On October 3 more than 300 farmers, chefs, plant breeders and curious eaters came together for the 3rd Annual Culinary Breeding Network Variety Showcase. It was a truly unique and incredible gathering of people, knowledge, delicious food and ingredients, all in the name of breeding organic vegetables for culinary excellence. This photo round up is only a small fraction of information and beauty of this event! Thank you to Lane Selman for organizing the Showcase and educating us and to Shawn Linehan for capturing all of the vibrancy on camera.
All photos by the Culinary Breeding Network and Shawn Linehan.
Showcased breeding work included ‘Karma’, STRKR, BUCK, OSU Malt #1, Black Beaut, and Meints breeding selection 3-32-OCOLOR
Breeders: Pat Hayes, Oregon State University and Brigid Meints, Washington State University
Chef: Gabe Rosen, Biwa and Noraneko featuring several barleys used in Mugi-Cha (roasted barley tea)
Chef: Dillon Debauche, Little T Baker featuring several Country Loaves with 45% barley
Chef: Stacy Givens, The Side Yard Farm & Kitchen featuring Barley Agnolettti, Borage Greens, Farmy Ricotta, Marigolds & Lovage, Barley Crunchies Research
Chef: Andrew Ross, Oregon State University featuring Barley Malt Shortbread
The “Squash Party” crew at the Variety Showcase posing with the 10 hull-less squash varieties and landraces Oregon State University Vegetable Specialist Alex Stone is investigating for field performance on organic farms and flavor of roasted seeds as well as oil.
Colin Curwen-McAdams is a Seed Matters Fellow working on a PhD with Dr. Stephen Jones in The Bread Lab at Washington State University in Mount Vernon, WA. His work is focused around re-imagining and differentiating wheat to support a regional grain economy and diverse agricultural systems in the coastal Northwest. He is breeding a perennial grain crop based on wheat as a dual use grain and forage crop that can remain in for multiple seasons, adding organic matter, reducing tillage and offering options for animal integrated systems. He is also breeding blue and purple spring wheat varieties specifically for whole wheat sourdough baking. The colors do not fit into established classifications and offer an opportunity to develop regional sales outside of the commodity markets. The breeding work is tied together by an investigation of how intellectual property restrictions might impact regional breeding efforts, with an appreciation of the cultural and nutritional importance of whole grains for communities.
Baker Mel Darbyshire of Grand Central Baking in Seattle, WA created a focaccia with the purple wheat and two types of shortbread using Blue Wheat and Red Wheat, ‘Skagit 1109’.
Baker Mel Darbyshire of Grand Central Baking in Seattle, WA was paired with Colin Curwen-McAdams, a Seed Matters Fellow working on a PhD with Dr. Stephen Jones at WSU and created a focaccia with a purple wheat and two types of shortbread using Blue Wheat and Red Wheat, ‘Skagit 1109’.
TROMBONCINO (Cucurbita moschata) at the CBN Variety Showcase This table featured Tromboncino squash breeding lines from vegetable breeder Jim Myers of Oregon State University (right) with Chef Dev Patel (left) and Jackie Cross (middle), both of Tom Douglas Restaurants and Prosser Farm.
They are holding Dev’s creative and fun take on Petha – a translucent soft candy from North India traditionally made with ash gourd, but in this case Dev used tromboncino and fashioned it into a lollipop to be dipped in sweetened condensed milk followed by a mix of ground espelette pepper, salt and sugar.
Dev Patel’s creative and fun take on Petha – a translucent soft candy from North India traditionally made with ash gourd, but in this case Dev used tromboncino squash breeding lines and fashioned the candy into a lollipop then dipped in sweetened condensed milk followed by a mix of ground espelette pepper, salt and sugar. Delicious!
HABANERO PEPPER (Capsicum chinense). CBN Variety Showcase Chef Dev Patel of Tom Douglas Restaurants and Prosser Farm made a delicious ‘Fire-Roasted MH8 Pepper Crostino’ featuring Jim Myers’ mild habanero breeding lines. Dev also grew some specimens from Jim’s latest breeding project – Aji Dulce peppers (focus is improving plant architecture and selecting for earliness) and featured them in a scrumptious ‘Aji Dulce Yum Yum Soda’.
