Chefs teach global cuisine at the Columbia City Farmers Market

Surrounded by the hustle and bustle of farmers meeting shoppers, neighbors greeting each other, and the sizzle of the grill, Michelle Silver, owner of Silver Table Cooking School, is leading an attentive audience through the chopping of fresh ingredients, just picked from the farm. It's the first chef demonstration of the season at the Columbia City Farmers Market and Michelle, the Kids Chef, is teaching children how to make Lettuce Wraps with Veggies and Chicken.

"These wraps are perfect for a healthy snack or meal and a great way for you to enjoy eating vegetables," She explained.

Silver oversees a girl cutting a carrot while mixing homemade creamy ranch-style dressing into a colorful blend of red tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh bread, cheese and herbs.

"You do not need to buy salad dressing," she insisted. "It is fun to make and so easy!"

The children are now gathered all around the table, eager to wrap up the savory combination into some heirloom lettuce leaves from Tolt Family Farm. Their big smiles tell the story and pleased parents look on, always eager for a new way to provide nutrition in fun packages while learning how easy and economical it is to bring taste to family meals.

Michelle loves to teach this way. The light tapping of her knife on the cutting board, and her rich laughter rings above the little voices full of questions. She is right at home teaching kids. Silver does it for a living with her cooking school, six children at a time, in her home kitchen in West Seattle.

Market chef volunteers pass out samples of the lettuce wraps to the crowd ready for a taste. The experience is just one way the Columbia City Farmers Market is educating shoppers on the benefits of good food and good taste.

"We are not only striving to bring the farmers to the community but also to involve the community in the market," noted Karen Kinney, vice president of the Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance and godmother of the Columbia City Farmers Market. "It is important that the market reflects the diversity of the Rainier Valley."

This year's theme for the farmers market chef and tasting program is world cuisine. Its mission is to bring small and large restaurants to showcase the products found on the purveyors' tables and to provide shoppers with new ideas, ethnically and seasonally.

The chef demonstration and tasting program brings these sometimes shy cooks to the forefront while providing a mixture of the celebrity chefs, local chefs and cooks of the local restaurants along with traveling cook book authors about food, sustainability and seasonality for market patrons. Awash Ethiopian Restaurant has agreed to be our next demonstration on July 26 at 4 p.m., one hour after the farmers market opens.

The program, operating in each of the six farmers markets of the Seattle Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance, is also designed to help chefs, farmers and shoppers together to make the best of what is in season throughout the growing season.

"We ask the chefs to provide a written recipe that will feed four servings for under $10," said Chris Curtis, president of the alliance, who began inviting chefs over 15 years ago to share their ideas with market shoppers more than 15 years ago. "It is fun for them to come and be inspired by the products each week."

When the demo is over and Michelle and I are cleaning up and making new plans. We will be part of the scene at this year's Bite of Seattle. The Family Fun Zone stage is the place, and at 2 p.m. on both July 21 and 22 we will be cooking with the kids.

Our theme is farm fresh fruits and vegetables in the round with three tables of spontaneous culinary play. Michelle is providing Southern ideas; I am teaching Asian stir-fry; and the third table will be a fusion of color and nutrition. Kids from the audience will be our volunteer "youth" chefs. It is a show not to miss.

Naomi Kakiuchi, RD, CD, CCP is president of NuCulinary (, a registered dietitian and certified culinary professional. She is also a professional speaker, culinary educator and consultant to catering and food service operations. She may be reached via[[In-content Ad]]