Last week I hosted a benefit dinner for our local food bank. This is the third year we’ve held the event, and it was a sold-out success that raised over $10K. For the past two years, I have created a 5 course meal using mostly canned and dried goods that could most likely be found in a food bank. For this year, I totally changed the format. I wanted to do a sustainable & local head-to-tail/root-to-stalk dinner. While the first two years were hugely successful, at the end of the day I wasn’t happy about what I was serving. This wasn’t how I cooked on a day-to-day basis, and I wanted to cook food that I was proud of. Last year’s event was held on the same night that the big Cook It Raw dinner was going on in Charleston, and that hammered home the point that we needed to change our format. While we need to be reactionary to hunger needs by having food available in food banks, I felt that by doing a dinner highlighting less expensive, seasonal ingredients, as well as off-cuts and scrap, we could show a great way of eating that focuses more on healthful foods and is more economical. Why pay $10/pound for salmon when we have delicious, invasive Maryland Blue Catfish in the Chesapeake that costs less than $4/pound. Like many chefs, I like to do charcuterie, so I did an 8-item charcuterie bar for happy hour, with the centerpiece being a whole pig’s head, glazed with a pumpkin ale agro dolce.
A big thank you to Jeff Givens of Southern Skies Coffee for being my photographer for the evening.

Grocery List

Corn Husks

Corn Cobs

Pig’s Head from Autumn Olive Farms. http://www.autumnolivefarms.com/

Pig’s Heart & Shoulder

Beef Tongue

Chicken Liver, Skin & Fat

Salmon Bellies from Sustainably Farmed Verlasso Salmon http://www.verlasso.com/

Invasive, Maryland Catfish http://dnr2.maryland.gov/fisheries/Pages/catfish.aspx

Cauliflower Cores

Rainbow Chard Stems

Watermelon Rind



Turnip Greens

Red Cabbage


Celery Leaves


Street Corn Sour

Corn on the Cob Bourbon, Roasted Corn Husk Syrup, Lime Juice & Chili Powder

Happy Hour

Roasted Hog’s Head

Pumpkin Ale Agro Dolce

Green Curry Sausage

Hog’s Heart Pastrami


Chopped Liver

Chicken Skin Cracklins’

Fried BBQ Pig Face McNuggetz


Sweet & Sour Verlasso Salmon Bellies


Sauerbraten-Style Beef Tongue

Gingersnap Mustard

Pimento Cheese



Fried Catfish

Fried, Maryland Blue Catfish with Cauliflower Core Harissa Aioli & Pickled Chard Stems & Watermelon Rind



Venison Meatloaf with Lingonberry BBQ

Venison & Bacon Meatloaf, Topped with a Lingonberry BBQ Sauce. Served over Smoked Gouda Grits

with Braised Turnip Greens


Red Cabbage, Apple & Akavit Granita


Parsnip Cake

Parsnip and Walnut Cake with Root Beer/Turnip Cream Cheese Frosting and Parsley Crème Anglaise

If you like what you see, please consider hiring me for an in-home dinner or cooking lesson. Get more information here. Thank you.

Chris Spear