Deena C. Bouknight – Contributing Writer
Two Atlanta, Ga., chefs, Kevin Rathbun and Gerry Klaskala, will visit Winding Stair Farm in Macon County Sunday, Sept. 8, from 3 to 9 p.m. to prepare food for a CareNet benefit.
Winding Stair Farm’s first charity event enables 20 ticket holders to get a behind-the-scenes experience of a diverse small farm, followed by a five-course dinner with wine pairings and then dessert and entertainment, while also supporting Macon CareNet.
Most of the proceeds of the $500 per person benefit tickets will be given to CareNet, which provides food assistance to meet the needs of Macon County residents.
“For the last 10 years my husband, Greg Mullins, and I have supported organizations working on food insecurity issues,” said Stacy Bredendieck of Winding Stair Farm. “We are both one generation removed from farming in our families and always felt a connection with growing food and sharing with neighbors. Even though my grandparents lived in downtown Atlanta, they maintained a half-acre garden next to their house, a throw-back to their roots on farms in Georgia and Alabama. The extra produce was left in baskets just outside the fence for anyone to take. Our farm here in Macon County was started as a small homestead to feed ourselves, friends, and family, but has continued growing each year as additional people have joined our team. This year Winding Stair Farm has taken eggs, lettuce, and greens to the CareNet pantry, but our goal is to become a larger resource to feed people in Macon County. As we continue to grow the supportive community who purchases our food, we hope to be able to provide more of that same food to those neighbors who can’t afford to pay for it.”
Bredendieck said she and her husband met the chefs through Atlanta’s Open Hand, a non-profit, volunteer organization that provides healthy meals and nutrition education to those in need. “Both chefs have worked with organizations dealing with food insecurity for many years,” she said. “When we approached them about this dinner they were incredibly generous, not only donating their time and talent, but also getting their suppliers to donate wine and products for the dinner.”
The event will begin with a tour of Winding Stair Farm, which is located just off Hwy. 64, 12 miles west of Franklin. The privately-owned farm, on the headwaters of the Nantahala River, is devoted to pasture for Icelandic sheep as well as many breeds of chickens and other poultry. Plus, an acre is set aside for growing heirloom vegetables, and there is a greenhouse where much of the produce is started from seed.
Ticket holders will then enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres at the property’s grist mill. Bredendieck explained. “At the northern edge of the farm on Trough Branch, this picturesque mill, with its 18-foot diameter water wheel, offers a view to Firescald Ridge.”
During appetizers, Tim Hogsed, CareNet executive director, will give a talk about the work of Macon CareNet.
Focusing on produce from the farm and foods sourced from the surrounding area, the five-course meal will be prepared by the Atlanta chefs and served family-style. Each course will include wine pairings. Guests will dine at tables along the Nantahala River.
“Kevin Rathbun, known to cook a fine steak, plans to prepare a whole lamb on a spit,” said Bredendieck. “Gerry Klaskala’s food is always visually beautiful, but it’s his combination of flavors that you remember at the end of the night. Our garden is currently bursting with lettuce greens, peppers, eggplant, beans, and hopefully still some tomatoes. We hope to get trout, mushrooms, and maybe cheese from some other local providers.”
Entertainment after dinner will be the music of Ol’ Dirty Bathtub in a large open pavilion.
Round-trip transportation is included in the ticket price. Guests can arrange to be picked up from a central pick-up point in Cashiers, Highlands, or Franklin. And, there will be golf cart transportation on the farm.
“We are hoping to host more chef dinners in the future,” said Bredendieck. “Since the farm was previously a campground, the infrastructure is great for events. We have a nice bathhouse, large pavilion, and now the grist mill. Chef dinners are a nice fit to showcase our produce and animals.”
Winding Stair Farm is also known for its Nursery, which opened in 2018 on the Highlands Road. While the chef event benefit for CareNet is the first main event for the Farm, the Nursery has held many events since it opened early in 2018, according to Bredendieck. “Although not specifically for charities, we’ve held free workshops and movie nights for the community. We also sponsored the Franklin Free Pantry for a month earlier this year.”
For more information about the upcoming CareNet benefit, visit: https://windingstairfarm.com/chefs/.