To benefit the Albertville Farmers Market, the fourth annual Farm to Table Dinner celebrated local farmers with a meal by Local Joe’s.

The event’s secret menu, which was developed by the creative minds of Local Joe’s chefs JP Pendergrass and Ben Keener, revealed a southern inspired meal many in attendance described as “the best Farm to Table Dinner yet.”

“The meal was definitely a collaboration,” Pendergrass said.

“We bounced ideas off each other,” Keener said. “JP’s got a lot of tricks in his bag, and I’ve got a few of my own. And, they blend together well.”

To open the evening, the Albertville High School culinary arts students brought hors d’oeuvres that played off of the classic southern delight, chicken and waffles. The single bite course was a tiny waffle topped with a skewer made from an injector filled with syrup that held a pickled watermelon and jalapeno, and the flavors were “spot on.”

The entire meal was paired with a selection of delicious wines from Albertville’s Jules J. Berta Vineyards & Winery. The wines ranged from a delicate white wine to a fruity red, and everyone seemed to ask for additional pours.

In another pairing, live music by Jeff and Beverly Walker and their band played throughout the evening.

For the starter course, there was an heirloom tomato carpaccio that

featured a goat cheese tart. It had a smoky flavor added to give the tomatoes a unique taste, and when paired with Berta’s light, white wine, it was a “moment to savor.”

Next, a delicate summer ribbon salad. It was filled with carrots, squash, arugula and herbs, a slight citrus flavor and topped with an edible flower.

The entrée featured an extra tender, smoked pork loin that was dressed with muscadine barbecue sauce, accompanied by an okra hoe cake and topped with grilled peaches. The table was filled with guests expressing how flavorful the course was.

To close, the dessert course was a mix of classics with a new twist. It was a sweet corn panna cotta that was highlighted by blueberries, cornmeal shortbread, bacon brittle and a scoop of homemade blueberry ice cream. This “sweet” course was one all in attendance won’t soon forget.

Pendergrass and Keener both agreed the AHS culinary students were impressive during the evening’s service. They said they only had to show the students one time how to do something, and they excelled without any reminder.

“I think it went awesome,” Keener said. “The kids were self-starters. You showed them one time, and they came behind you ready and willing. They were so helpful, and they were on it.”

Kasey Culbert, marketing officer at Citizens Bank & Trust, helped with the dinner event. Since it was the fourth year for the event, she said running the event has become easier each year.

“We’ve learned how to improve it over the years,” Culbert said. “It’s so wonderful to see our community come together downtown and enjoy a meal together. We had perfect weather, and you can’t beat that. It’s wonderful to be from here and have a good time.”

Albertville Mayor Tracy Honea was impressed with the meal.

“Everybody enjoyed it,” Honea said. “It was awesome. The chefs did a great job.”

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