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“The greatest lesson came with the realization that food cannot be reduced to single ingredients. It requires a web of relationships to support it” ~ Chef Dan Barber

Sultry summer winds carried the enticing aroma of local ingredients cooking over an open fire, while guests who share a mutual appreciation for sustainable food sourced close-by, strolled around the vast property before sitting down to enjoy a much anticipated dinner together. This is the type of event that I daydream about during the brisk Minnesota winters. Last month we attended our first farm dinner of 2021 at Iron Shoe Farm in Princeton. Carla Mertz, owner and operator of the farm is known for raising her animals ethically and for her firm commitment to sustainable agriculture. Her partnerships with nearby farmers and chefs are numerous and highly regarded. These farm dinners are a way to showcase fresh, locally grown ingredients through the creation of innovative and flavor-filled dishes. Carla’s association with local chefs, Minnesota Cooks and the Minnesota Farmers Union are the types of farm to fork relationships that give prominence to the essential nature of our local food community.

Below are some of the photos from the June farm dinner. Each chef took time to explain the lineage and preparation of their dish.

Food cooking over an open flame
Dinner guests exploring the property and preparing for a farm tour led by Carla

The Menu

First Course: Chef Lachelle’s Spiced Greens Sambusas over Wild Vinaigrette Dressed Salad
Second Course: Chef Matthew’s Farmhouse Braised Beef with Polenta, Sorrel and Radish
Dessert: Chef Anne’s Seasonal Berry Rhubarb Slab Pie

The Wine Pairings

The Chefs

Chef Matthew Jensen of LA FERME shown here with Molly Krinhop, our wine pairing expert for the meal
Chef Lachelle Cunningham of Chelles Kitchen shown with Carla Mertz, owner and operator of Iron Shoe Farm
Chef Anne Andrus of Honey and Rye Bakehouse
Katie Cannon, Lisa Patrin and Claudine Arndt

It was fantastic to connect with Katie Cannon and Claudine Arndt of Minnesota Cooks (a Minnesota Farmers Union Program). Dinner guests had the opportunity to peruse and purchase their recently released cookbook.

The Farmer and The Chef Cookbook: Farm Fresh Minnesota Recipes and Stories
Summer Pasta: Recipe is from The Farmer and The Chef Cookbook

I have cooked several dishes from The Farmer and The Chef Cookbook and each one has been lovely. Click here to order a copy for your kitchen. This would also make a great gift for a food loving friend. This is not a sponsored suggestion, I just really love this cookbook and what it represents. The summer pasta dish pictured above is one example of the creativity of the recipes in the book and the brilliant utilization of the bountiful summer yield that Minnesota has to offer. The accompanying stories give elevated meaning to the importance of connecting us with the origin of our ingredients, the stories of the people who grow and produce our food and the chef’s who write the inventive and delicious recipes.

Food stories and meals experienced on a farm are highly significant. They nourish our bodies and minds and raise our recognition of the interconnection that happens when we gather with farmers, chefs and fellow diners who may have been strangers to us when we arrived, but have now become part of a collective culinary sojourn.

Thank you to Carla, Minnesota Cooks and The Minnesota Farmers Union for hosting an unforgettable evening of food & wine, education and conversation.

Keep an eye on your favorite Midwest farmers web pages and social media pages for information on upcoming farm events.

Click here to learn about more of the meaningful Farmer-Restaurant partnerships happening in our state.

“Farm to Table…Ocean to Fork…and Vineyard to Glass.  We cast our votes in favor of the planet one bite, one sip at a time” ~ Lisa Patrin

You can also follow my culinary & travel adventures and my farm to fork sustainability initiatives via my Instagram and Twitter pages.

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