(Photo: Melissa Jacobs)

On April 18, 2019, the Berry Good Food Foundation (BGFF) hosted its second annual “Seeds for the Future” benefit, an unforgettable event celebrating San Diego’s local and sustainable culinary community of farmers, fisherman, bakers, winemakers, distillers and brewers.

In our second year, the sold-out interactive multi-course dinner was prepared by the all-star chefs of the Puffer Malarkey Collective, including celebrity chef Brian Malarkey and his teams at Herb & Wood, Farmer & the Seahorse, Green Acre, as well as the highly anticipated Animae downtown and Herb & Sea in Encinitas. The chefs made excellent use of Specialty Produce‘s stunning Studio Kitchen, complete with chef demo tables and overhead video cameras for easy viewing.

From left: Chefs Adrian Mendoza, Mike Ground, Sarah Harris, Jordan Davis, Brian Malarkey, and Joe Magnanelli of the Puffer Malarkey Collective (Photo: Melissa Jacobs)

The intimate crowd of 60 attendees turned out to support the cause, surpassing last year’s total of $13,000 to raise $18,000 for the Berry Good Food Foundation and its current fundraising campaign to benefit school garden scholarships in San Diego County. These efforts help BGFF continue its goal to support whole food initiatives in schools and plant “seeds for the future” toward healthy habits into adulthood. Guests were shown the impact of these grants firsthand as they watched a short video interview by Plated Imagery Productions featuring Bob Lutticken, Biology Teacher, and students at Abraxas High School, one of last year’s grant recipients.

The evening kicked off with a vivid cocktail hour featuring live music by local talent Sarah Rogo, and creative tray-passed appetizers served up by Mesa College culinary student volunteers. Guests enjoyed crispy local vegetable spring rolls served with green strawberry chili jam; big eye tuna tartare with evoo, citrus, capers, chives and potatoes; and local radish with ramp butter, lime and sea salt. Drink offerings included Juneshine Hard Kombucha;  a citrus garden cocktail from Misadventure Vodka, which is produced from grains that would otherwise be thrown out; and an array of wine offerings from our local bio region of Baja California and San Diego County. A garden table raffle hosted by BGFF’s School Garden Chair, Mim Michelove, awarded a few lucky guests with produce baskets from Be Wise Ranch, two tickets to a show at Belly Up, BABE Kombucha kits and more.

From left: Whit Rigali serving Misadventure Vodka’s seasonal citrus cocktail; Bob Lutticken of Abraxas Garden and his wife Christine (Photo: Melissa Jacobs)

The culinary benefit was emceed by beloved San Diego Fox 5 TV personality Heather Lake and celebrity chef Brian Malarkey who kept guests entertained and helped showcase the diversity of ingredients, as well as guide people through a remarkable silent auction with items like a Specialty Produce gift basket; private dinner for 10 at La Jolla’s Whisknladle; Brunch for two at the Crown Room, The Del Coronado; ONEHOPE Wine Iconic Collection Wood Box Set; Seafood dinner and cocktails for 12 at Ironside Fish & Oyster; two Sold Out tickets to see Steel Pulse at the Belly Up; Professional Portrait package with Darin Fong Photography, and more.

Beautiful table designs by Moni Boyd included the names of local school garden grant recipients (Photo: Melissa Jacobs)

Ranging from land and sea, each course utilized only the freshest meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices sourced within a 100-mile radius. Spearheading the procurement of these items was Jack Ford of Taj Farms who oversaw the collaboration between the chefs and contributing vendors, obtained top-quality proteins and other ingredients from local farms, and contributed cheeses and other dairy products from his local farm. Diners also enjoyed course wine pairings from local vineyards.

Chef Sarah Harris of the highly anticipated Herb & Sea concept offered a delicious Spot Prawn Aguachile for the first course sourced from Saraspe Seafoods, a company of third generation fishing family born and raised in San Diego, paired with Dassi cucumber, Polito tangerines, and Stehly Farms Organics spring onions – accompanied by sips of 2017 Charlie and Echo Viognier.

Chef Harris’s Spot Prawn Aguachile (Photo: Melissa Jacobs)

Chef Jordan Davis of Farmer & the Seahorse followed up with a special Spring Morel Mushroom Toast for the second course, made with Taj Farms Chevre, peas, radish, mint, lemon and brioche paired with 2014 Rancho Guejito Rockwood Blanc.

Chef Davis’s Spring Morel Mushroom Toast (Photo: Melissa Jacobs)

Herb & Wood’s Executive Chef Mike Ground’s third course was a delicate presentation of Local Farms Sheep’s Milk Agnolotti served with green garlic, lemon, and rabbit Bolognese paired with 2015 Ramona Ranch Burlesque.

Chef Joe Magnanelli of Malarkey’s newest upscale Asian-inspired concept, Animae, prepared a crowd-pleasing dish of Gonestraw Farms Roasted Duck with Be Wise Ranch cabbage pancake, and orange hoisin paired with 2013 Stehleon Vineyards Syrah.

(Photo: Melissa Jacobs)

Ending on a sweet note, Herb & Wood’s Executive Pastry Chef Adrian Mendoza whipped up a seasonal Rice Pudding with ginger, thyme, local strawberries and cocoa nib ice cream.

Thank you to all the incredible chefs, attendees, and sponsors who helped make our school garden fundraising drive an incredible success: Puffer Malarkey Restaurants, Specialty Produce, Misadventure Vodka, Juneshine Kombucha, Temecula Olive Oil Company, Chef Works, Solar Rain, Be Wise Ranch, Tehachapi Heritage Grain Project, Heather Lake, Chinitas Pies, Belly Up, Annie Hartford Designs, Taj Farms, San Diego Mesa College, Hotel del Coronado, Maretalia, Sarah Rogo, Ironside Fish & Oyster, Whisknladle, Darin Fong Photography, Melissa Jacobs Photography, OneHope Wine, Domaine Artefact, Hungry Hawk Vineyards, Highland Valley Vineyards, Vena Cava, Finca La Carodilla, Cavas Valmar, Lechuza, Orfila Vineyards and Winery, Vesper Vineyards, Rio Del Rey Heirloom Beans, and Laura Chambers Goat Milk Soap.

We are also very grateful to Roger Harrington of Specialty Produce for hosting the Berry Good Food Foundation event and who continues to sponsor/host our programs, such as our Berry Good Food Academy classes, with such generosity.

If you know of a school or educational organization that may want to apply for a BGFF garden grant, an application will be posted here soon. Applications will be accepted September 9 – October 7, 2019.

From left: BGFF board and team members Kevin Davis, Jessica Waite, Ashley Abed, Sandra Broussard, Pablo Fernandez, Mim Michelove. In Front: Jane Bills, Christina Ng, Ann Wycoff (Photo: Melissa Jacobs)