Arriving at Colterra Food and Wine feels like you've just pulled up to grandma's house for Sunday dinner. As you enter, you almost expect to be greeted by family members. And in a way, you are: The staff is warm and inviting, and quickly make you feel at home, like part of the community. And in a way, that's what Colterra is all about. The restaurant is located in the quaint, tiny town of Niwot, and since community is so important here, chef/owner Bradford Heap felt the need to lend a helping hand to those farmers who have created the ingredients for these simple, beautiful dishes. And tonight Colterra will do that by hosting a very special Tables to Farm dinner.
Talking about the devastating floods of September, Heap -- who also owns SALT Bistro in Boulder -- and his neighbor, John Bachman of Big Red F Restaurant Group, came up with the concept of Tables to Farms.
Through this program, area chefs can help Boulder County farmers whose crops were lost or severely damaged by the floods; many also lost their opportunity to produce a spring crop next year. From now through November, participating restaurants will collect donations from customers and host fundraising events, with all of the proceeds going to Boulder County farms via Local Food Shift Group's Front Range Farm Relief.
"We have had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to this event, with countless people offering their help or asking what they could do to help," says Colterra exec chef Michael Drazsnzak.
Colterra was physically affected by the flood, too; its garden was inundated and the building itself began taking on water. "All of us were dedicated in fixing the restaurant, doing all we could to save it," Drazsnzak recalls. "In those first few days of the flood, you really realized how fragile things are -- how easily something so significant can be taken away."
Although the floods did not destroy the restaurant, it changed the game for Colterra. "The calls started to pour in from local farmers, saying that they didn't have much they could save or nothing at all," he says. So Heap and his crew thought of ways they could work around the shortage -- and help the farmers out. They began to ask other local purveyors -- including Full Circle Farms, North East Sea Food, Italco, Cheese Importers and Shamrock -- for donations for flood relief, and the companies were more than happy to help out.
"I believe that people in the community started to help out more because they are becoming more aware of food, and the preserved integrity of food that is produced within Colorado," says Drazsnzak. "There is a fundamental shift in our diet that is allowing us to put the farmer back in the forefront. We need farmers in order to learn about sustainability and learn what's in season now and what is coming up. As a chef, it helps me plan a menu and feature some of the great produce that Colorado has to offer."
Tonight's five-course Tables to Farm event at Colterra is $150, and features wines donated by the Natural Wine Company. Farms that benefit from the fundraiser include Full Circle Farm, Oxford Gardens, Black Cat Farm, 63rd Street Farm and The Fresh Herb Company. See the menu at the Colterra website; call 303-652-0777 for a reservation.
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