Popular Bounty of the County event returns with bigger venue, different format | TheUnion.com

Popular Bounty of the County event returns with bigger venue, different format

Lorraine Jewett
Special to The Union

If you must have a problem, this is a great problem to have.

Bounty of the County, Nevada County's premier farm-to-table event, has become very popular and too crowded.

The annual food festival celebrating local farmers and ranchers, and the bounty they provide, has outgrown its previous venue. This year's event will be held at the spacious Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building. The date (Thursday) for the sixth annual event is also new.

"We have a new venue, more restaurants, more farms and a new date," said Kwong Chew, board president of Nevada County Grown, the nonprofit that organizes Bounty of the County. "The demand is obvious in that we've grown so much the past five years. We used to have to cap the number of restaurants and chefs that participated. This year we have 12 chefs plus one more serving specialty teas, desserts and drinks. Also, the farmers asked to hold the event earlier in the year to coincide with the height of the growing season."

In early August, restaurants are supplied with a list of produce and protein that is expected to be available just before Bounty of the County. Chefs review the list and plan their signature dishes.

"The produce and meat are available up to three days before the event, but most is picked up the day of Bounty of the County," said Chew. "It's as fresh as it can be."

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In previous years, ticket sales were limited to the first 200 purchased for the always-sold-out event. This year, organizers say they can accommodate up to 500. Each guest receives eight tastings per ticket, and additional tastings may be purchased. Sample menus range from pulled pork with carrot-radish cilantro to tomatoes and mixed summer herb polenta squares.

"Bounty of the County is a great local event showcasing the passion, hard work and dedication of all our local farmers and chefs," said Ellen Cole, whose Cosmic Roots Ranch in Grass Valley helps supply participating chefs with both volume and variety. "It is wonderful that the event has expanded to a larger location. It proves our community's desire to keep this annual tradition going bigger and stronger."

Craft beer from two breweries is another new addition. Wine tastings will no longer be offered as samples, but available for sale by the glass from four local wineries. There will be no silent auction, vendors, or Best Chef Competition this year, because Project Coordinator Jamie O'Donnell said the focus is on the participating 24 farms and 13 restaurants.

"The real fun and excitement in this type of food festival is connecting the farmers who are passionate about their unique produce offerings with creative chefs, and seeing how the tastings come together," explained O'Donnell. "We have a great mix of new places that just opened or are about to open, as well as established stalwarts. It's a great mix. They're going all-out to do some tasty and imaginative things."

"How else better for attendees to experience what these newcomers have to offer?" said Chew. "This is not fast food or casual dining. That's why this year's theme is 'Culinary Revival.' Attendees will taste, savor and evoke memories of old recipes that have been revived, or create memories and images of new recipes."

Drew Speroni, owner of Early Bird Farm in Nevada City, who has long donated produce to Bounty of the County, said "local" is the key word.

"It's a great way for local farms to get exposure and for the local supermarkets and bakeries to buy local products," said Speroni. "Of every $100 spent locally, 40 to 50 percent stays in the county. When the money stays here, it benefits our county and organizations such as our nonprofits. Too often money goes to big agribusinesses, and the money ends up with the CEOs at the top of the food chain instead of our small businesses.

"Local produce is more sustainable. We use less energy to produce it, and it's improving the lives of people who live here."

Participating restaurants include: BriarPatch Food Co-op, Diego's, Durga's Divine Café, Emily's Catering and Cakes, Heartwood Eatery, Lake Wildwood's Oak Clubhouse, Meze Eatery, The Stone House, Summer Thyme's Bakery & Deli, Thirsty Barrel Taphouse & Grille, Three Forks Bakery & Brewing Company, Wild Eye Pub, and Brew Bakers Café.

Nevada County Grown has evolved along the same trajectory as its signature event, Bounty of the County, has flourished.

"We used to concentrate on farms and consumers, but we've realized that is a fraction of what it's all about," said Chew. "The farmscape includes farms, consumers, retailers, markets, restaurants and anything in the ecosystem that promotes local farming. It's also agritourism. All these factors reinforce each other.

"Bounty of the County guests go back and patronize the restaurants they tasted. They inspire those restaurants and market retailers to purchase more local produce. Farmers get more business and plant more, and consumers benefit by the availability of more fresh local produce. Everybody wins."

Lorraine Jewett is a freelance writer who lives in Nevada County. She can be reached at LorraineJewettWrites@gmail.com.

KNOW & GO

What: Sixth Annual Bounty of the County: A Culinary Revival

When: 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday

Where: Grass Valley Veterans Memorial Building, 255 S. Auburn Street

Tickets: $25 in advance or at the door

Info: NevadaCountyGrown.org or Eventbrite.com