Uprising Seeds is an organic seed company in Bellingham, WA that specializes in open-pollinated organic vegetable and flower seed. They have an amazing selection, are focused on seed sovereignty issues and have a discriminating eye for beauty & tongue for flavor. (L to R) Meira (the future), Brian Campbell & Crystine Goldberg of Uprising Seeds with Sarah and Dirk Marshall of Marshall’s Haute Sauce at the CBN Variety Showcase at their table featuring Uprising’s selection of ‘Elephant Ears’ peppers used in the traditional Serbian sauce called Ajvar.
Eric Budzynski (seed grower and breeder) and Erica Jennings (resident chef) of Uprising Seeds at the CBN Variety Showcase showcasing ‘Sighisoara Blue’ dill which they collected while traveling in Romania. Eric and Erica came across this lovely blue-tinged dill displayed next to a standard pickling dill at a market in Sighisoara, Romania. The farmer told them that it was typically used in sweet applications, such as crepes filled with a fresh farm cheese and dill. She sold them a bag of seed. Uprising has now grown it out for two seasons in Washington.
For the Showcase, Erica used the fragrant herb in her ‘Dill Mascarpone-filled Prunes’.
Eric Budzynski (seed grower and breeder) and Erica Jennings (resident chef) of Uprising Seeds collected ‘Sighisoara Blue’ dill while traveling in Romania. Eric and Erica came across this lovely blue-tinged dill displayed next to a standard pickling dill at a market in Sighisoara, Romania. The farmer told them that it was typically used in sweet applications, such as crepes filled with a fresh farm cheese and dill. She sold them a bag of seed. Uprising has now grown it out for two seasons in Washington.
Long a fan of fenugreek as a pizza topping, Sarah Minnick of Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty had been sourcing the more common species (Trigonella foenum-graecum) from local farms around Portland. Since that species requires too long a season to reliably produce seed in the northwest, growers have been dependent on ill-adapted varieties, mostly from hot arid climates like Egypt and India. During a visit to the north of Italy she met a baker who grew, in addition to his own grains, a species of fenugreek adapted to the shorter alpine growing season there, for use in the traditional Tirolian bread Pustrer Breatln. Connecting the folks at Uprising Seeds with Italian friend Myrtha, an exchange of seeds was facilitated and the great PNW blue fenugreek project was begun. In addition to bread the herb is also used to flavor alpine cheeses in neighboring Switzerland, and is used extensively in Georgian cuisine as an ingredient in the spice mix khmeli suneli. It has an amazing fragrance of maple syrup, and complexity of lightly bitter flavor. Tonight Sarah has made us a delicious pizza with Trigonella & potatoes using 100% ‘Edison’ wheat from WSU breeder Steve Jones
CARROT, Daucus carota
Showcase: CIOA breeding lines
Breeders: Phil Simon, USDA-ARS and Laurie McKenzie, Organic Seed Alliance
Chef: Karl Holl, LetUmEat
Dish: Red carrot gnocchi, roasted carrot bolognese, carrot seed pan fritto, dried carrot top smoked parmigiano reggiano
The CARROT table at the CBN Variety Showcase focused on the breeding work & collaborative project between Phil Simon of USDA-ARS (Madison, WI) and Laurie McKenzie of Organic Seed Alliance.
The Carrot Improvement for Organic Agriculture (CIOA) project brings together researchers and farmers across the country to address the seed and breeding needs for organic carrot varieties. Weed competition, nematodes, and disease pressure are critical challenges for both fresh market and carrot seed production while flavor, appearance, and nutrition are key market qualities.
The CIOA project seeks to identify, improve, and develop superior performing carrot varieties all across the color spectrum that are specifically adapted to and optimally suited for organic production. CIOA Project Goals are to (1) improve carrot varieties for organic producers and consumers; (2) improve understanding of the farming systems influence (organic verses conventional) on variety performance and desired traits for organic producers and (3) develop a breeding model that may be adopted to other crops for organic cultivar development.
