with potato, bread and beef. Even though it seemed like a common dish, it was a great for the cold weather and slight breeze. The soup warmed up my body and the soft bread was well mixed with the dish as a whole. Another favorite dish was the flatbread from the Beehive’s restaurant. It had different kinds of vegetables, meats and sauces on it, but the flat bread was so delicious that I wanted to get another piece of the bread. Chef’s Collaborative was the best combination of friends, dishes, and nature all together. Because this event was held outdoors, it was unique and enjoyable when we all sat together to enjoy various foods.–Jennifer Park ’17