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The finished dish by the Hearth & Dram team at the chef's demo on May 25 at the Union Station Farmers' Market.EXPAND
The finished dish by the Hearth & Dram team at the chef's demo on May 25 at the Union Station Farmers' Market.
Linnea Covington

Farmers' Market With the Chef: Adam Vero of Hearth & Dram

After a week of cold, rain and snow, Saturday's sun and heat were much appreciated, especially by the farmers, shoppers and Adam Vero and Jeff Hickman, the guest chefs at the Union Station Farmers' Market, who were there on May 25 to shop and create a dish from their fresh market finds.

Chefs Jeff Hickman and Adam Vero of Hearth & Dram prep for the Saturday morning chef demo at the Union Station Farmers' Market.EXPAND
Chefs Jeff Hickman and Adam Vero of Hearth & Dram prep for the Saturday morning chef demo at the Union Station Farmers' Market.
Linnea Covington

"Typically we come and see what we have to work with and go from there," says Vero, the executive chef at Hearth & Dram just a few blocks away from the station. "We are trying to highlight the radish and thought about making a fresh salsa with all the things that look good to us."

Each week, chefs get to pick a central ingredient for the chef's demo, an event hosted from 10 to 11 a.m. in the market every Saturday through the end of the season. This time the star came in radish form, and we found tons of them, from mild French breakfast to zlata to Easter egg. Don't know all these types of Raphanus sativus? Never fear: The farmers manning Ollin Farms and ACRES at Warren Tech, where these vegetables came from, can tell you all about them.

So many radishes at ACRES at Warren Tech's farm stand.EXPAND
So many radishes at ACRES at Warren Tech's farm stand.
Linnea Covington

However, Vero didn't need a tutorial to get his dish going. He and Hickman, his chef de cuisine, bantered and planned like long-acquainted friends. Turns out that their professional relationship goes back to before Vero took over the kitchen at Hearth & Dram, when they both worked for TAG Restaurant Group for years.

"We make food really collaboratively and sometimes even finish each other's sentences," says Vero as the pair danced about the makeshift kitchen in the market.

Cherokee purple tomatoes from Rocky Mountain Fresh.EXPAND
Cherokee purple tomatoes from Rocky Mountain Fresh.
Linnea Covington

Together they made an addictive smoked-green-tomato purée, which they brought from the restaurant to add to the dish. The tomatoes in the purée came from Rocky Mountain Fresh, and while shopping the market they stopped at this farm's stand and picked up a bunch of heirloom green tomatoes and beautiful purple Cherokee to add to the garden-salad salsa for which they had a loose plan.

Tart and sweet green heirloom tomatoes get prepped.EXPAND
Tart and sweet green heirloom tomatoes get prepped.
Linnea Covington

"This will be an atypical salsa, more of a chopped-vegetable salad on a chip," says Vero, adding that they work with lots of produce at Hearth & Dram and even make a killer fresh tofu. "At the restaurant, we make a lot of things that aren't meat, but we get pigeonholed as a meat restaurant."

Everything for the Hearth & Dram recipe is ready to go.EXPAND
Everything for the Hearth & Dram recipe is ready to go.
Linnea Covington

There was no meat in this dish, though. Instead, the chefs filled it with baby turnips, spring onion, the aforementioned tomatoes, radishes and chunks of pink-and-green rhubarb. To cook down the veggies a little (save for the rhubarb), Vero splashed smoky Del Maguey mezcal into the pan along with avocado and olive oil, a house-blended seasoning from Savory Spice, and a guajillo chile vinegar the chefs had made with the "throw-away" parts of the pepper.

Chef Jeff Hickman slices turnip greens thinly to add to the dish.EXPAND
Chef Jeff Hickman slices turnip greens thinly to add to the dish.
Linnea Covington

For almost an hour, Vero and Hickman chopped, sliced, cured, cooked, sautéed and stirred these ingredients around, all the while chatting with market shoppers about what was in the pot and sharing tidbits about Hearth & Dram. By 11 a.m., a crowd had gathered to try this spring vegetable salsa, and within fifteen minutes, the tangy, fruity, crunchy and delicious dish had been doled out to dozens of people and was gone.

Tada! The spring garden salsa is ready to eat with chips brought from Hearth & Dram.EXPAND
Tada! The spring garden salsa is ready to eat with chips brought from Hearth & Dram.
Linnea Covington

Afterward, the chefs cleaned up, folded up their aprons and departed, with plans to hang out together for part of their weekend away from their restaurant.

Chef Adam Vero inspects some rhubarb for his chef's demo.EXPAND
Chef Adam Vero inspects some rhubarb for his chef's demo.
Linnea Covington
Rhubarb prep for the chefs demo at Union Station Farmers' Market.EXPAND
Rhubarb prep for the chefs demo at Union Station Farmers' Market.
Linnea Covington
The rhubarb gets a salt-and-sugar cure before being put into the salad.EXPAND
The rhubarb gets a salt-and-sugar cure before being put into the salad.
Linnea Covington
Walking onions, one of the many spring onions you can get in the farmers' market in the spring.EXPAND
Walking onions, one of the many spring onions you can get in the farmers' market in the spring.
Linnea Covington
Ruby-hued radishes at Ollin Farms.EXPAND
Ruby-hued radishes at Ollin Farms.
Linnea Covington
Chef Jeff Hickman preps an array of colorful radishes.EXPAND
Chef Jeff Hickman preps an array of colorful radishes.
Linnea Covington
An out-of-town shopper also gets down with some radishes.EXPAND
An out-of-town shopper also gets down with some radishes.
Linnea Covington
Walking onions, one of the many spring onions you can get in the farmers' market in the spring.EXPAND
Walking onions, one of the many spring onions you can get in the farmers' market in the spring.
Linnea Covington
So many yummy vegetables from the Union Station Farmers' Market.EXPAND
So many yummy vegetables from the Union Station Farmers' Market.
Linnea Covington

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