Chef’s offerings highlight Delta County’s abundance | AspenTimes.com

Chef’s offerings highlight Delta County’s abundance

Stewart Oksenhorn

The farmers in Delta County can’t grow citrus fruits. Olive oil, salt and pepper, and some grains also have to be imported.Apart from those, if the ground will bear it, Delta County farms are bound to produce it. Dava Parr, a chef who lives in Paonia and takes care of a house in Aspen, is making sure of that. Currently, Parr is tracking the progress of sweet potatoes and okra at various regional farms; edamame is one of the area’s recent arrivals.”It’s a farmer’s delight to have someone ask them to grow something,” said Parr, whose company, Fresh & Wyld, offers cooking workshops and makes home deliveries of food boxes, all organic, locally grown. “They need to have some feedback.”For most of what they produce, the Delta County producers haven’t needed Parr’s help. The area has long been a breadbasket, yielding greens, tomatoes, peaches, beef and lamb. But Parr is helping to spotlight the bounty.Parr is chef for tonight’s Zephyros Farm Dinner. The event, on a 40-acre spread, features five courses – including lamb meatballs, sweet tomato bisque and buffalo strip steaks – paired with wines. And virtually everything was grown or raised within a stone’s throw.”If they can be harvested locally, we’ll find them,” said Parr, who studied nutrition in London. “We kind of made an extreme effort to make it local. We could have made it easier on ourselves by going to the supermarket, but we said, ‘Nooo!'” Parr said her cooking abilities take second billing to the farmers and ranchers. The area’s food producers, virtually all small-scale operators, can’t compete with huge commercial farms. But most of them have learned they can make a living selling organic produce.”It’s grown into a huge Mecca of organic growers and vintners and small ranchers,” Parr said.The Delta County Board of Tourism dreamed up the dinner, and Parr didn’t blink before signing on as chef.”I said I’d love to do local, organic foods and show them off,” she said. “I had to pass on a lot of catering gigs, but this is a chef’s dream. Or, this is my dream as a chef.”Stewart Oksenhorn’s e-mail address is stewart@aspentimes.com