On the evening of September 21, Great Basin Brewing company hosted their first inaugural Supper in the Streets, a family style dinner featuring food sourced from local farms, ranches, and businesses. Head chef James Garza at the Great Basin in Reno was the mastermind behind the night’s incredible menu featuring a five-course meal served with Great Basin beer and local wines.
Coordinator Ann from sponsor Western Nevada College explained the evening was intended to “celebrate the season and the nice weather by eating supper outside. Though the weather didn’t exactly cooperate. We wanted to prove that local food isn’t only for the rich but that everyone should have it on their plate.” Thanks to the Sparks Heritage Museum the rain and cold could not stop this gathering.
The dinner was held at the museum in a large room with vaulted ceilings and the walls were adorned with local watercolor art. The servers for the evening, all volunteers from 39 North Downtown another sponsor, greeted guests at the door. The atmosphere was complete with music from the acoustic guitar and vocal stylings of Tyler Stafford, a local musician from Reno who has been professionally playing for six years now.
Among the guest were the owners who supplied the meat, produce, dairy and even honey for the meal. Including Hank Schenkel, owner of Hanco-Sierra Farm who talked extensively with Chef James Garza about his crops and the special attention that he pays to them in order to ensure, as Chef James Garza put it “they are the best potatoes anyone here has ever had.” Chef James Garza stated that “it is people like Hank that allow you to get so much more out of your food because he genuinely cares about how he grows his potatoes and swiss chard and everything he produces.”
When asked why it is important to source locally and to support local business Chef James Garza stated that, “we should really regard food as special. We waste so much food in the United States. We have taken the value and depreciated it. But when you know your local producer you care about where your food came from and we learn to appreciate the food we spend money on and tend to throw less of it away.” In order to achieve this goal of lessening waste, Great Basin has partnered with Conscious Container and their founder and CEO Caren McNamara. This program allows craft beer drinkers to return their glass bottles to be washed and refilled. This program is incentivized to reward beer drinkers with one dollar of credit at Great Basin for every case returned.
The intimate experience was complete with a 62-pound Steamship Round. A very large cut of beef roasted whole and bone in. This cut came from “steer 636 of Baker Ranch Brewery Beef Company” according to owner Carl Baker. Guests had the opportunity to learn about local ranchers, ice creameries, berry growers, and farmers and talk to the owners personally about what makes their food the best.
It was the goal of the organizers to showcase an experience of excellent food and to help put a face to the names behind our area’s small businesses. As Ann from WNC put it “tonight you are paying a living wage for your neighbors in the room.” The owners of Great Basin Brewery state that they intend to have more events like this in the future and that they will continue to feature local foods on their menus. Chef James Garza reflected on the evening by saying that he intends to continue to go back to the roots of cooking and that it is in our traditions with things like the bagna cauda, Basque cooking and the origins of cioppino dishes and that “these are the things that bring us together as people and that is what we are celebrating here tonight.”