Claire Robinson and Johnny Iuzzini at the 10th annual Veggie U Food & Wine Celebration.
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Celebrating a Milestone

Jody Eddy / September 2012

Milan, Ohio—The 10th annual Veggie U Food & Wine Celebration took place under massive white and blue tents staked beneath the Ohio sun at The Culinary Vegetable Institute in July. Veggie U was founded in 2003 by farmer Bob Jones to educate children about how plants grow and foster in them an abiding respect for vegetables and farming. The program is currently underway in 2,600 classrooms around the country. Over 80,000 children have graduated from the program since its inception. At last week’s festivities—which included Farmer Lee Jones in his signature blue overalls and red bow tie—there was no shortage of chefs from around the country to support the cause.

Headliners this year included Jonathon Sawyer, Claire Robinson, Lee Anne Wong, Amanda Freitag, Greg Grossman, and Johnny Iuzzini. Like so many farms in America this summer, The Chef’s Garden is currently suffering through a drought, resulting in a crop shortage. But this didn’t stop participating chefs from conjuring intriguing recipes to enthrall the crowd of more than 1,000 attendees. The judges at this year’s Steelite-sponsored cooking competition had the daunting task of selecting the festival’s standout dish. The victor was Patrick Fahy of Chicago’s Sixteen, who presented an extraordinary dessert comprised of a tropical verrine garnished with borage blooms, citrus coriander blooms, and flower blossoms freshly plucked from the farm’s gardens. As his reward, Fahy won a trip to Valladolid, Spain, to be a judge at the International Tapas Competition this coming November.

Learn more about citrus coriander blooms in Farmer Lee's post in The Pros section.