“With the three markets we have on Thursday, there is just this bonanza of food that comes flooding into D.C.,” says Glass, one of the organization’s two directors of markets and programs. The lunch is a potluck of sorts, with staffers making a dish here and there, but Glass, a former associate editor of Food Arts magazine, is the unofficial head chef and coordinates the undertaking.
The lunches started when Glass, as a pet project, began teaching fellow marketing director Reg Godin cooking fundamentals, such as how to make chicken stock, roast a chicken properly (dry-brining with salt a day in advance is the trick) or roast vegetables cut sides down on a parchment-lined baking sheet to get them brown and crispy. These days it’s not unusual to spot a crock of sauerkraut quietly fermenting away on Godin’s desk.
“It’s an easy sell to get people to stop what they are doing and cook,” says Glass. “Eating together keeps us connected to the food that we are part of bringing into the city. Otherwise, it’s just an abstract thing.”
Between full- and part-time staffers and guests (often farmers and church employees), there could be upward of 20 lunchers seated at black and blond Ikea work tables pushed together in the center of the G Street NW offices. The hallmark of the sundry dishes, served buffet style, is simple preparation showcasing the freshness and quality of the ingredients.
Shopping at Penn Quarter on the last Thursday in July, Glass goes from stand to stand accepting effusive greetings from farmers while she fills bags with bacon and mint from Evensong Farm (Sharpsburg, Md.), creme fraiche from Blue Ridge Dairy (Sterling), bread from Wesley Lanham’s Bread Ovens (Baltimore), Berkshire pork chops from Cabin Creek Heritage Farm (Upper Marlboro), potatoes from Mountain View Farm (Purcellville), shiitakes from the Mushroom Stand (Pasadena) and assorted cheeses from Shepherd’s Manor Creamery in New Windsor, Md., the state’s first sheep’s-milk dairy farm. She even thinks to buy wildflowers from Wollam Gardens (Jeffersonton, Va.) for centerpieces.