The sun hangs low in the sky over WE Over Me Farm at Paul Quinn College as a crowd of more than 400 filters onto the football-field-converted-garden-converted-five-star-restaurant. Warm, orange light illuminates the smiles of each guest as they take eager steps out onto the soft earth where the annual “A Community Cooks” event is held. Three years ago, the college turned an unused football field into an organic farm for the residents of the Highland Hills area around the campus where the closest grocery store is five miles away. Now the neighborhoods, as well as local restaurants, have a source for fresh food.
More than 20 chefs from their respective Dallas restaurants showed up to feed the familiar faces of the community. The eclectic range of guests came from all over the Metroplex—Dallas, Plano, McKinney—but earthy landscape, soft music and exceptional food reminded me more of a family reunion. There was even rumored to be a few Austinites present among us. Wattley affectionately referred to her supporters as a “smörgåsbord.” There’s really nothing like phenomenal food to bring people together. Eddie “Lucky” Campbell shook up specialty drinks for guests all night.
Lucky danced and jived as he served up cocktails to the crowds, and his enthusiasm was echoed through the gathering. There’s really something to be said about the whole mission of WE Over Me Farm, which is what brought all these people together. If you haven’t heard the message, farm manager Andrea Bithell lays it out.
The farm, which aims to provide healthy foods to an area that has traditionally lacked a supermarket within walkable distance, sells food at a discounted rate to families in the community. Bithell says you can give someone a few bucks and send them to a fast food dollar menu, but that doesn’t really solve the issue of hunger in low-income communities. Homegrown food does something the fast-food market can’t: It feeds the body and mind, Bithell says. She explains what $2 spent at her farm can do versus a few bucks spent at a fast food joint.
“You can buy a burger off a dollar menu,” Bithell said. “Are you full? Yes. Are you fed? No.”
The farm started in 2009 as a partnership between the school and Pepsi-Cola. It has since produced more than 10,000 pounds of fresh, organic produce. Its mission models off something Bithell calls the “Four C’s”: community, cafeteria, charity and chefs.
The farm gives 10 percent of its sells to charity, as well as feeds 400 to 500 Highland Hills families per week. If those numbers aren’t something to be astounded by, I don’t know what is.
Expect BIG things from this modest, 2-acre farm. And that’s what Dallas is about, right? Expect dishes like braised lamb and spring carrot salad, fresh spring pea soup and strawberry gazpacho made almost exclusively from the fresh produce grown right here on this farm by the students of this college.
As the sun set over the farm and the night came to a close, Paul Quinn President Michael J. Sorrell announced, “One promise: we are just warming up.”
Aimee Pass is a senior at the University of North Texas studying journalism, English, and political science. She has been interning with D Magazine since January. She is a long-time food-lover, first-time food-blogger.
Full disclosure: Last night I took my good friend Don Waddington to dinner. Don, who recently lost his wife, Polly, wanted to attend Sevy’s 100th wine dinner celebration. Sevy’s has been Don and Polly’s favorite restaurant since it opened. The Waddingtons traveled on both D Magazine chef cruises, which also included Jim Severson and his wife, Amy. I know Jim and Amy and consider them good friends. Amy contributes to SideDish. I do not review Sevy’s, and it is one of the few restaurants I go to on my own nickel.
Back to last night. Sevy’s private dining room was filled with loyal customers. It was not a media event. I wasn’t working. However, I noticed a woman with a camera and a tape recorder in her hand working the room as if she was the hostess. She snapped pictures, took down names, and chatted with everyone in the room. When a course was served, she would sit down, but once she was finished, she was up again and working the room. At one point, I overheard her say, “Well, I can’t write about it if I don’t taste it.”
I turned to Amy Severson and asked if she knew the name of the woman. “She came in the restaurant the other day and introduced herself as a food writer, asked for a copy of our logo, and made a reservation for the wine dinner,” Amy said. “There was never any discussion of any quid pro quo, nor was there any discussion of her covering the wine and food dinner for us as a PR move.”
However, it was obvious to all at our table that this woman was all about PR, but not for the restaurant. She was there to promote herself.
