Patowmack Farms Chef Debuts in Farmer’s Market Chef Series

Christopher Edwards Offers ‘Smoky’ Twist in New Potato Salad

dianasmarketstoryThe pots and pans were smoking, literally, infusing the surrounding air and luring market goers to the Chef Series Presentation at Falls Church’s Farmer’s Market like bees to honey this past Saturday morning.


Christopher Edwards Offers ‘Smoky’ Twist in New Potato Salad



CHEF CHRISTOPHER EDWARDS (right) from The Restaurant at Patowack Farm spoons a yogurt froth on top of the fresh vegetables artistically arranged by his assistant during the Falls Church Farmer’s Market Chef Series live-cooking presentation last Saturday. (Photo: News-Press)


The pots and pans were smoking, literally, infusing the surrounding air and luring market goers to the Chef Series Presentation at Falls Church’s Farmer’s Market like bees to honey this past Saturday morning.

Chef Christopher Edwards of The Restaurant at Patowmack Farms in Lovettsville, Virginia (it’s just outside of Leesburg) was busy making his Patowmack Farm New Potato Salad with marinated squash and whipped yogurt.

The smoke came from the hay in the bottom of the large stockpot. Not just any grass, according to Chef Edwards, this particular hay is called “Timothy Hay” and can be found, according to our informative chef, at most pet food stores. It is used as feed for Guinea pigs.boxstory

And what we humans apparently have been missing is the sweet taste of hay and the flavor it imbues when used to smoke and cook, in this case, potatoes.

Other ingredients were more conveniently located, found right down the lane at the various Farmers Market stalls. “All the ingredients I used in my demonstration were from the Falls Church market. The potatoes and squash were from Penn Farm, the basil from Tree and Leaf, sorrel and arugula from Endless Summer Harvest and the yogurt was from Clear Springs Dairy,” said Edwards.

People accepted his odd-seeming hay smoked recipe. Of course, his credibility is strong, not only due to his 20 years of culinary experience, but also backed by Washingtonian Magazine which named The Restaurant at Patowmack Farms to its 100 Best Restaurants 2010 list. Known for growing its own food on site, the restaurant’s motto is “From our farm to your table.”

“I believe that eating local is important in many ways. It is a traditional way of survival and contributes to the community by supporting the economic foundation of society,” said Edwards.

Edwards drew the crowds, the smell being hard to resist and the concept of smoking hay new and interesting to on-lookers. “By demonstrating something at the market we have the opportunity to share a new technique, a new ingredient and a new perspective of what people can do with the market’s offerings,” said Edwards.

The small plates Chef Edwards presented were lovely little tastings. Fresh yellow and green squash julienned sat in a colorful mound, surrounded by deep green argula. The dish was then topped with small chunks of smoky potato, flecked with chili and salt. Finished with a fresh-from-the-market yogurt froth and bits of basil, the dish takes on a depth of its own.

As for the recipe, those potatoes can prove tricky. “I had to wait a little too long for the potatoes to cook. People were already there, waiting eagerly for the tasting. I considered doing the TV trick by having everything ready beforehand, but ultimately decided against it. In my eyes, the whole point of a cooking demonstration is to share the tricks and the troubles you might face when attempting to recreate your favorite recipe,” said Edwards.

Although the crowd enthusiastically awaited those first samples, they also understood the issue with slow cooking potatoes. It was something they may encounter in their own kitchens. The short delay actually made the experience feel real and organic, perfect for the atmosphere of the market.

Interacting with people, answering questions and listening to comments were some of Chef Edwards favorite parts of the presentation. “I enjoyed the positive feedback we received and also the opportunity to see what other farms are growing at this time of year,” said Edwards.

The Falls Church market also allows people an opportunity to see that the best dining is not only found in D.C. “Northern Virginia restaurants have really put some pressure on the downtown dining spots. In my eyes, our area has more and better options for eating out than D.C…and cheaper parking,” said Edwards.

Finding Falls Church to “have a small town feel, with an international flair,” Edwards said he would like to do another presentation at the all volunteer Falls Church Farmers Market Chef Series.

Even with a few little surprises along the way, the chef was pleased with the presentation. “I wouldn’t change a thing. I enjoyed the spontaneity and the interaction – that is my world! It’s all about the grande cuisine,” said Edwards.

Cheers to that.

• Next up for the Falls Church Farmer’s Market Chef Series is Leland Atkinson of Sinplicity Catering on Saturday, June 26 from 9 – 11 a.m. The market is located in the F.C. City Hall parking lot at 300 Park Avenue.