"It seems funny to think of a cleaning company that is so into local food, doesn't it?" says P. Richelle White, owner of Herb'n Maid, a St. Louis-based eco-friendly cleaning company and host of Sunday's Play With Your Food event at the Moonrise Hotel.
Really, it's a natural fit for a company that aims to spread the word about sustainable living beyond cleaning products. "Our job -- our mission -- is to guide [people] to products, services and practices that tread lightly on the planet, without sacrificing comfort, style, the things that are most important to them," White says.
"Our first foray into celebrating local food was back in March, when we presented FRESHfest. That event focused on local farmers and featured local indie restaurants who source ingredients from local farms. Guests were so interested and engaged and full of questions for the local farmers and activists! And it was actually exciting for us to look out through the crowd and not see a single Herb'n Maid client in the room. We had found a way to deliver our sustainability message to a new audience!"
Play With Your Food caters to those who hold art, kids, and tasty sweets in high importance. The event couples with SCOSAG (South City Open Studio and Gallery). SCOSAG students are taking an active part in Play with Your Food's main event, the Pastry Chefs' Eco-Challenge with chefs Christy Augustin of Le Cordon Bleu and Claire Robberson of Eclipse.
"It's a head-to-head matchup between two very talented sugar artists," White explains. "What makes this competition unique is that the design theme came from children, not from us. SCOSAG asked some kids to draw their dream green job, and we selected from the artwork that was submitted, then assigned the chefs to design their cakes around their interpretation of the children's artwork."
Another challenge? Augustin and Robberson must use at least 75 percent local, organic and/or fair trade products in their cakes.
White hopes the event gives participants a new view of local food. "Using local ingredients at home doesn't have to be limited to buying what's in season at the farmers' market all summer. It's something we can do all year-round here in Missouri. Local eggs, local milk, local honey, local cheese -- these are things we can incorporate into the way we eat all year long. To me that's crucial in helping people understand that sustainability can be on their grocery list each and every day.
"I think it would be incredible if a child attending the event with her family were to be inspired to become a pastry chef after seeing Chef Christy and Chef Claire turning sugar into something beautiful and delicious."
Play with Your Food Sunday, September 19, 2010 2-6 p.m. Moonrise Hotel 6177 Delmar Boulevard
Admission is free.