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Apr 032009

Photo: Ralph Smith
Chef Randy Evans chats with dinner guests.

By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now

Foodies love to talk about “pairings” – usually they’re discussing the best wine to compliment an entree and there are those wine/chocolate pairings everyone seems to be buzzed about.

Houston gourmands have begun exploring a more fundamental pairing: They’re bringing top chefs together with local farms, within 150 miles of the city, as part of a celebration of local food.

The FM 150 Farm to Table Dinner series kicked off this past weekend at the Bellaire studio of photographer Ralph Smith, where tables were set up in the courtyard around a candle-lit pond.

The first featured chef was Randy Evans, former executive chef at Brennan’s, which Houstonians and many people beyond will recognize. Since Brennan’s burned down, Evans has become the co-owner of a new green restaurant called Haven, which is set to open this summer. Haven will feature local food and other green features, like a shade garden inside the restaurant.

For the dinner Evans worked with local farmers, and specifically with Gita Van Woerden owner of Animal Farm in Cat Springs, Texas, (no we didn’t make that name up).

The result: Evans with the help of sous chefs, Van Woerden and Gulf of Mexico shrimpers fulfilled everyone’s hopes, and tummies, with a delectable spread of Gulf shrimp with Tabasco sorbet, a hot house tomato arugula salad with goat cheese vinaigrette, iron seared Gulf shrimp and carmelized pork shoulder followed by a colorful Baked Alaska with a chocolate beet cake base.  Alas, we don’t get to taste. But please take a look.