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About 125 friends of the Evanston farmers markets celebrated the fall harvest Thursday night by consuming gourmet concoctions of foods grown on nearby farms.

It was the sixth annual event benefiting the Friends of the Evanston Farmers Markets and the third held at the kitchens of Now We’re Cookin’.

Organizers were a bit nervous in recent weeks about early-bird ticket sales, but when the night finally arrived, it was apparent that this year’s celebration closely matched those of earlier years. In fact, it would have been difficult to deal with a larger crowd than came to the event Thursday night.

Nell Funk and Nancy Burhop thank the crowd for their support.

One of the more innovative offerings was a Corn Cone, devised by the pop-up restaurant, Feast & Imbibe, with ingredients provided by First Orchard. It featured kernels of yellow corn, topped by a peach sauce, nestled in an ice-cream cone, accompanied by a glass of apple cider soda.

Nicole Pedersen, chef of Found Restaurant, offered an apple, celery and Asian pear salad, with fall squash, hot chilies, and pumpkin seeds. Her farmer/producer companion was Nichols Farm.

At each of the 15 food stations, the organization had paired a chef with a farmer/producer to come up with their selection. Attendees were free to roam from station to station to sample the food, gathering around a number of stand-up tables to eat and enjoy their finds with others.

One of the food stations was the Hummingbird food truck, parked outside the venue.

Nell Funk, owner of Now We’re Cookin’  on Payne Street, was credited by Friends president Nancy Burhop with organizing the event at her venue, but her efforts were supplemented by a corps of volunteers whose aim is to help more Evanstonians reap the benefits of eating healthy foods, most of which is grown organically and offered for sale at local farmers markets, including the granddaddy of them all in downtown Evanston each Saturday morning.

A significant portion of the proceeds from the benefit is used to help low-income Evanstonians afford to make those healthy-food alternatives to their daily diets.

But the 501-c-3 non-profit group also helps provide nutrition education in partnership with Nurture and NorthShore University HealthSystem.

Other restaurants whose chefs and owners contributed their time and talents included North Pond Restaurant, The Publican, FarmHouse Restaurant, Campagnola, Union Pizza, Chef’s Station, Bistro Bordeaux, Stained Glass, Quince Restaurant, Koi Restaurant, NU/Sodexo, Hewn Bakery, Crust & Crumb, and Coffee Speed Shop.

Top: A portion of the crowd at the annual Friends benefit.

Charles Bartling

A resident of Evanston since 1975, Chuck Bartling holds a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and has extensive experience as a reporter and editor for daily newspapers, radio...

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