Skip to main content

Natural Awakenings Dallas -Fort Worth Metroplex Edition


The North Texas Farm-to-Table Movement

Jun 28, 2024 08:46AM ● By Bernice Butler

Customers have many restaurants they can choose from throughout the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex, but whether by conscience or health consciousness, more are turning to establishments that cut out the middle man, decrease their transportation carbon footprint and serve locally grown food in the farm-to-table movement. These new models may require more menu planning and labor than simply placing orders and having a food distributor pull up to the back door with packaged items, but the satisfaction of eating dishes made with fresh, locally produced food keeps customers coming back.


Chef Andrea Shackelford, of Harvest at the Masonic, has long cooked with seasonal, local ingredients and sees the farm-to-table movement as the new normal. Harvest focuses on being approachable, rather than creating a fine dining ambiance. “We wanted to make sure it’s not too intimidating for anybody just walking down the street. They can come in, have a good time and enjoy themselves,” she says.

“Chefs want to know where ingredients come from. It’s becoming the standard, and it’s reflective of our guests,” she observes. “People want to know how these things are grown and how the animals are treated. We know sourcing directly from the farmer is better for us, for the animals and the environment.”

While people have harvested from their own backyards forever, the modern farm-to-table or farm-to-fork concept of sourcing local produce, meat and dairy directly from farmers took root in the late 1960s, when consumers and restauranteurs began to reject processed foods devoid of nutrients and taste. Farm-to-table is seen as a more ethical and environmentally sound way to obtain food while keeping more money in local communities.

Shackelford had worked with acclaimed chefs such as Tom Colicchio, Kevin Maxey and Graham Dodds, from whom she learned how to showcase seasonal ingredients in unique dishes. It was her work with Rick Wells and the nonprofit Seed Project Foundation that solidified a commitment to the farm-to-table model. While at Wells’ former restaurant in McKinney, Sauce on the Square, Shackelford had the opportunity to partner with the Chestnut Square Farmers Market for a chef’s dinner series using seasonal ingredients brought directly from the fields.

“That was the first lightbulb that went on, and Rick and I realized that we can really do this as a restaurant,” she recalls. After launching Harvest in 2014, it transitioned to Harvest at the Masonic with three dining levels and live music when they moved into the recently renovated Masonic Lodge, now part of a group that includes Rick's Chophouse and the Grand Hotel.

Shackelford sources grass-fed beef and poultry from K Bar K Meats, in Pottsboro. “They were one of our first vendors. We built a relationship with him and use their grass-fed filet, their sausages and their beef for chicken-fried steak.” They met Jeff Bednar, from Profound Foods, an aquaponic and hydroponic farm and online farmers market serving consumers and restaurants, at a Seed Project Foundation symposium. “He wanted to know specifically what chefs wanted,” she says. “Profound Foods offers indoor-grown lettuce, along with meat, mushrooms and produce from local farmers. They’re a big part of culinary farm-to-table scene here in Dallas-Fort Worth.” Harvest also sources pork from Rehoboth Farm, and chicken and poultry from Windy Meadows.

The summer season is Shackelford’s favorite time to source ingredients. “It’s the easiest time of year to create. You get everything, like strawberries, melons and good peaches. Okra is always fun to play with.” She sources from partner farms and occasionally stops at roadside produce stands for summer finds.


When restauranteur Ed Lowe founded Dallas’ first farm-to-table restaurant, Celebration, in 1971, it was an innovative concept. Growing up eating fresh, locally sourced ingredients, he was determined to support sustainable and socially just food systems by offering them at his new restaurant. “We incorporate seasonal ingredients by including local items into our weekly menu planning,” explains President Shannon Galvan. “We will normally source the items first, and then plan specials and sides around what is available and in season.”

Today, Celebration continues Lowe’s vision and works with local farmers and producers including 44 Farms; Homestead Gristmill; Fretwell Farms, where they source squash and zucchini; Patty’s Herbs; Hill Country Dairy; Adolphus Rice; La Francaise Bakery; and many others.

The chefs and employees at farm-to-table restaurants truly enjoy working with and eating the creations made with local, seasonal ingredients. Galvan says her favorite farm-to-table seasonal dish on Celebration’s menu is the simple, fresh, flavorful East Texas Tomatoes, made with Celebration Pesto and local mozzarella.

Farm-To-Table is Here to Stay

Galvan describes how the eat local movement has influenced the food industry as a whole over time: “It seems that people are much more aware of the food they are consuming and the ingredients used in those items. I think it’s important now more than ever to consider the companies, products and vendors you purchase from, because that has an influential impact in how our food society operates.”

She says Celebration’s long-term commitment and dedication to obtaining the freshest products available, coupled with friendly and professional service, helps customers understand the level of intention and care they put into their meals. “It starts with the call to the farmers or producers, then to picking it up, carefully preparing it and serving it the same day. You can’t get much better than that.”

Harvest is located at 215 N. Kentucky St., in McKinney, 214-726-0251,

Celebration Restaurant is located at 4519 W. Lovers Lane, in Dallas, 214-351-2456,

Charred Corn Puree

“No matter how you serve it, it will give you the flavors of summer.”

4 corn cobs grilled with 50 percent charred corn.

1 grilled red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped

1 tsp chili powder 

½ cup plain yogurt

1 tsp salt

1 large basil leaf

Grill the corn, then cut the kernels off and put into a blender. Add the deseeded bell pepper, chili powder, yogurt, salt, pepper and basil. Slowly blend and then turn the blender on highest speed to get a smooth texture.

Puree can be served warm or chilled. Serve with barbecue favorites, smothered on grilled corn,

or as a sauce to grilled steak or chicken. 

Recipe courtesy Andrea Shackelford, of Harvest.