Adriana Simpson, chef de cuisine for Virginia Tech's Dietrick Dining Center, will be the first to participate in the Chef at the Market pilot program at the Blacksburg Farmer's Market on Saturday, June 2. She will demonstrate various techniques for cooking with fresh ingredients grown by local farmers and offer samples from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Simpson will prepare a fresh salad using the local seasonal ingredients available at the farmer's market. She plans to incorporate traditional items as well as more creative and adventurous selections, such as edible flowers. The goal is to showcase techniques and ingredients that can be incorporated into regular home cooking, and to encourage the purchase of locally grown produce and other food items.
"The closer you are to your food, the more flavor and nutrition your food will have," said Simpson. "The produce you buy in the big chain stores has been standardized to the point that we are in danger of losing many varieties of produce. Local farmers tend to use organic growing practices and seeds that have been passed down from generation to generation. These heirloom varieties are so flavorful and visually appealing that, as a chef, I would be very sad to lose them."
"A chef at the farmers market is a great way to educate consumers about how to use the local produce available to them. Our farmers raise excellent fruits, veggies, meats, and eggs, as well as produce some terrific value-added products such as jams, jellies, baked goods and cheeses," said Market Director Jenny Schwanke. "I'd love to see the Chef at the Market program develop into something where the local restaurant chefs would all be clamoring to demonstrate their talents with the freshest ingredients they can get their hands on."
Simpson received a bachelor's degree in culinary arts in 2002 from Johnson and Wales University. In 2004, Simpson helped open The Rockfish restaurant in Annapolis, Md., where she also worked as a sous chef, designing and influencing menus. The restaurant earned rave reviews in several periodicals including the Baltimore Sun and the Washington Post.
Simpson joined Virginia Tech's national award-winning dining program in January, 2006 as Shultz Dining Center's chef de cuisine, and served as lead chef there for Captain Growley's Pirate Adventure in September, 2006. That meal recently won a gold medal in the National Association of College and University Food Services Loyal E. Horton Award Competition. For more information on the dining program at Virginia Tech, visit www.studentprograms.vt.edu/dining.
The Blacksburg Farmer's Market is located on the corner of Roanoke Street and Draper Road in downtown Blacksburg. It is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays. For more information visit the Blacksburg Farmer's Market website.