TOMATO, Solanum lycopersicum Showcase: ‘S276’ Indigo breeding line
Breeder: Jim Myers, Oregon State University
Chef: Jason French, Ned Ludd
Dish: Salad of tomato juice soaked red bulgur wheat, parsley lemon juice, and fresh tomatoes
The tepary bean (Phaseolus acutifolius A. Gray) is a distant relative of the common bean (P. vulgaris L.) known for its evolutionary adaptation to the high temperatures and drought stress of the hottest and most arid regions of Mesoamerica. The tepary phenotype is characterized by vigorous growth of a dense canopy of small leaves followed by rapid grain filling and senescence, and harvest maturity in as few as 55 days from sowing. Under severe abiotic stress, it can produce two to three times the seed yield of even the most stress tolerant common bean cultivars. Tepary seed, though smaller than common bean, exhibits similar levels of protein and micronutrients, and it retains all of the emerging health promoting properties of common beans. This combination of superior resistance to abiotic stress and favorable human nutrition coupled with the need to adapt to a hotter, drier present and future have motivated a renewed interest in the evaluation and development of improved tepary germplasm. Tep22 is the very first tepary bean cultivar to be developed from intentional parental selection, hybridization, and pedigree and family selection.
Though the tepary bean seems to be specifically adapted to the high temperatures, and shorter daylengths of subtropical and tropical latitudes, we confidently attest that its culinary attributes are worthy of being appreciated much further afield.
This tepary bean breeding and research is funded by the USDA-ARS.
Great CBN Variety Showcase partners!
Tepary Bean Geneticist/Curator: John Hart [EarthWork Seeds, previously USDA-ARS TARS Bean Program]
Chef: David Gunawan, Farmer’s Apprentice, Royal Dinette, Grapes and Soda
‘French Vanilla’ (L) and ‘Cherry Vanilla’ (R) quinoa varieties bred by Frank Morton of Wild Garden Seed. Frank’s latest release ‘Mint Vanilla’ will be featured at the #cbnvarietyshowcase by chef Andrew Mace of Han Oak.
As told here before, but certainly worth mentioning again, is the story of how Frank started growing quinoa. In the early 1980s, before Frank was a commercial seed grower and plant breeder, he starting growing his own seed for unique salad mixes he shipped to fine dining restaurants around the country. As a result of growing seed for quinoa greens for decades, he inadvertently created some of the most promising quinoa grain seed sources for our region. Pretty significant considering the amount of quinoa the U.S. imports each year and the need for increasing domestic production.
TOMATILLO, Physalis philadelphica
Showcased Breeding Work: ‘Purple Keepers’ x ‘Plaza Latina Giant’ breeding population
Breeders: Andrew Still & Sarah Kleeger, Adaptive Seeds
This is a new in-process breeding project that started when Andrew and Sarah discovered a purple fruit in the midst of their ‘Giant Green Plaza Latina’ patch and decided to grow it out and see what resulted. It has become their new effort to breed a jumbo-sized purple tomatillo that stores for a very long time off the vine. Fruit color still ranges from purple to green. The final goal will be tasty and purple.
(L to R): Andrew Still & Sarah Kleeger, Adaptive Seeds; Jaret Foster, Tournant; and Lauren Chandler, Lauren Chandler Cooks
Jaret’s CBN Variety Showcase dish was a lovely Pozole Verde with Tomatillos and Open Oak Party Mix Dent Corn
In 2010, less than a year after moving to an abandoned home in Napa Valley, Mindy and Juston started Full Table Farm after an over ambitious garden caused them to turn to local restaurants to absorb the surplus. The goal was to have a small presence at the farmers market, try not to embarrass themselves, and become part of the community. They were overwhelmed by praise from market attendees and many highly lauded chefs. This year, now with 1½ acre in production, the farm has an exclusive agreement to produce for one restaurant, Bar Tartine.
Early on out of curiosity, sentimentalism and slight hoarder tendencies they began saving seeds, quickly recognizing that selective breeding offered huge benefits for quality & from an economic perspective. They now select and carry forward seeds for much of what they grow, looking for qualities that satisfy the chefs at Bar Tartine and themselves. The first focus is always on flavor. From there they prioritize disease & pest resistance, growth habits, yield, and drought tolerance as they use a little water as possible.
