We're pretty used to seeing the occasional star chef drop in at the Crescent City Farmers Market, but things were really abuzz Saturday, April 19, when Rick Bayless paid us a visit. Bayless, the Chicago restaurateur, author and television cooking show host, was in town with the International Association of Culinary Professionals and took time out to browse the Market and meet with staff and vendors. A board member of the Chicago Green City Market, Bayless asked questions about our wooden token currency system and shared information about foraging and other aspects of market management.
And then he saw Heather Robertson's ripe Ponchatoula strawberries. Heather, of Johndale Farm, was too busy to be star-struck, but remembers someone being concerned about getting a couple of flats home on a plane. "I hope they made it," she says.
They did, but the aroma of those sweet berries wafting out of the overhead bin caused quite a stir on the flight, says Bayless' assistant Andrew McCaughan. "They were so ripe and fragrant, everybody was eyeing them," he reports. "But we made it back to Chicago with the strawberries, and we really did enjoy them. I took a pint home and devoured them Sunday morning. They were really delicious, and I know Rick enjoyed them as well. I think he made waffles with them."
Heather says she hopes to have berries at the Market for a few more weeks. "We're going to try to stick it out until Mothers Day, but the season is ending earlier than ever this year," she says. We're sorry to see them go, but glad to find out that they can get through airport security. And a big thanks to Rick Bayless for helping us spread the word about great family-farmed Louisiana produce!
Market Umbrella is an independent nonprofit 501(c)(3), based in New Orleans, whose mission is to cultivate the field of public markets for public good. Market Umbrella has operated the Crescent City Farmers Markets (CCFM) since 1995.
The Crescent City Farmers Market operates weekly year-round in four New Orleans neighborhoods. The CCFM hosts nearly 80 local small farmers, fishers and food producers, and more than 100,000 shoppers annually.