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We’re Ready to Feast!

Chef Fresh and Alvin Yu

Chef Fresh, PGP’s Resident Chef, and Chef Alvin Yu, owner of Fyusion Dining, are the minds (and hands) behind the menu for HomeGrown–An Underground Harvest Feast.

Only a few tickets remain! Buy your ticket now to join us for our first Underground Harvest Feast on November 10 to celebrate what we’ve grown this year in our gardens and in our community!

This special collaboration dinner between Chef Fresh, PGP’s Resident Chef, and Chef Alvin Yu, PGP board member and owner of Fyusion Dining, will feature four courses highlighting what “homegrown” means to them.

We asked Chef Fresh a few questions about her inspiration for the evening:

Can you tell us a little about your culinary roots?

I’m a southern girl transplant to Chicago. I grew up looking to the older people in my family who always made magic happen in the kitchen. When I was old enough, I was in the kitchen cooking right beside them.

My mom and I would visit the farm trucks every week because we knew who had the best salad greens, Collards, mustards, or turnips. When I would visit my dad, he always had a tomato plant growing and I would grab tomatoes off the vine and eat them like apples–just a little salt and pepper after each bite. I remember loving to visit a certain cousin because they had the best grapevine that I could literally stand under and grab bunches off to eat. My favorite was riding around with my grandfather out to his farm, feeding the hogs, looking at everything growing, and on the drive back stopping by pecan trees to fill up our bags.

How did the idea of “homegrown” or harvest season inspire your menu for this dinner?

This was a great source of inspiration. Most of my fondest food memories from childhood are rooted in farming and preparing things from fresh ingredients. When I sat down and reminisced with Chef Al, we had so much in common and so many memories of dishes that just connected to each other. Every course, every dish for this meal takes me to childhood memories and remind me of home.

Which ingredient or dish are you most excited to share, and is there story behind it?

You’ll see sweet potatoes pop up several places during the dinner. Growing up in North Carolina, one of the things we did was wait for farmers to harvest their sweet potatoes. After they got what they needed, there were still so many left behind in the fields. We were allowed to go through the fields and glean the rest. We’d get tons and tons of sweet potatoes. My mom had crates in the bottom of every dark closets around the house. She would call people up to give some away.

My mom would do three different things with those sweet potatoes that stick with me most. She’d throw one in the oven and roast it whole to get perfect and sweet, then she’d peel it like a banana and eat it right out of the jacket. She’d slice them into rounds and fry them on the stovetop with a little bit of oil. And she’d give me a grater and sweet potatoes and tell me if I was willing to grate them, she’d make sweet potato puddin’—and sweet potato puddin’ was the stuff I had dreams about. Because when you had it, you’d only need a few big spoonfuls, but you didn’t have it often because it required someone to grate several, several, several sweet potatoes.