San Juan Capistrano Ecology Center’s ‘Green Feast’ offers up a model for sustainable living

OCRegister 3 months ago
Attendees socialize, wine and dine at The Ecology Center’s 2017 Green Feast, held Sept. 16 in San Juan Capistrano. (Courtesy of Tony Wodarck/The Ecology Center)

Attendees socialize, wine and dine at The Ecology Center’s 2017 Green Feast, held Sept. 16 in San Juan Capistrano. (Courtesy of Tony Wodarck/The Ecology Center)

Chef Drew Deckman prepares a main course for The Ecology Center’s Sept. 16 fundraising dinner. (Courtesy of TonyWodarck/The Ecology Center)

Chef Drew Deckman prepares a main course for The Ecology Center’s Sept. 16 fundraising dinner. (Courtesy of TonyWodarck/The Ecology Center)

Chefs Jen Alvarez and Drew Deckman shuck oysters in preparation for The Ecology Center’s Sept. 16 fundraising dinner. (Courtes of Tony Wodarck/The Ecology Center)

Chefs Jen Alvarez and Drew Deckman shuck oysters in preparation for The Ecology Center’s Sept. 16 fundraising dinner. (Courtes of Tony Wodarck/The Ecology Center)

You’ve probably never been to a dinner quite like this – 228 people seated in an outdoor setting at San Juan Capistrano’s Ecology Center, feasting on organic fare specially assembled for the occasion, raising nearly $250,000 for the center.

The Ecology Center’s eighth annual Green Feast, held Sept. 16, was an amplified version of “community table” dinners that the center hosts periodically through the year.

Those dinners bring in farm-to-table cuisine prepared by chefs that work with the center to celebrate sustainable foods and tasty, healthy eating.

The events regularly sell out, as did this one, even with tickets priced at $275 to support the fund drive. A matching gift from Sheila and Jim Peterson carried the event over the top to support The Ecology Center’s educational outreaches, the center reported.

Chefs-in-residence Drew Deckman from Deckman’s en el Mogor, Jennifer Sherman from Chez Panisse and 2016 Eco App-Off chef Gina Galvin from Mood for Food, prepared a Baja-themed menu. The listed fare included oysters, chorizo tostadas, zucchini cakes, pickled vegetables, striped bass, stewed summer squash, tamales, Caesar salad and fire-roasted lamb.

The Ecology Center, located at 32701 Alipaz Street, San Juan Capistrano, is a working model of how households can improve life through organic gardening, water conservation, healthy eating, recycling, conserving energy and creative use of resources. Visitors can walk the grounds, view exhibits and outdoor labs, take a guided tour and purchase books and handy home implements.

The center offers classes and workshops in a variety of disciplines, from growing chickens to making cheese to making sandals. See theecologycenter.org for details or call 949-443-4223.

The center’s “Tools for Change” general store, open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, is housed within a historic farmhouse built in 1878. The city’s redevelopment agency purchased the property in 1991 to preserve open space. The Ecology Center operates under a 20-year lease with the city.

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