Event Preview: Second-Annual Farm in the Cities at Solera Restaurant

This weekend, a collection of all-star Twin Cities chefs and farmers will be coming together for a good cause. Spearheaded by Jorge Guzman, the executive chef at Solera Restaurant, the second-annual Farm in the Cities event highlights the true meaning of farm-to-table dining, all while benefiting a good cause.


The event will begin with a free meet-and-greet with area farmers, including farms such as Dragsmith Farms, Hidden Stream Farm, and Laughing Loon Farm. Farmers will be handing out samples of their produce and chatting about farming and sustainability. Even if you don’t have a ticket to the following dinner, this is a great chance to get to know your farmer in a relaxed setting (and with a beer in hand from the cash bar).


Afterward, guests with tickets (only $45! includes wine pairings! but sadly sold out) will move to a seven-course dinner featuring produce from the farmers at the meet-and-greet. The sold-out dinner will feature courses from a wide range of Twin Cities chefs, including Wyatt Evans (W.A. Frost), Lenny Russo (Heartland), Fernando Silvio (Harriet Brasserie), Steven Brown (Tilia), Landon Schoenefeld (Haute Dish), Jack Riebel (Butcher and the Boar), Matt Paulson (the Sample Room), Brian Hauke (Red Stag), and Sarah Master (Café Barbette). And, of course, Guzman himself.


The best part? All proceeds from the event benefit this year’s designated non-profit, Youth Farm and Market Project (also known as Youth Farms), which helps youth build leadership skills and empowerment through farming. Last year, in the inaugural event, all proceeds went to Second Harvest Heartland.


In the days leading up to the event, Guzman took a few minutes to answer some questions for SGT over email.


SGT: This is the second annual Farm in the Cities event. How did Farm in the Cities get started?

JG: Farm in the cities got started when Maurice Smith from Dragsmith came to me with an idea he had about putting on an event with farmers and local chefs in the MSP area. He received a grant from the state and wanted to give back to the community. From there we brainstormed the idea Farm in the Cities and kind of took it from there.


SGT: How did you decide to work with Youth Farms this year? Can you tell us a little about the organization? 

JG: I decided on Youth Farms this year because of what the organization stands for: “Growing food to Develop Youth.” They believe:

- strong youth make strong communities

- value and honor the diversity in our communities

- building connections is foundational to their work

- believe in long term relationships

- believe in local empowerment

It’s about creating strong youth who will later create strong communities. I believe that if we reach our children first with strong leadership and mentorship that we create better communities within our cities, and they do this all through the power of growing food

SGT: Can you tell us a little about the meet-and-greet portion of the event (from 4-6 pm)?

JG: The meet and greet portion is really cool. All the farmers that are joining us this year will be on the second floor of Solera, and each will have their own table with samples of their products where you will be able to go up and taste, and also talk to them and find out about them and their farms.

SGT: Can you also tell us a little about the dinner portion of the event? How do you decide on the chefs who will be serving at Farm in the Cities? How are they paired up for each course? The chefs are paired up to collaborate on a course -- what is that collaboration like?

JG: The dinner portion will be a seven course chefs tasting menu. We decided on pairing chefs up because it allows us to have more chefs participate. As to who is paired with who, well there really wasn’t a formula for it . . . we just said you’re with this chef and you’re with this chef. As to who is participating this year, we have a bunch of returning chefs from last year and we also asked a lot of chefs to participate – some couldn’t because of scheduling conflicts and some were able to. Collaboration with another chef is really cool because you get to learn what they know and see different techniques that you might not have thought of. For me, I always really enjoy watching and learning from other chefs so it’s a real treat to be able to collaborate because it doesn’t happen often.


The moral of the story? Come on out for the free meet-and-greet with farmers, and, next year, get your tickets for the 2013 Farm in the Cities as soon as they go on sale! (And visit the Farm in the Cities website to make a donation to Youth Farms.)


Farm in the Cities 2012

Sunday, September 23rd

Solera Restaurant

900 Hennepin Avenue

Minneapolis, MN 55403

4:00 – 6:00 pm: Free Meet-and-Greet with Farmers (2nd floor)

6:30 – 8:30 pm: Seven-Course Chef’s Dinner benefiting Youth Farm and Market Project (3rd floor)

Tickets to the chef’s dinner are sold out, but you can still donate to Youth Farms on the event’s page here.


Claire Stanford is a writer and editor at Simple, Good, and Tasty. She last wrote a preview for the SGT September Book Club. She can be reached at Follow her at @clairemiye.