Working like a charmer today

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES -- Culinary Institute of America student Mike Shethar came up with a label for himself, one he plans to live up to when participating in the Port Angeles Farmers Market today.

"What do you get when you cross a chef with a farmer? A charmer," he said, tongue firmly in cheek.

On his cell phone, pedaling his bicycle back to work at Nash's Organic Produce on Thursday afternoon, Shethar explained himself.

He's four weeks into a four-month internship on Nash's farm, harvesting carrots and beets.

It's part of his education at the Culinary Institute in the Napa Valley city of St. Helena, Calif., where such outside work is required.

And it's what led to his forthcoming performance at the market, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Fourth and Peabody streets in Port Angeles.

"I'll be doing cooking demonstrations every hour and cutting vegetables, letting people try them, showing them how to treat a rutabaga and how to cut a sunchoke," Shethar said.

"It's equal parts cooking education and flirtation. That's a recipe for success."

Triticale

Also today, he will highlight one of Nash's newer products: triticale, a grain that's a cross between wheat and rye.

It's a high-protein, vitamin- and mineral-rich food, said Kia Armstrong, Nash's outreach coordinator.

Triticale should be soaked overnight and then cooked like rice until fluffy and tender, Shethar said, adding that its flavor goes well with winter vegetables.

At the same time, Shethar realizes that some food shoppers find beets bewildering and sunchokes less than seductive.

So the chef, 28, said his life mission is to demonstrate "how easy good food is" and to share the joy of "recession-proof eating."

Shethar found out about Nash's Organic Produce last year when owner Nash Huber won the American Farmland Trust's Steward of the Land award.

"I was drawn to intern at a farm," he said, "because I think it is so important to really understand where food comes from and where all the magic that happens in the kitchen actually begins."

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-681-2391 or at diane.urbani@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: February 07. 2009 4:45AM
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