Frank Morton began farming and growing his own seed in 1980. He learned the essence of plant breeding by playing with his crops during 18 years as a salad grower for fine restaurants. During this period, his farm-bred greens were major components of the unique Wild Garden salad, and were widely appreciated by chefs in Portland, New York, Boston, and Philadelphia. He and his wife, Karen, founded Wild Garden Seed in 1994, and now sell their organic seed to catalog companies, farmers and gardeners all over the world. In 2005, Frank started breeding sweet peppers when a dependable hybrid was no longer available to organic growers as all the seed available started being treated with fungicide. Starting from this one hybrid, Frank created multiple pepper varieties that perform very well on organic farms and have superior flavor and texture. This breeding project was the inspiration for the creation of the Culinary Breeding Network. His peppers were the first breeding project I brought to a group of chefs and farmers to evaluate. This is the perfect example of creating new varieties that organic farmers, chefs and eaters love. At the CBN Variety Showcase, our chef host Chris Starkus of Urban Farmer has created two dishes starring Frank’s ‘Joelene’s Rustic Red’ pepper – ‘Farmers Cheese with Joelene Pepper Jam’ and ‘Waygu Philly Cheesesteak Gougere with Spicy Pickled Joelene’s Peppers’
The Seed to Kitchen Collaborative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, led by Julie Dawson, engages plant breeders, farmers and chefs to evaluate & co-create high quality vegetable varieties for organic production in the upper Midwest. The Collaborative works with UW breeder Irwin Goldman and his graduate students to breed beets with unusually high and low levels of geosmin – the compound that gives beets their characteristically earthy flavor. These high and low geosmin lines have been bred in a variety of colors. The next step in this breeding project will be to partner with farmers and chefs to select for over-all flavor while experimenting with different models of participatory plant breeding. Kitt Healy of the Seed to Kitchen Collaborative has come out to the CBN Variety Showcase with collaborating chef Jonny Hunter of the Underground Food Collective in Madison, WI. Jonny has made a couple amazing dishes – ‘Beets with a Choclo Miso & Rye’ and a ‘Beet Caramel’.
Breeding of sweet corn began at University of Wisconsin (UW) in 1919, when there were numerous public sweet corn breeding programs. Bill Tracy, UW sweet corn breeder, now leads one of the two remaining public programs. This past February, Bill was named the Clif Bar and Organic Valley Chair in Organic Plant Breeding. This is the first ever endowed chair in organic plant breeding! Bill has spent most of his career breeding ultra-high quality dessert corns (very sweet and very tender). While most consumers prefer this type for corn on the cob, chefs find modern sweet corn too sweet and soft for use in savory dishes, soups and other uses. In 2013, Bill began new efforts in developing non- sweet vegetable corns. He has gathered heirloom sweet corns that are prized for their corny flavor and searched world collections for starchy corns that have been bred for eating quality when harvested green. Bill’s breeding program now includes Chilean choclos and Mexican pozoleros and elotes. At this year’s CBN Variety Showcase, Bill is paired with the sweet Nora Antene of Tusk and savory Maya Lovelace of Mae. Nora is a vegetable #dessertsorceress making ‘Corn Silk Pie’ with Bill’s ‘Blue-Eyed Blonde’ and Maya who specializes in southern appalachian cooking making “Warm butter braised choclo corn, green tomato & pickled pepper salad, choclo pudding, sumac roasted pecan” with Bill’s Chilean chocolo corn.
More Coverage of the Culinary Breeding Network Variety Showcase:
How chefs, farmers and seed breeders are building better vegetables [The Oregonian]
Culinary Breeding Network Adds Flavor Back In Food [Good Stuff NW]
Discover Better (and Tastier) Veggies and Grains at the Culinary Breeding Network’s Variety Showcase [Modern Farmer]
Feature Photo: Shawn Linehan
L – R: Andrew Still, Sarah Kleeger, Nate Kleinman, Matthew Dillon, Bill Tracy, Frank Morton, Jim Myers, Patrick Hayes, Colin Curwen-McAdams, Chrystine Goldberg, Brian Campbell, Lane Selman
Check out Instagram @culinarybreedingnetwork and #cbnvarietyshowcase for more!