Last Call for Tickets: Nearly Sold Out BFM Community Dinner is Just Around the Corner; Chef Duarte Shares Menu

By Connect-Bridgeport Staff on May 05, 2019

Bridgeport Farmers Market representatives say it's last call for tickets to the May 16 Community Dinner at Bridgeport Conference Center. The multi-faceted menu will feature specialties created by market vendors, all using ingredients which can be found at at the market.

Bridgeport Conference Center will be making chicken confit - featuring polenta cake, pickled ramps, chicken jus - along with pickled deviled eggs, featuring bacon and sweet pickles. Mia Margherita will offer pasta fagioli and morel mushroom bruschetta, an appetizer crafted from sweet pea mascarpone, arugula and mint salad topped with truffled honey. Local providers include Vegetable Garden, Shipley's Forest Farm, Sweet Wind Farms, Sunny Hollow Farms and Radabaugh Farm.

Both culinary teams are under the direction of Shawn Duarte, who has made a name for himself as a talented chef.

The Bridgeport native has been with the Charles Pointe Hospitality Division (CP Hospitality) since June 2017, starting as an executive chef at Mia Margherita. From there, he has often held dual roles, transitioning between the pizzeria and the adjacent Bridgeport Conference Center, both of which fall under the umbrella of CP Hospitality. He currently holds the title of CP Hospitality Executive Chef.

In addition to a turn at the Greenbrier Resort, Duarte has held positions at Boca Bay Pass Club in Gasparilla Island, Fla., Nick and Rudy’s, in Nashville, Tenn., Sea Pines Country Club and the Marriott Beach and Gold Resort, both at Hilton Head Island, S.C., as well as the Piedmont Driving Club in Atlanta.

Bridgeport Farmers Market has grown to become a well-known venue where area residents can purchase fresh, local produce, flowers, eggs, meats and poultry, as well as homemade breads and sweets and hand-crafted artisan wares. In May, the operation will shift to the market’s outdoor location where market goers can browse dozens of vendor tents, finding just about anything their hearts desire.

To fund the popular farmers market, a Wild, Wonderful Table dinner – featuring a farm-to-table cuisine – is held in early-autumn in an area outdoor rural setting. That dinner will continue this year, but the market is also bringing back another traditional fundraising dinner - actually, a series of dinners - the first to be held May 16.

“This is something we used to do prior to the Wild, Wonderful Table and we’re bringing it back to raise additional funds for the market,” said Scott Duarte of the Bridgeport Farmers Market board of directors. “It will be held at Bridgeport Conference Center, but instead of the conference center doing all the food, we’ve invited different chefs from the market to each have a station and feature a dish made of local products that can be found at the market.”

Featured chefs are Cody Thrasher of Cody’s/Hashbrowns and New Grounds, Geoff Kraus of Thyme Bistro, Brittany Poth-Lesmann and Patrick Lesmann of Rural Roots, LLC and Shawn Duarte of Bridgeport Conference Center/Mia Margherita.

Heather Leeson of Artisan Breads will provide fresh-baked bread and Heather Leeson and Kaycee and Frank Crislip of My Little Cupcake will provide a special dessert. A local brewery will be on hand with its brews available for sampling.

An open bar will be available and local musician John Posey will provide entertainment. Everything from food to drink to décor will feature a component of the market.

"The event is shaping up to be a very unique heritage based culinary showcase involving many members of the Bridgeport Farmers Market," Scott Duarte said. "We’ve hosted community dinners in the past. However, this will be a first involving multiple vendors of the market to pull together a true community event in support of the market. I think it will provide a nice sneak preview of what’s to come with the 2019 season at Charles Pointe."

Tickets are $25 each and can be purchased - while supplies last - through the Bridgeport Farmers Market Web site HERE.

The May 16 fundraising dinner at Bridgeport Conference Center is the first dinner of its kind in 2019, but there will be more.

Debbie Workman of the BFM board of directors said the dinner series – as well as the Sept. 21 Wild, Wonderful Table event - play important roles in supporting the market.

“The Wild, Wonderful Table is our major fundraiser and has a high price point for a reason,” she said. “We really also wanted to do a community dinner in the spring to showcase our vendors. It has a lower price point, so more people can come experience a farm-to-table dinner event, showcasing not only our market chefs, but also our farmers, bakers and other vendors as they are available.” Tickets are limited for the May 16 dinner, so folks are encouraged to purchase as soon as possible.

Bridgeport Farmers Market looks forward to the debut of the outdoor season March 16. For more information, visit the Bridgeport Farmers Market Web site HERE.