Local foods leaders earn awards
March 13, 2013By Liz Biro
Wilmington chefs know to get to the city’s farmers markets before Brasserie du Soleil head cook Tripp Engel arrives.
A long-time advocate of serving local food at the Lumina Station restaurant and a food buyer for the six-unit Circa Restaurant Group, Engel bags a big share of produce from Cape Fear farms.
His support of those farmers and his devotion to bringing diners local fare over the past eight years at Brasserie du Soleil recently earned Engel the Feast Down East Agrarian Stewardship Award.
“The award recognizes those who actively participate in strengthening our local food system by supporting our farms,” according to Feast Down East, a nonprofit effort working to boost small farms and the region's economy by increasing the public’s consumption of local foods.
“Tripp has naturally embraced the culinary riches of our coast and farmland, serving up the freshest seafood, produce, cheeses and eggs,” Feast Down East reported. “Understanding the true meaning of seasonal cooking, he goes to great lengths to accommodate our farmers and fishermen. His passion has inspired others to support our local farmers and fishermen with appreciation for their craft and value to our community.”
One of Engel’s suppliers was another Agrarian Stewardship Award winner.
Meg Shelton, owner of Shelton Herb Farm in Leland, is a chef favorite thanks to the lush herbs, both familiar and exotic, that she grows.
“She was the first to sell local foods to restaurants and was the leader in establishing the Riverfront Farmers Market” that runs from April to December in downtown Wilmington, Feast Down East officials said.
Shelton, a force behind various local agricultural, environmental, business and community efforts, began with a small-scale family garden. In 1986, she expanded into a commercial plot supplying herbs, salad greens, cut flowers, vegetables and perennials to local markets.
Feast Down East bestowed the awards at its March 1 annual regional conference at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.