With farmers markets closed for the season, eating local foods can be difficult this time of year.
Chef Mark Sulltrop has managed to meet the challenge by gathering local ingredients he will use at a cooking demonstration at 12:30 p.m. Saturday sponsored by the Columbia/Boone County Health Department and will be held in the department's main training room. The event is free, but seats are limited to the first 30 people to register by calling 874-6396.
The department’s “Columbia Cooks” series is financed by a $303,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. Twelve cooking demonstrations will be filmed over the next 2 1/2 years to produce a 12-volume packet that can be shared with other communities wanting to teach healthy cooking skills. The series will also be aired on The City Channel, which is Channel 13 on Mediacom and Channel 2 on Charter Communications.
Sulltrop plans to prepare a warm panzanella salad made with several local ingredients: spinach from the Root Cellar, ciabatta from Uprise Bakery, cheese from Goatsbeard farm in Harrisburg and black walnuts. The gastrique dressing will feature pears and apple cider with local sorghum as a healthier alternative to white sugar.
The audience will get tips on buying and preparing local foods and have the opportunity to win door prizes and sample foods.
“Local is a very important aspect of healthy eating that’s emerging right now,” said Linda Cooperstock, public health planner at the Health Department.
She explained that local foods are fresher and have traveled shorter distances, decreasing the chance of food-borne bacteria and that it’s important for community spirit to support local farmers and food producers.
Featuring local foods can also be good for business. Sulltrop used local ingredients as executive chef of Les Bourgeois in Rocheport and plans to continue supporting local farmers and producers at Bleu Restaurant in The Tiger hotel when it opens in March.
“You have to be able to differentiate yourself,” Sulltrop said.
In addition to the cooking series, the foundation grant pays for expanding the Walking School Bus program and for more health training for day-care workers. It will also allow the Health Department to partner with the Youzeum on filmed cooking demonstrations.
Each “Columbia Cooks” event will feature a different guest chef and a variety of topics including cooking for one, cooking for teenagers and learning simple recipes.