Record turnout at Helena Market Days

By LAURA BROOKHART / Community Columnist

Helena Market Days kicked off its third year on Saturday, June 4, with record turnout exploring some familiar and some new farmer faces and products.

The crowd attending Chef Chris Hastings demo of his signature Hot & Hot Tomato Salad enjoyed a taste of the luscious, layered concoction that combines a stacked/layered presentation comprised of a rainbow selection of four kinds of tomatoes, seasoned, smoked field peas mixed with lightly sautéed corn, fried okra, fresh basil chiffonade and chive dressing drizzle topped with Applewood smoked bacon.

While three brass members of the Alabama Junior Symphony performed, Hastings signed his cookbooks and chatted with foodies and fans present.

The second weekend, an equally enthusiastic gathering wiped out every tartar-sauce and fresh tomato chutney topped crab cake served up by Chef Austin Davis of Bright Star Restaurant.

Mary Perko, who books the market chefs, has excelled again with a great roster of demos for the rest of the market season.

Perko asks each chef to provide recipes for the dishes they prepare, so it is easy to gather your fresh ingredients on the spot and make your family very happy that same night.

Chef Austin Davis of The Bright Star restaurant prepared signature crab cakes topped with homemade salsa and tartar sauce at his recent chef demo at Helena Market Days. (Contributed)

Come early to get the widest choice of pickings — summer squash, beans, zucchini, onions, peppers, red and green tomatoes, peaches, goat cheese, stone-ground grits, pickles, sauces, herbal vinegars and more then wend your way at 9 a.m. to the chef demo.

Live music will also be a weekly happening as thus far musicians After II Glasses and BJ and Jake have entertained. This week brings Abby Greer, a former Helena Idol contestant, with her indie-folk repertoire.

Look for these new vendors:

AA Farm Creamery from Millbrook – specializing in goat and cow cheese; Five Points Grist Mill – old Fashioned Stone Ground Corn Meal & Grits; Josh Smitherman, Clanton – peaches and plums; and Ms. Butterworth’s Fresh Cut Flowers.

Greet these popular returning vendors: Evans Farms, K&S Farms – both with lots of everything; Boozer Farms – peaches and blueberries, Prattville Honey Farms, Nana’s Herbs and La Reunion – coffee, tea and pastries.

Also Brenda Scott with BB’s Breads, is back along with Cheeky Maiden Soap, Jennifer Bianca Pottery and newbie Jen Hall’s designer aprons.

CHEF SCHEDULE

June 25 — Personal Chef Angela Schmidt

July 9 – Chef Sonia Berteleone, Joe’s Italian Restaurant

July 16 — Chef Tom Bagby, Bottletree Café

July 23 — Chef Randall Baldwin, Dyrons Low Country Cuisine

July 30 — Chef Steve Walton, Sysco

August 6 – Chef Michael Lee, Mikey’s Grill

August 13 — Chef Haller Magee, Satterfields Restaurant

August 27 -— Chef Robert Kam, Ross Bridge Resort

September 10 — Chefs Clif and Maureen Holt, Little Savannah

September 17 — Chef Jon Gower, Ross Bridge Resort

Three open dates, July 2, August 20 and September 3 are yet to be scheduled.

Be sure to check online at: Helenamarketdays.com/ for the latest schedule of events each week.

Laura Brookhart can be reached by email at labro16@yahoo.com.