Local Foodie Heads Slow Food Barbeque



Chef Ryan Adams at last year’s event.

Local foodie Roger McErlane is chairman of Slow Food Orange County’s third annual fundraising barbeque, to be held from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. this Sunday, July 10, in Bommer Canyon in Irvine.

When McErlane first joined up with the local Slow Food chapter at its inception about 10 years ago, he said the movement toward seasonal, local food was just beginning to be appreciated.

In keeping with Slow Food’s mission of promoting an appreciation for and access to quality fresh food produced in a way that respects the environment and sustains local farmers, the event’s menu highlights fresh local ingredients. Most of the produce was donated by area farms, and Fulton Farms has donated Mary’s Free Range Chicken for the main course. Other supporters include Whole Foods Market, Stone Brewing Company and Quivira Winery.

A. G. Kawamura, former secretary of California’s food and agriculture department, will be the guest speaker at the al fresco event, which will also feature live music by 5 Star Band.

Each year Slow Food OC holds the barbeque to support an area nonprofit whose mission dovetails with theirs. This year’s beneficiary is the Grain Project, which promotes farmer’s markets, community gardens and public art in Santa Ana. For more info: www.grainproject.org.

Ryan Adams, chef of Laguna’s Sorrento Grille, has volunteered to prepare the food for the second year. Adams himself is an advocate for sustainable agriculture and eating food in season that is locally grown. “That’s the way I grew up,” said Adams, recalling the backyard gardens of his grandmother and his mother, when there was a sort of community barter system with people exchanging the surpluses of their garden for produce they didn’t grow. “People need to get back to that,” said Adams.

McErlane couldn’t agree more. He has seen progress in sustainable farming in other countries and sees possibilities for local farmers. Recently back from the Basque region of northern Spain, he spoke enthusiastically of the success of a 52 farm cooperative that supplies a region with almost all food needs at supermarket prices. In pooling their resources, small scale farmers can make a decent living and everyone benefits, said McErlane.

McErlane, a landscape architect by trade who recently retired as the Irvine Company’s planning director, said he’d prefer to have been in the food business.

Slow Food Orange County, a chapter of Slow Food USA, meets monthly, alternating between potluck events and educational meetings, such as learning about cheese making or visiting an aqua farm. To learn more, visit www.SlowFoodOC.org.

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