Harvest Home Dinners: Get Them While They Last

Diane Congello-Brandes and Judith Spector are the co-organizers of The Harvest Home Dinners, a fundraiser to benefit the Saugerties Farmer’s Market. The event returns this year in September. Enjoy a meal with local farm produce prepared by exceptional chefs and home cooks in private homes in Saugerties. (Photo by Lauren Thomas)

The Saugerties Farmers’ Market has been around for 21 years, and for 14 of them, its main annual fundraiser has been the series of Harvest Home Dinners held at private homes in September and October. Tickets are now on sale for the 2022 edition, and 75 of the 90 places are already occupied, according to organizer Diane Congello-Brandes. So you have to go fast.

Originally, 12 dinner meetings were planned for this year. Those not already sold out will take place on September 8 and 30 and at two separate locations on October 1. The September 30 event and one of the October 1 meals will have vegetarian menus (although vegetarians, vegans and people with food allergies can be accommodated at any of the dinners if requested in advance ).

The first iteration of Harvest Home Dinners was inspired by Café Tamayo owners Rickie and James Tamayo’s involvement in the farmers’ market, according to market co-founder Judith Spektor. Non-professional foodies have also volunteered as hosts, but organizers feared attendees might all want to book the celebrity chef nights. So they decided from the start to make them “mystery dinners”. You book by date, and who cooks where when remains a well-kept secret.

In most years the majority of hosts have been amateur chefs – very talented chefs, with beautiful and gracious homes that they are eager to open to groups of eight or ten guests who appreciate the value of the farmers market of Saugerties as a public resource. . But this year, says Spektor, “We have a few new hosts.” Of the total, “Eight are professional chefs. It’s different from previous years.

The price for the evening’s multi-course meal is $65, which usually includes a fancy cocktail, but each attendee is welcome to bring a bottle of wine to share. What makes these feasts magical, besides the talents of the host chefs and the company of interesting people, is the mandate that most of the ingredients come from vendors at the Saugerties Farmer’s Market. “The host pays for all products, mostly purchased at the market,” says Spektor. “We want people to notice how good the food is and then think, ‘You could do this at home.'”

Since the hosts absorb the cost of the ingredients, in addition to volunteering their time, skills, and homes, “All proceeds go to the market.” The funds are needed to pay the salary of the market manager and assistants who help set up and take down the stalls each day. The musicians who perform live at the market each week and artist Anita Barbour, who offers a different arts and crafts project each weekend to keep the kids entertained while their parents shop for fresh produce, cheeses, wine, spirits, must also be paid. prepared foods and condiments from local producers.

“The whole point of this is to allow farmers to continue farming, while providing residents with fresh, local food,” says Spektor. You can shop at the Market, located in the Cahill School parking lot at 115 Main Street, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. every Saturday through October 29, except October 1, when the Garlic Festival is in town. To reserve your seat at one of the remaining Harvest Home dinners, email Diane Congello-Brandes at [email protected]text (845) 706-6715 or fill out the form at https://saugertiesfarmersmarket.com. You will need to send proof of vaccination against COVID-19 with your check.