Ask the Chef review

Photo: Ryan Woodham

Martinique Mccrory

At 12 p.m. last Thursday, the weather was warm, the breeze was soft and gentle and the birds chirped musically at the Garden of the Coastal Plain as Chef Kevin Case‘s meals were served to attendees.

Frequenters of The Garden’s Lunch and Learn series gathered amongst the flowers of the venue to listen to Chef Kevin Case’s cooking advice and dine on the lunch he prepared. That day, Case served a carefully plated grilled pork tenderloin with roasted purple sweet potato, grilled Vidalia onions and rainbow carrots — all fresh from Bulloch County’s local farmers market and seasoned with herbs.

“We have an herb garden where we grow all our own herbs for catering,” Kevin Case, executive chef at Georgia Southern Catering, said.

Case considers Statesboro to be his home. He moved to the city at the age of eight and graduated from Statesboro High School. While interning with the Citadel’s catering department opened doors for Case as a chef in South Carolina restaurants, Case eventually found his way back to home and back to university catering.

“University catering is where my heart is,” Case said.

After a brief introduction into his history, Case talked about why buying locally produced food is so important and what is missing at fast food vendors and chain grocery stores that can be found at the farmers market and local restaurants.

“You’ve got to have the dedication and passion for the food. You’ve got to have the passion for quality,” Case said.

Going to Walmart for groceries or Cookout for dinner may be quick and easy, but it’s a missed opportunity to experience the health, economic and taste benefits of local produce, Case said.

“It’s full of flavor and there are more nutrients in locally grown food,” Case said.

Fruits and vegetables are picked earlier than they are ready for chain stores in order for them to last longer through delivery, which means they are not as flavorful as they could be. The produce that can be found at the farmers market is picked ripe and in-season, providing fresh ingredients to any meal.

“Farmers take pride in their food,” Case said.

He wrapped up his lecture while attendees of the event dined on dessert — a spice cornmeal pound cake topped with fresh strawberries also purchased at a local market. His advice to those planning to head to the farmers market for the first time was go to the market and forget recipes. Instead, have fun with the available ingredients.