The busy holiday season is here, but then, it’s always the busy season at the Culinary Vegetable Institute.  A look back at the years’ events is simply mind-boggling.

Six Vegetable Showcase dinners highlighted the boundless potential for using seasonal vegetables from root to tip. Focusing on winter crops, potatoes, carrots, asparagus, squash and tomatoes, Chef Jamie and his imaginative team conjured dishes that introduced guests into the ultimate expression of each single vegetable by incorporating them into every course of the meal, from cocktails to dessert.

Asparagus Elements of Spring

Through our Uncorked series, we traveled the world of wines and spirits, beginning with Barolo varieties from the northern Italian region of Piedmont. “Rosé-Colored Glasses” was a passport to savoring the unique characteristics of 15 different rosé wines from all corners of the wine world. We also embarked on a tour of handcrafted wines from artisan estates in the South of France, paired with Chef Jamie’s preparations of Chef’s Garden root crops and cruciferous vegetables. An Uncorked lineup of Sake varieties introduced guests to the complexities of Japanese rice wines.

Guest chef, the culinary Olympian Ben Grupe of Elaia & Olio Restaurants, took over the Culinary Vegetable Institute kitchen for a pop-up dinner.

Our three Earth to Table™ events featured Chef Michael Nowak of Cleveland’s The Black Pig, who conjured smoke and flames to prepare vegetables using multiple fire-cooked methods including a whole roasted pig. The Gammie family from nearby Quarry Hill Orchards provided abundant fruit for a family-style smorgasbord of peaches, nectarines, brambles, early pears and summer apples plucked ripe from their orchard. Cookbook authors and chefs Cara Mangini and Sarah Black tag-teamed to create a harvest time meal featuring recipes from their award-winning cookbooks The Vegetable Butcher and One Dough, Ten Breads.

Six adventurous chefs became honorary Culinary Vegetable Institute kitchen team members during their stints as Chef for a Day. The program is an immersive experience that puts participants right in the middle of the action, helping prepare for the evening’s event.

As part of our Lecture Series, we welcomed OSU entomologist Dr. Jim Tew for an informative evening discussing the integral role that honeybees play in agriculture. Dr. Tew visited following the installation of 45 new bee boxes on the CVI grounds, containing 450,000 bees. Chef Jamie and the team prepared the evening’s menu utilizing CVI honey and flowers pollinated by the hardest-working members of our team.

We celebrated another successful Roots culinary conference and brought together nearly 300 chefs and other food industry professionals for two packed days of education, networking, problem-solving, camaraderie, incredible food and enormous amounts of fun. Keynote speaker Andrew Zimmern encouraged and inspired us all about the vital role everyone one of us plays in the future of food.

Finally, we served three sold-out evenings of our 4th annual Twelve Days of Christmas dinner, an awe-inducing display of culinary artistry and imagination as Chefs Jamie, Dario and Tristan interpreted the lyrics of the popular holiday song into fantastical, whimsical plates.

As if that’s not enough, we hosted 25 private dinners, seven teambuilding events, three weddings, a romantic candlelit Valentine’s Day dinner and two elegant tea parties celebrating Mother’s Day and Christmas. We feel blessed to have welcomed and served 1,093 guests over the past year and, if you were one of them, we thank you and sincerely hope you’ll return again in 2019.

It doesn’t have to be a holiday for a special occasion. For us, every occasion is a special one. Blessings to you for a happy and healthy New Year from root to tip!