By Natalie Lariccia

Demonstrations at farmers’ markets are new events

The classes are meant to promote healthful eating using local produce.

YOUNGSTOWN — A small crowd gathered around a table at the Northside Farmers Market recently to observe Clint Kifolo create berry gazpacho — a colorful and chunky cold soup.

Kifolo, Youngstown State University’s executive chef, hovered over a large metal bowl, mashing plump strawberries, ripe blueberries, crisp cucumber slices and farm-fresh tomatoes together until they melded, forming a conglomeration of aromatic fruits and vegetables.

Kifolo added in a sprinkling of seasonings, including sea salt, cracked black pepper, cumin and honey, before sharing small samples of the frothy and fragrant soup to the eagerly awaiting Northside shoppers.

Rave reviews

“It’s fabulous. Who would have thought that strawberries, blueberries and tomatoes would go together,” said Debora Weaver of Youngstown.

“It’s delicious. It’s a great way to combine things that I wouldn’t normally put together. This is yummy,” said Amber Foster of Poland.

This was exactly the reaction that Kifolo, members of the Alliance for Congregational Transformation Influencing Our Neighborhoods (ACTION), Grow Youngstown and the Northside Farmers Market wanted to hear.

Kifolo was the featured chef of the food preparation demonstration class at the Northside market. The ingredients for the soup cost about $7, and nearly 95 percent of the ingredients came from vendors at that day’s market, he said.

The food preparation demonstration classes are a new, regular event on select Tuesdays at the B&O Station at 530 Mahoning Ave. during the Downtown Farmers Market and on designated Saturdays at the Northside Farmers Market. All classes feature recipes made primarily from local, healthful produce and other foods available at the market.

Sheila Klasovsky, ACTION health and wellness committee chairwoman, said the classes are intended to inspire market patrons to try the healthful recipes at home.

“I hope this [the classes] encourage people to buy local food. This is a way to support the local family, using healthful foods that taste good,” she said.

Free cooking utensils are available for those in need, and the market’s new ability to accept the Ohio Direction Card opens doors to providing more people healthy food options, Klasovsky said. The Ohio Direction Card replaces food stamp coupons, and qualified recipients can use the card to purchase groceries at participating stores.

The food preparation classes include a rotating featured guest chef, including local chefs, caterers, hobby cooks and dietitians. Future classes are likely to include a child-friendly cooking theme and demonstrations featuring beef and poultry from local beef and poultry farmers.

About the classes

The market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays at 1105 Elm St., near Wick Park on the city’s North Side and from 1:30 to 5 p.m. Tuesdays at West Federal Plaza in Downtown Youngstown. Started in 2003, the market is open during its designated days through September, when the summer growing season ends.

The market partnered with ACTION and Grow Youngstown to offer the food demonstration classes as a community action service. ACTION is a community group that aims to bring congregations and faith groups together to improve and enhance the greater Youngstown area. Grow Youngstown is an organization that advocates sustainable agricultural practices and promotes the consumption of agriculture from within 60 miles of the city.

Berry Gazpacho

Serves 6

1 quart berries (strawberry, blueberries, raspberries etc.)

1 cucumber (peeled, seeded and sliced)

1 large tomato (diced)

3 cloves of garlic (minced) or 2 teaspoons of granulated garlic

1/4 sweet onion (diced)

1/2 red bell pepper (diced)

3 tablespoons vinegar (may substitute lemon or lime juice)

1/4 cup honey (can substitute any sweetener of preference)

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon mild chili powder

Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, combine all cut vegetables and berries. Add vinegar, honey, and spices, mix well and let set in refrigerator 20 minutes to develop flavors. Serve chilled with an optional dollop of plain yogurt.

If a less chunky soup is desired, blend all ingredients in a food processor until desired consistency is achieved.

Spice the dish up by adding any fresh herb of your liking (basil, mint, oregano, etc.)

Add a jalapeno or chipotle pepper for spicier soup.

Source: Clint Kifolo, Youngstown State University executive chef

p>Food Preparation Demonstration Classes at the Downtown and Northside Farmers’ Market are:

Saturday: Northside Farmers’ Market.

Aug. 8: Northside Farmers’ Market.

Aug. 18: B&O Station, 530 Mahoning Ave./Downtown Farmers’ Market.

Aug. 29: Northside Farmers’ Market.

Sept. 5: Northside Farmers’ Market.

Sept. 12: Grey to Green Festival at Wick Park.

Sept. 22: B&O Station, 530 Mahoning Ave./ Downtown Farmers’ Market.

Times for food preparation demonstration classes will vary, but they will usually be between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. for Saturday sessions. More specific information will be provided during the season.

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