Harwigs/L’Apogee caters 2 sustainable dinners in Steamboat | SteamboatToday.com

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Harwigs/L’Apogee caters 2 sustainable dinners in Steamboat

Harwigs/L’Apogee owner J.J. Jenny, right, and manager and sommelier Mike Lang will play an instrumental role in a few farm-to-table benefits including a fundraiser Saturday at the South Routt Nursery and the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council’s sustainability dinner Oct. 2.





Harwigs/L'Apogee owner J.J. Jenny, right, and manager and sommelier Mike Lang will play an instrumental role in a few farm-to-table benefits including a fundraiser Saturday at the South Routt Nursery and the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council's sustainability dinner Oct. 2.
John F. Russell

— To Yampa Valley native J.J. Jenny, there's nothing quite like plucking a carrot from a backyard garden and biting into it, dirt and all.

As a chef and the owner of local restaurant Harwigs/L'Apogee, he has the same passion for sampling and cooking with the freshest of local ingredients.

"Instead of taking something and making some super-reduced sauce out of it, you're appreciating it," Jenny said about using Yampa Valley products. "You're appreciating the raw peach for being a raw peach."

Fresh flavors and locally grown products will be on his mind for the next few weeks as he gears up to cater two local fundraisers with farm-to-table themes.

The first is a fundraiser Saturday at South Routt Nursery. The family-style meal will benefit South Routt second-grader Abby Voorhis, who recently was diagnosed with leukemia, as well as the Flat Tops 4-H Club.

That event is full and there is a waiting list. Tickets are $39.

The following weekend will be a new menu with a new theme, but like the South Routt event, almost all of the products will be Yampa Valley or Colorado-grown.

That event is the Yampa Valley Sustainability Council's sustainability dinner Oct. 2. It's a plated event at Harwigs that costs $65 a person.

Tracy Zuschlag, South Routt Nursery co-owner, said this is the second year of the South Routt dinner but the first year that Harwigs has been involved with collecting, planning and preparing the meal.

"I really want to have that conversation in our valley and in our community about where our food comes from," said Zuschlag, who grows much of the produce used in this weekend's meal in the nursery greenhouses. "We used to grow our own food in our valley to eat. I know there's a lot of good food in our valley, and I think we can do it."

On Thursday at Harwigs, Jenny and manager and sommelier Mike Lang admired a colorful array of vegetables, fruits, dairy and meat products in the otherwise empty kitchen.

From local honey to Colorado-made wine, both dinners will be almost exclusively made from the products donated from organizations like Rockin' J Ranch, Elkstone Farms, Riva Ranch and Yampa Valley Beef.

Both menus are simple, autumnal and heavy on comfort food.

"We want to showcase and focus on the food itself," Jenny said.s

The menus include sirloin sliders, pumpkin bisque, steak and cobbler made with Palisade peaches.

The Sustainability Council dinner will focus more on chicken and duck.

Lang said cooking and preparing food from your backyard is what chefs are "born to do."

"In the Yampa Valley, a lot of restaurants are taking this on," he said. "This is the path we'll all be taking very soon."

"The less time you spend traveling with all of your ingredients, the better it is for everyone."

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@SteamboatToday.com