Seattle's First Chicory Festival
The Sagra di Radicchio
In the fall of 2017, farmers Siri and Jason of Local Roots Farm held a gathering called Radicchio Fest on their farm. It was a Friday, it was rainy and cool, and they welcomed a small group of restaurant industry professionals to the edge of a field on their farm in Duvall. Spread out on a few folding tables, under collapsable market tents, were about 6 varieties of radicchio. The heads of radicchio were whole, halved, and cut into little pieces. There was olive oil, flaky salt, lemon, and Italian wine. People snacked, breathed in the fresh air, and asked Siri and Jason questions; about vegetables, family, travel, and farming.
Local Roots had hosted this event—”Chicory Fest”—for several years in a row. It was often flooded, rained out, or poorly attended due to timing, traffic, and Friday-night obligations of those working in the restaurant and service industry.
Meanwhile, Lane Selman of the Culinary Breeding Network was planning an event to educate consumers in Portland about winter squash. She called her event the “Squash Sagra” and enlisted the help of chefs, farmers, and food educators in the Portland area to collaborate on a project to “put the winter back in winter squash”.
Up in Seattle, a vegetable enthusiast named Cassie Woolhiser saw the winter squash buzz on social media. It was all about local produce, but it looked so… sexy! She posited her amazement to Yasuaki Saito, managing owner of the London Plane restaurant. How could something like this happen in Seattle? What would we like to celebrate, and what would differentiate us from the Winter Squash Sagra? And what the heck was a sagra?
Together, with our friends Jackie Cross and Sarah Dublin of Tom Douglas Restaurants and Prosser Farm, and Brian and Crystine Campbell and Eric Budzynski of Uprising Seeds, we decided to hold a sagra—a festival—all our own in Seattle.
Festivities began with a weeklong Chicory Week, in which restaurants around the city featured chicory dishes on their menus, giving Seattle a taste of the sweet and bitter chicory season.
Our weekend in November included:
an Industry Night party
a Sagra di Radicchio at the incredible Palace Ballroom, with a dozen chefs and a chicory coffee roaster preparing beautiful bites of radicchio dishes!
a really special family-style Rad Pizza Party
lots of socializing
This event is a ton of fun, and we can’t wait to do it every single fall. We hope to see you at the Sagra di Radicchio in November this year, and we hope you’re inspired to celebrate what you like to eat, what you like to grow, and what’s amazing about the community you cultivate, wherever you are.