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Table Talk: Local is the word at Farm to Chef competition

More than 30 Baltimore chefs have been lined up for the third annual Farm to Chef culinary competition. Produced by the American Institute of Wine & Food Baltimore chapter, the event partners chefs with local farms to create recipes using locally grown ingredients.

Formerly known as the Farmer and the Chef, the event is moving this year to the American Visionary Art Museum, where it will take place on Sept. 24 at 6:30 p.m.

Farm to Chef is a benefit for Days of Taste, an AIWF program that brings together farmers, chefs and community volunteers to introduce school children to the basic tenets of taste and to teach them how food travels from farm to table.

Among the chefs participating are Winston Blick, Clementine; Bill Buszinski, Mr. Rain's Fun House; Therese Harding, Classic Catering People; Neal Langermann, Langermann's; and Nona Nielson-Parker, Atwater's

For more information, call 410-244-0044 or go to farmtochef.com.

Harbor East openings Harbor East's newest restaurant is Ouzo Bay: Greek Kouzina. The restaurant opened last Friday with minimal publicity but still had crowds pouring in. The menu features fresh fish flown in from the Mediterranean, grass-fed lamb and beef and homemade Greek favorites.

We'll have more on Ouzo Bay in an upcoming column, but if the photographs co-owner Alex Smith sent over are any indication, Ouzo Bay is going to knock some socks off.

Ouzo Bay is at 1006 Lancaster St. For more information, call 443-708-5818.

A few blocks away, Fleet Street Kitchen will open on Sept. 20. The 120-seat contemporary American restaurant is the third restaurant from the Bagby Restaurant Group, following Bagby Pizza Company (October 2009) and Ten Ten (November 2011). The restaurant's executive chef is Baltimore native Chris Becker, formerly of the Wine Market. The team also includes Omar Semidey, chef de cuisine, Bettina Perry, executive pastry chef; Nico Bustos, general manager and Tim Riley, beverage director.

Becker and Semidey are the featured chefs when the National Aquarium resumes its Fresh Thoughts series on Sept. 25. Fresh Thoughts: A Sustainable Seafood Series features educational cooking demonstrations by well-known local chefs. The evening will conclude with a stroll through the Aquarium. Tickets are $99. For information call 410-576-3869 or go to aqua.org

Casting call Since the France-Merrick Performing Arts Center, home of the Hippodrome Theatre, opened its doors in 2004, Spectrum Catering has been the exclusive caterer for the facility.

The arts venue is opening its doors to other caterers, according to France-Merrick president Jeff Daniel.

The change, said Daniel, has come about partly because of what he described as a quirk in Baltimore's social scene. "More so than other cities, Baltimore is a caterer-driven community," said Daniel. People tend to use the same caterers they always have, Daniel explained, rather than take a chance with an unfamiliar caterer, even at a desirable venue like the Hippodrome.

Classic Catering People, Chef's Expressions and Zeffert & Gold Catering and Event Planning have already joined the facility's approved caterers list, and Daniel said the facility is soliciting more applications. Spectrum will remain a catering option and continue to operate the Hipp Cafe.

The arts center's lobby areas, auditorium and stage are all available for catered events. "Really, the best views of the Hippodrome are from the stage," Daniel said.

For information about catering and events at The Hippodrome, call 410-837-7410.

Country gardening The Manor Tavern (15819 Old York Road, Monkton, 410-771-8155, themanortavern.com) is launching a three-part class for home gardeners. Field to Fork — A Tasty Education will begin on Saturday with a trip to Baltimorganic Farm, which is presenting the class in conjunction with the restaurant and Harford County Master Gardeners.

At the next two meetings, held on the second Saturday of October and November, participants will learn how to build raised beds and use cold frames.

The cost for the three-part class is $75, which includes tastings in September and October and lunch at the final meeting. For information call the restaurant.

richard.gorelick@baltsun.com


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