Guest Post! SOJ Chef Demo 07.28.12

This week’s market chef demo post comes from Adrienne, who blogs over at Hippie Itch. Adrienne agreed to assist Chef Sam Baker at the South of the James farmers’ market this week while I was out of town. Read her recap below, then check out more at


Hi Vegology readers!

I have to tell you, I’ve got a thing for the show Chopped on the Food Network. It amazes me how quickly these Chefs can come up with a delicious, creative dish. They’re artists. They’re amazing.

This past Saturday Lauren gave me the chance to be her substitute at the SOJ Chef Demo. I watched a real-life episode of Chopped and smiled up a storm while I soaked it all in.

I learned SO much from Chef Sam Baker while watching him do his thing. While he cooked on the fly, he taught the visitors (and me) all they wanted to know about the dishes.

The morning started off with a summer salad. He began by collecting a variety of overly ripe tomatoes. He told me that these tomatoes are sweeter because of their ripeness and would work well with his other main ingredient.

Which was yellow and red watermelon.

Have you ever seen a twofer? This red watermelon was pretty funny looking. We got a kick out of it and so did the customers.

In a flash he chopped up the fruits and moved onto the sauce.

The sauce couldn’t have been better. It included: honey, blackberry fruit spread and FROG jam. The final touch was a few leaves of chopped up basil. The basil really helped tie the whole dish together.

In what felt like seconds, he finished the first dish then started the next. Juice from the first salad was poured into a pot and heated up along with more blackberry fruit spread and a couple pieces of cantaloupe. The sauce was cooked low and slow into a reduction.

He ladled the reduction over a couple of gluten-free butternut rice dumplings made by Roscabon’s Valley Delights and then plopped a fresh cube of cantaloupe on top. Voila! An appetizer.

It was said a couple times that the cantaloupe reduction would also be delicious over vanilla ice cream. I couldn’t agree more!

Did I mention that so far everything is Vegan? An added bonus.

With Chef Sam moving so fast through the dishes, I completely forgot to take any of the third dish! I’m so very sorry.

BUT it was quite similar to the first with only the dressing being the difference. It was a great example of how you can add variety into your cooking. If you have some leftover ingredients, you don’t have to make the same dish! This is totally something I needed to see. I often make the same favorites over and over and then I get tired of them.

So again, the main part of the salad included watermelon, cantaloupe and tomatoes. He then squeezed fresh lemon juice and poured it, as well as a little red wine vinegar, over the fruit. That’s it! The acidity from the lemon juice and vinegar toned down the sweetness from the fruit and as a result made a lovely, semi-sweet salad.

He started on the last and final dish by heating up a spinach version of the rice dumplings. After dumping them onto a plate he said he had changed his mind and threw them back in the pan. Another bout of creativity had hit him!

While the dumplings kept cooking, he stripped the skin from a very, very ripe orange tomato. Then he diced the remains and tossed them into a pot along with salt, pepper, yellow tomato, fresh basil, and a sweet pepper from Amy’s Garden that he ran over to get at the last second.


It was a fun and very tasty morning. It’s just so amazing what we can do with a couple of fresh ingredients and a little inspiration. Now that I’m thinking about it, I’ve also seen Lauren cook up a super tasty meal in a flash with no recipe, no direction. I’m so jealous of these two!

I’m not sure how much longer the SOJ Farmer’s Market will be open (I’m new to the area) but I hope to watch them in action a couple more times to learn as much as I can.

Thank you to:
Alfredo’s Beehive
Amy’s Garden
Empress Farm
Norma’s Produce
Pleitez Produce
Roscabon’s Valley Delights
Tomten Farm
Walnut Hill Farm


The South of the James Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday from 8 to noon, in Forest Hill Park, through December 1, 2012. Read more Chef Demo posts in the Market Chef section of Veg:ology.

2 thoughts on “Guest Post! SOJ Chef Demo 07.28.12

  1. SOJ Chef Demo « hippie itch

  2. SOJ Chef Demo | hippie itch

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