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Grains Not Created Equal: Taste, Learn, Bake with Rare Grain Experts

When Apr 03, 2016 01:00 PM to
Apr 04, 2016 03:00 PM
Where Pittsburgh / Allegheny County
Contact Name
Contact Phone 412-343-7354

Spelt in Hull








Grains Are Not Created Equal: Taste and Learn with Grain Advocate Elizabeth Dyck and Artisan Baker Stefan Senders


Virginia Phillips, Slow Food Pittsburgh,

Elizabeth Dyck, OGRIN,


Agronomist Elizabeth Dyck bets you don't know what grain really tastes like.

She is an influential voice for rare and heritage grains in the Northeast, coming to Pittsburgh April 3 and 4 with artisan baker Stefan Senders of the Wide Awake Bakery near Ithaca. Their mission is to offer the Pittsburgh food community, chefs, bakers and home cooks alike, opportunities to taste how not all grain is created equal.

Participants will be offered intensive grain tastings and informal learning time with a baker who has a nearly cult following for bread he bakes with grain grown and milled in his upstate New York community


Day One: Sunday, April 3, 1-4 pm at Chatham University, geared to chefs, bakers, distillers, brewers, food students, home cooks, grain growers, distributors and food educators. A baking demo by Senders will be followed by a variety of blind tastings—a first for Pittsburgh-- to immerse tasters in pure grain flavors. The day ends with a "relaxed" potluck buffet featuring a premium array of grain dishes and breads by guest chefs and bakers, and a sampling of grain-derived beverages.


Day Two: Monday, April 4, 9 am to 3 pm. Mr. Senders will teach an intensive, hands-on baking class for serious professional and home bakers at the Wigle Whiskey Barrelhouse on the North Side.


Sponsors are Slow Food Pittsburgh, Chatham University’s Food Studies Program, Wigle Whiskey and the Organic Grower’s Research and Information-Sharing Network.

Dyck is a champion of the “new” old grains—“ species and varieties that were cultivated in times past for superior flavor, nutrition and sustainability. Some of them,” she says, ”were grown in the western Pennsylvania region and now, after years of work by farmers, they are becoming available here again.”

A long-time owner of an organic farm, she is equally eloquent supervising a threshing demo as she is generating quotes for the New York Times regarding collaborations with New York chefs and bakers.

Through the Organic Growers’ Research and Information-sharing Network (OGRIN)  she has worked for years and to good effect on projects including a multimillion-dollar USDA effort, to improve the quality of local grain and its access to markets.


Here's how a grain tasting works: Elizabeth Dyck: “I will serve spoonsful of heritage red and white wheat, buckwheat, rye, barley and also the ancient grains spelt, einkorn and emmer, all of them steamed, just as you would rice.

"People are surprised and delighted by flavors they find--or don't find,' she says. "Rye for example, you might associate with an aggressive flavor. Instead it's delicate and sweet." Getting to know the grains this way, she says, can serve as an 'opening wedge,' tempting people into the kitchen to prepare them in delicious, uncomplicated ways. She says these blind tastings have won over chefs, bakers and home cooks alike at New York events. She expects a lively discussion, which she'll guide.

Tasters in Pittsburgh will also blind-taste two loaves, baked with two of Dyck's special grains grown on one farm, trying to discern differences between them. They’ll blind-taste three crackers, each baked with a different ancient grain.


About the intensive baking class: As many a baker knows, baking bread with local flour can initially be tricky. Senders will address these issues and more related to community-related baking. Wide Awake Bakery is known for uniquely successful marketing. It offers a CSA-model subscription program, called CSB or Community Supported Bakery. Stefan and the bakery have worked with the Organic Growers Research and Information-Sharing Network and the famed NYC Greenmarket to teach bakers how to use locally grown organic grains more successfully. His short demo on Sunday is geared to bakers at all levels. The Monday all-day class is intensive, hands-on for professionals and serious home bakers.


Among contributors to the Sunday potluck: Trevett Hooper, chef/owner of Legume, Beth Zozula, executive chef, Ace Hotel, Casey Shively, pastry chef, Ace Hotel, Kate Romane, chef/owner, E2, Kevin Costa, chef de cuisine, Root 174, and Chris Galarda, of Chatham's Eden Hall campus. Bakers include: Nick Ambeliotis' Mediterra Bakery, Geof Comings' Five Points Artisan Bakery, Neil Blazin's Driftwood Oven and Shauna Kearns and her students at Braddock wood-fired bakery. Grain derived beverages: Program participants will sample beverages from Wigle Whiskey, Hop Farm, known for growing its own hops, and the estate brewery, Sprague Farm and Brew Works, growing hops and barley and malting the hops. Bonus: Millie's Homemade Ice Cream's Chad Townsend will send his soon-to-be-launched butter for the event, so participants will be among the first to savor the new product.

The table should be laid for a memorable discussion to boost consumption of Western Pennsylvania grains, a sector that Elizabeth Dyck views as "on the cusp."


Fees: Admission to the Sunday program is $25 for the general public and $20 for Slow Food members. *Chefs, bakers, grain professionals and food students are admitted free, but must register. The Monday baking class is $100, including lunch. For questions about either day’s program or registration information: email Virginia Phillips or call 412-343-7354


About Elizabeth Dyck

Dr. Dyck has been to Western Pennsylvania several times, collaborating with Nigel Tudor at Weatherbury Farm in Avella, on his organic crops of half a dozen rare and ancient grains. She's a participant in a multi-million dollar USDA value-added project for regional grains. She and Mr. Senders have spoken at PASA's annual Farming for the Future conference. She is founder and coordinator of OGRIN. She has been growing organically for almost 50 years, and has been conducting participatory research for many years with farmers in Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania and Kenya. At Crimson Clover Farm, which she co-owns with her family, and which is certified through Global Organic Alliance, she conducts research and demonstrations on organic management and grows vegetables.

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