Oh, let’s get to the bottom of this.55 Comments »
Gladys Aston passed away on Monday August 20 after a long illness. She was 75. Gladys worked side by side with her husband Richard, and later her daughter Mary Miller making cakes for the residents of the Park Cities and Dallas at the now 78-year old Aston’s Bakery.
Born in Minnesota on March 28th 1937, Gladys Irene Johnson was the 11th of 12 children. Her parents were small farmers. She worked at National Foods as a baker, and met Richard Aston who was doing an internship for Dunwoody College. They married, and in 1970 moved with their daughter Mary to Dallas where Richard’s father had opened Aston’s Bakery in 1934.
This afternoon Amy Severson stopped by the bakery and spoke with Mary. Mary said that even when her mother was no longer able to come into the bakery, she would call several times a day to find out if everything was being handled correctly. Her mother’s concern for taking care of their customers extended to her dying wish to her husband: “If I die overnight on a workday, please don’t call Mary [to help me] because there’s nothing she can do and she needs to get them [customers] their cakes.” When Mary took over the day-to-day operations and moved it to Lovers Lane, she became the first of the third generation to run the bakery.
Gladys is survived by her husband, Richard, daughter Mary and husband Jeff Miller, and grandchildren Garrett and Mallory. Services will he held on Monday, August 27th, 1:00 at North Dallas Funeral Home. Donations in Gladys’ memory may be made to either Operation Kindness or The Family Place.12 Comments »
Sevy’s co-owner Amy Severson refers to herself as a numbers-chewing-pit bull-with lipstick. She is a brilliant accountant and she stays on top of all the legislation that affects the Texas restaurant business. On Monday, Amy attended a tax seminar hosted by the Texas Restaurant Association during the recent 2012 Southwest Foodservice Expo. Below you will find her report on some important state tax issues facing the restaurant and hospitality industry in the upcoming legislative session. If you don’t like reading about taxes, she urges you to move along, but if you own or plan to own a restaurant, bar, or hotel, you might want to read this. Agree, disagree, or shed some light, please..
First, I’d like to point out that nothing written here should be construed as tax advice. You should discuss these matters with a good CPA who is familiar with the peculiarities of your business and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Code. There are too many people out there who give out tax advice without being certified, trained tax professionals. The sad thing is that many people take free advice and, without knowing better, end up taking illegal tax deductions.
Jump and join the discussion. Continue reading "Mixed Beverage Tax Update: I Went to the TRA Tax Seminar So You Wouldn’t Have To"5 Comments »
Last night, Amy Severson couldn’t sleep. She turned on the light, grabbed a pen and paper, and started doodling.
First, a few things to disclose. I talked to Dean Fearing’s about this endeavor because my memory isn’t what it used to be. Second, when you see “Sfuzzi,” it refers to the original, not the current (for the youngsters in the audience). Third, I know there are bound to be errors, too bad. This was the best I could do at 3:30 in the morning. Fourth, I have tried to update locations, but some are questionable, thus the “?”
Remember this chart is the first draft of a larger project. Looking forward to adding more names and connections.25 Comments »
Sevy’s co-owner Amy Severson makes this claim: “A full-service, lunch-and-dinner- liquor-serving business generates more taxes per-square-foot than most industries.” Below she wonders why the Texas State Legislature continues to penalize small to mid-sized restaurant owners. Hear her roar.
Imagine if you were sitting down for coffee with Uncle Sam, and the conversation started like this:
Uncle Sam: “Hey, we’re having a little budget problem and we’re going to collect your next month’s taxes out of your next paycheck.”
You: “But I might not have a job next month, and this month I have a mortgage that needs to be paid, utilities, car payment, kids in college [the list goes on]. How can I pay you ahead of time if I haven’t earned the money yet?”
Uncle Sam: “Whatever.”
Certainly this scene would not be appetizing to any taxpayer – individual or business – especially in a state that touts its tax friendliness. So it was a surprise to read in the 2011 Legislative Update issued by Susan Combs Comptroller of Public Accounts, that the State of Texas has cooked their books with a recipe for disaster for small restaurants. They’ve added Senate Bill 1, an “advance tax payment” plan to balance their biannual budget. This follows a revised state franchise tax that burdens restaurants with a very high effective-net-income rate. They are literally trying to kill us.
Gory details below.17 Comments »