Square Mile Community Development’s 3rd Annual (urban) Farm to Table Dinner- Amarillo, TX

The greenery of the urban garden nestled into the back of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Amarillo rivals the gardens one finds in a botanical. You are invited into a world of growth and possibility with beautiful flowers and buds of new peppers being grown for the season. It was a delight to have a walk around their garden before the dinner started.

The Square Mile is a non-profit that seeks to combat food insecurity, promote economic development, and support under-resourced communities in the panhandle. Not only do they help teach kids and adults what growing a garden looks like, but they support refugee groups, and they actively help local business owners start food trucks or restaurants including Martha’s Minis, and the chef of the evening. Chef Paul Leal of Mi Gente Latin Cravings graduated with classical French training and makes food that marinates the culinary of French cuisine and the vibrating punch of Latin dishes. He and his team of well-mannered and professional young adults made you feel like you were transported to a five-star restaurant you see in the New York, Hamptons. Though, this writer was grateful to experience such cuisine in a much more relaxed and Texas hospitality driven environment.

It was a fun evening conversing with local business owners. The drinks were hand-crafted by local chefs who created a delicious mint lemonade, a colorful Sangria, and a twisted tea with a kick. This was a real treat of an event because I got to see locally sourced food used and know the producers it came from. This includes strawberries provided by local food producer, and good friend of the Ogallala Commons community, Markus Schick of Schick’s Strawberry Patch. The shrimp for the evening may not have been caught locally, but the company that procured the shrimp was based out of Amarillo and connected to fishers on the west coast. The Square Mile works hard all year long to build relationships between local producers, chefs, and consumers.

I could not believe the friendly atmosphere, beautiful decorations, and wonderful garden to explore outside the dining room. Every part of this event was already a success and we had not even got to the dishes. If you have never attended a 5-course-meal, here is what to keep in mind. Everything is well spaced out for your optimal enjoyment, and despite the small portions I encourage you NOT to eat too much beforehand. This benefit dinner to raise money for The Square Mile and all its programs was a fantastic time to see how blessed our area is with local ranchers and farmers. 

For about a year now I have visited and talked to many of the ranchers and farmers who provided the ingredients for Chef Paul’s courses today. I had a great time reflecting while enjoying these aesthetically pleasing and deliciously unique dishes created by someone in our area. I got to see what happens when all the pieces of what a local foodshed function as one from producer, restaurant, chef, and customer. The Square Mile provides so much to the community of Amarillo and the surrounding towns. Their passion for people to create connections in food and business changes the landscape of life in the Texas Panhandle.

I encourage everyone to try and attend one of The Square Mile’s Urban Dinner in the future. It is a wonderful event that brings farmers, and customers together. 

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