Houston’s own Chef Rey was among the slate of top chefs at the recent “A Community Cooks” event, an annual fundraiser benefiting “The We Over Me Farm,” an organic farm run by students of Paul Quinn College, dedicated to improving the well-being of Dallas-area communities.
Billed as the “fresh-farm dining experience like no other,” the event brought together the talents of Chef Rey along with a host of chefs from the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex area.
In its third year, “The We Over Me Farm” has thrived in its efforts to transform the health and well-being of under-resourced communities in the Southern sector of Dallas by providing fresh, healthy, affordable food options and by educating and empowering future generations to take better care of themselves, their environments, and their communities.
“Paul Quinn College is proud to support the We Over Me Farm and its mission of serving the South Dallas community. We consider the community around our University family, and support individuals, organizations and efforts that do the same,” said Ashley Daly of the Paul Quinn College Communications Department.
A decision by the college’s president, Michael Sorrell, to convert the football field to a life-sustaining farm in March 2010 to help under-resourced populations in the area, set the wheels in motion that would bring this annual event to life for the community.
Located in a federally-recognized food desert, the student-run farm has provided more than 20,000 pounds of organic produce since its inception, and no less than 10 percent of this produce has been donated to neighborhood charitable organizations. The rest supports community members, the College, and restaurants and grocers throughout Dallas, according to the college’s website.
“My favorite part of the evening was introducing the farm to people who hadn’t experienced it before. It’s truly an inspiring visual to see a two-acre, fully operational farm run on our campus where students play such a big role in its success,” said Daly.
Chef Rey joined the effort through a consumer education alliance with McDonald’s, one of the event’s sponsors.
“We have always been in attendance since the event started and this year decided to step up as a sponsor. It was a great opportunity to showcase our food in a different way,” said RoShanda Hawthorne, communications manager of the west division of Houston-based Moroch Agency.
The talented chef transformed a selection of staple products from McDonald’s into an array of gourmet food items, including grilled chicken breast, warm spinach salad and a savory potato truffle made from McDonald’s fries.
This unique dining event included delicious culinary selections prepared by a number of other participating chefs, including, Chad Houser, Cafe Momentum; Oraziu La Manna, Legends Hospitality; Mark Wootton, Garden Cafe; Eric Shelton, Kitchen LTO; David Anthony Temple, Chef DATTim Bevins, The Front Room; Sharon Van Meter, 3015 at Trinity Groves; Patrick Stark, Sundown at Granada; Keith Hicks, Buttons, and Tonne Khabir of Classic Cup Cafe.
The Houston Astros executive chef proved a crowd favorite as lines wrapped around the field to his cooking booth garnering him a top score of 96.5 of the chefs that took part in the fundraising benefit.
“I looked back and saw the line was somewhat wrapped around the field and thought is that my line or people waiting in the other line, and someone said, no that is your line,” shared Chef Rey of the experience.
Chef Rey will join forces with McDonald’s for other educational culinary experiences in June and August leading up to yet another in a series of McDonald’s “Iron Chef” style competitions. The next competition, titled the “Chef Experience Houston,” is being held on September 26, 2014.
The event will showcase the culinary skills of five area celebrity chefs judged by five highly acclaimed celebrities. Proceeds from the event will go towards supporting the Ronald McDonald’s House Charities of Greater Houston/Galveston.