Coleen Speaks is used to cooking for a crowd—as the chef behind Hummingbird and PoshNosh catering, it’s part of her everyday life. But this weekend, she gets an opportunity to prepare a meal for an event dear to her heart: The Raleigh City Farm Harvest Dinner. This annual tradition is an outdoor feast held on its land on North Blount Street, which this year will enlist Speaks’ talents, along with produce from Infinity Hundred Farms, wines from Wine Authorities, seasonal beers from Fullsteam Brewery and ice cream from Two Roosters. Read on for Speaks’ take.
How did you get involved in the Harvest Dinner?
I have been a guest before, I bought a ticket to go a couple years ago and it was pretty spectacular, this al fresco dinner at the farm. Then about nine months ago they reached out to see if I’d do it, and I was honored! I said yes, of course. It’s a neighborhood farm for me, I’ve lived in Oakwood for 20 years and drive by it all the time.
Do you source any produce from the Raleigh City Farm?
Yes, we do source some of our produce from Infinity 100 Farms! We are using them for the meal, too, they’re providing all the root vegetables. I’m doing a root vegetable pot pie for one course, it’s a little bit New Orleans inspired, of course, I spent many years there—and then I’m doing a shrimp course, with shrimp from Locals Seafood, and a little green salad from the farm and a pork cheek dish. And last, but not least, is a collaboration with Two Roosters, we’re doing an ice cream sandwich!
Do you always use local businesses for your meals?
It’s so key to support small businesses! Being a small business is brutal, we all need to support each other in any way possible. Even morally, I’ll take anything! The more our community backs us, the more we can give back to the community, that’s money that’s being spent in town. That’s something I can do at Hummingbird and PoshNosh, I have 35 employees now and I consider that part of supporting local, just hiring people and keeping people employed.
What do you love about the farm?
Supporting community is the entire feel of the Raleigh City Farm. When I was there for one of my planning meetings, I saw a school bus full of middle schoolers in for a field trip. They were digging around, learning how things grow and inspiring kids to make healthy choices.
Are you excited for the dinner?
Yes! Anytime you’re able to eat outdoors, sharing plates of food, community-style, under the stars… and the City Farm does an amazing job of making it beautiful and nice.