One of the most creative and community-involved events, the 1st Annual Moonbeam Harvest Festival to benefit Clayton Early Learning (CLC) was a magnificent success. In fact, this event was so well-received that it sold out two weeks in advance – not bad for a 1st event!
Clayton Early Learning is Colorado’s leading catalyst in providing and collaborating with others to improve early care and education to ensure optimal development during the critical prenatal-to-5 period for all children, especially those of limited opportunity. The unique approach of Clayton Early Learning has proved successful in closing achievement gaps for children who need it most.
Spearheaded by Troy Atherton Guard from TAG restaurant group and held at the Clayton Early Learning campus, the formal event involved Clayton Early Learning’s community garden and fifteen top local chefs around Colorado. Participating chefs include:
- Daniel Asher, Root Down & Linger
- Brandon Biederman, Ace & Steuben’s
- Mark Dym, Marco’s Coal Fired Pizza
- Jamey Fader, Lola & Big Red F
- Noah French, Sugarmill
- Troy Guard, TAG Restaurant Group
- Jennifer Jasinski, Rioja, Bistro Vendome, Euclid Hall
- Kelly Liken, Restaurant Kelly Liken (Vail)
- Shaun Motoda, TAG Raw Bar
- Jeff Osaka, Twelve Restaurant
- Scott Parker, Session Kitchen
- Paul Reilly, Beast & Bottle
- Clint Wangsnes, Tamayo, al Lado, Zengo
- Gregory Shain, Clayton Early Learning
- Tyler Wiard, Elway’s
Creativity was the key to the culinary creations. You can even say it had a hint of Iron Chef but without the competition and intensity. Each chef was assigned a vegetable or fruit grown from CLC’s community garden and using the assigned ingredient, each created an appetizer-size dish for the attendees to savor. Gregory Shain was given yellow bell pepper which he turned into a sauce drizzled over lemon-lime Alaskan salmon. Jennifer Jasinski used the summer squash as the stuffing of a ravioli paired with chicken confit and sheep’s milk ricotta. Clint Wangsness paired his watermelon with pork belly which was cooked perfectly: crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. Noah French, the only one that created a delectable dessert, created a strawberry overload of Strawberry ice cream mixed with strawberry soda and popping strawberry bobba over fresh-grown strawberries. Surprisingly, it was the perfect amount of strawberry flavor.
All chefs were present at the event making the event.
For the guests, community-feel was the game. Underneath the brilliant moon, food stations and bars were lined up side by side encircling the event. Community tables were placed within the circle where guests could grab plates of food to bring back to tables, talk to the chefs (if they had the time!) and eat among new friends and acquaintances. Just north of the circle was the community garden housing healthy zucchini, thai basil, tomatoes, carrots and more. When it came to drinks, everyone was given a Ball jar when they arrived at the event, which was used to house mix drinks, wine, soda or water. After the event, guests were asked to return the jar so it could be reused for other events or purposes.
Event “servers” were almost all volunteers and several of them were mothers of CLC’s students.
The Moonbeam Harvest festival was such a treat that anyone who couldn’t make it this year needs to stay tuned for next year!