Columbia Farmers Market

Chefs in the "What's Cooking?" series will highlight local produce in their cooking demonstrations.

Something new is cooking at the Columbia Farmers Market.

This season, the Columbia Farmers Market will debut "What’s Cooking?," a cooking demonstration series featuring local chefs and area bounty. From March to October, prominent Columbia chefs will turn market produce into delicious seasonal meals to showcase the local variety and what can be created with it.

“We slowly started building these relationships with chefs through the Farm-to-Table dinner and other outlets,” Columbia Farmers Market executive director Corrina Smith says. “We wanted to highlight what they're creating and what they're cooking with our vendors’ products.”

The first demonstration will be led by Mark Sulltrop of 44 Canteen and 44 Stone Public House on March 30. Ben Hamrah of the pop-up Beet Box will lead the April demo. Throughout the season the series will feature Lindsay Spratt of Boss Taco; Kimber Dean of Nourish Café + Market; Amanda Elliott from Rustic Supper and Peachtree Catering (who's also a Feast columnist); Anna Meyer of Range Free; Devin Angsten of Country Club of Missouri; and Frances Harvey and Tim Eisenhauer of the Fujiko Izakaya pop up.

A few weeks ahead of the monthly demonstration date, each chef peruses the market to talk to vendors and glean what products are available and in season. Based on the findings, the local talent develops a recipe for the demonstration, which occurs the last Saturday of each month. For the demonstration, vendors donate the produce used.

Earlier in March, Sulltrop visited the market and decided to make a fresh vegetable risotto for his dish. The risotto will feature winter squash and spinach from Jim Thies at The Veggie Patch; microgreens from Clay Stem at Stem to Table; oyster mushrooms from Allen Judy at Heirloom Fungi; and quark from Hemme Brothers Creamery.

Smith hopes that "What’s Cooking?" attendees will see market products they’ve never cooked with before and get new ideas on how they can use them and support local farmers. “Ultimately, we're wanting to expose customers to new, different foods and have them step out of their comfort zones, buy those products and cook them themselves,” she says.

Over the past few years, the farmers' market hosted a handful of chef demonstrations here and there. With the Agriculture Park launching later in April, the market is excited take its offerings to the next level and provide consistent programming, workshops and activities.

“We’re hoping that in future years we will be able to offer this more,” Smith says. “The next phase for the Agriculture Park is building a kitchen on site.”

Later this spring, the Columbia Farmers Market will debut the first phase of its Agricultural Park, featuring 40 covered vendor stalls, a pedestrian plaza, a playground, and a barn and greenhouse for Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture.

Smith is particularly excited about the variety of vendors the market will feature this year. Items new to the market in 2019 include Sugarwitch Ice Cream Sandwiches made with local ingredients; lavender products from Battlefield Lavender; uncommon mushroom varieties grown by Heirloom Fungi; and handcrafted elderberry tonics from ElderBlossom View. The 2019 market is accepting vendor applications through the end of March.

Along with exciting new vendors and the introduction of the "What’s Cooking?" series, this season’s market will feature weekly gardening workshops from the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture and kids activities.

Although most locals know to catch the Columbia Farmers Market on Saturday mornings, this year the market is working to build up its weekday market offerings. In addition to Saturdays, the market will be open on Tuesdays from 10am to 1pm and Thursdays from 3 to 6pm. Smith says the Tuesday market will feature prepared food, which makes it the perfect spot to grab a fresh bite to eat during the lunch hour.

Columbia Farmers Market, 1701 West Ash St., Columbia, Missouri, 573.823.6889, columbiafarmersmarket.org

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