Home-grown: UMC dinner features locally grown food
CROOKSTON, Minn. — Food brings people together. It allows people to share not just a meal, but maybe a conversation or a laugh, too.
For students, faculty, staff and community members in Crookston, a special meal allowed people to come together to celebrate northern Minnesota and the University of Minnesota Crookston on Friday night.
The event, Farm to Table, featured food that was grown locally and on campus by UMC students. Locally raised beef was a fixture of the menu, in addition to many other local items.
UMC Chancellor Mary Holz-Clause said the event highlights their horticulture and animal science majors, as well as all of the great work the students do at UMC.
"This is a very experiential, kind of hands-on university, so this event is focusing on celebrating the great (things) the students do," she said.
The idea from the event came from a University of Minnesota-Twin Cities alum, Duane Hoff. Duane, along with his wife Susan, own Fantesca Estate & Winery, a wine company in California. Duane is the son of longtime Crookston residents and UMC faculty Dave and Irene Hoff.
Local spirits and craft beer sampling from Revelation Ale Works and Far North Spirits, both of Hallock, Minn., were also a part of the meal.
The chefs who helped prepare the meals are also from the Midwest, Holz-Clause said.
Nearly every part of the event was student-led, including the music, decorations and more.
"This is just another example of trying to celebrate our students and to bring maybe some new people here who haven't been apart of UMC in the past," she said.
Caleb Timp, executive chef at Luther College, helped write the menu and prepare the dishes for Friday night's dinner. The dinner consisted of an appetizer featuring Minnesota "Ceviche," which included locally grown vegetables and pan-seared walleye that was also caught locally.
Timp spent months planning the menu, keeping in mind what's in season and what other items would be available for him to consider.
"I've been looking forward to it for months now," Timp said.
Also on the menu was buttermilk brined turkey breast, with turkey donated from UMC alum Carl Wittenburg, and a classic beef bourguignon stew. Wittenburg is one of the top turkey producers in the nation and has led the National Turkey Federation as its chairman.
"(Food) is a natural way to bring people together," Wittenburg said.
Amber Johnson, a senior majoring in agriculture communications, presented her "student-story" during the dinner, which gave her a chance to reflect on her time at the school and what made her decide to come to UMC.
"I think it's definitely a very good idea just as a way to showcase the campus itself, and also the students," Johnson said.