Visitors to the Orange Homegrown Farmers and Artisan Market find the experience provides a chance to come together as a community and broaden horizons. For Lisa Gilmore, the market offers much more. Passionate about cooking since childhood, Gilmore teaches cooking demonstrations the second Saturday of every month at the market and is living her dream by doing so.
“I’ve wanted to do something with cooking for my entire life,” says Gilmore. “Teaching these cooking demonstrations has reminded me that it’s never too late to have a dream. It’s funny that at 60 I’m finally doing what I want to do.”
While working with her husband on their landscaping company for the past 30 years, Gilmore spent much of her free time cooking up large meals and trying new recipes for her family and friends.
“When you’re with Lisa, you know you’re going to eat good food,” says Janna Fink, Gilmore’s best friend and sous chef. “Even when we’re eating out, Lisa always know who the chefs are and how long they’ve been at each restaurant.”
Earlier this year, Gilmore received the opportunity to be the chef herself when Paula Soest, the market’s music coordinator, suggested that she teach cooking demonstrations. Since May, Gilmore has taught Farmers Market attendees a new recipe each month, sharing her passion with Old Towne residents looking for some culinary inspiration and assistance.
At each cooking demonstration, Gilmore chooses a theme and goes through a recipe step-by-step while engaging with eager-to-learn attendees. Dishes shared so far include a roasted beet and arugula salad with avocado for Mother’s Day and homemade guacamole and bruschetta for Father’s Day. Coming up, Gilmore plans on teaching how to cook some new side dishes for Thanksgiving.
“I have food memories from when I was four and five,” says Gilmore. “I often tweak recipes that my parents made and make them my own. Back then, it was all about sitting down with the family. My goal is to get families back at the table eating together.”
For each demonstration, Gilmore researches what vendors will be at the market and plans recipes that will promote their produce. “The Farmers Market is run by really passionate people who give so much of their time. I’m learning a lot about what produce is available,” she says.
During the demonstrations, Gilmore shares personal stories, which Fink says is her favorite part. “I love watching Lisa connect with the audience. She is so passionate, and everyone always has such a good time.”
Leading these demonstrations has also helped Gilmore realize another dream of hers, which is to teach cooking classes. (She’s currently looking for a kitchen in which to teach the classes).
In addition to Gilmore’s cooking demonstrations, Old Towne residents can also find a number of upcoming events to attend at the Farmers Market. Each season, 1888, a nonprofit organization, will be working with Alyssa Duranty of the Orange County Register to highlight a different historic building as part of an ongoing series. The first story will feature the Villa Park Orchards Packinghouse. To kick it off, there will be a panel discussion and podcast taping during the Farmers Market on August 29th.
“The organization 1888 is all about bringing back the art of storytelling, so this event will be a nice way to see an important Old Towne building highlighted,” says Megan Penn, Executive Director of the market.
On September 26th, the market will host Bike to Market Day—dedicated to encouraging Old Towne residents to ride their bikes instead of driving vehicles. Involved are several bike advocacy groups and Vintage Bicycle Restoration. They will share with residents the dos and don’ts of biking. Another upcoming event to be held at the market is an Orange High School fundraiser featuring a petting zoo brought by the school’s Future Farmers of America.
“These events are a great way to engage the community and bring awareness to the many local organizations trying to do some good,” says Penn.
Old Towne residents can visit the Orange Homegrown Farmers and Artisan Market every Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm and learn how to cook from Gilmore the second Saturday of every month from 10-10:30 am. The market is located at Chapman University’s Historic Villa Park Orchards Packinghouse lot in Old Towne at 304 N. Cypress St. For information, visit www.orangehomegrown.org.
Published in the Sep/Oct 2015 edition of the Old Towne Orange Plaza Review
Written by Elana Katz, Photo by Mike Escobedo
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