Brunch guests to sample delicacies from within 100 miles of Conner Prairie

Prairie Plates continues Saturday with the 100-Mile Brunch, featuring the culinary talents of Ivy Tech Community College Chef Tom England and his students.

By Ephraim Rudolph
Last fall, Conner Prairie co-hosted a first-time culinary event with Ivy Tech Community College as part of the Prairie Plates dining series. Following the resounding success of that first event, a second 100-Mile Brunch will be held at Conner Prairie Saturday.

Prairie Plates organizer and Conner Prairie Director of Programs and Education Chris Petrelli said the idea for the brunch came from a symposium given by Ivy Tech Chef Tom England who espoused the “100-Mile Diet,” which is all about eating food sourced locally from within 100 miles of where a person lives.

This year’s 100-Mile Brunch will showcase Conner Prairie’s own apples.

The original 100-Mile Diet concept can be traced back to the 2005 Canadian bestselling book, “The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating.” England put Conner Prairie staff in contact with Ivy Tech Chef Jeffery Alan Bricker, who now oversees the 100-Mile Brunch and works with his students to source, design and prepare the dishes at the event.

The brunch’s main food items are all sourced from within a 100-mile radius of Conner Prairie. “Of course,” Petrelli said, “we don’t apply those rules to things like coffee, bananas, or salt — you can’t get any of that from within 100 miles of here.”

Guests who attended last year’s event won’t see any returning menu items. “Everything from last year was great and we want to keep shifting the focus to new kinds of food,” Petrelli said.

Last year, the marquee menu item was one of Conner Prairie’s heritage Ossabaw Island hogs, “which was great, because what’s more local than Conner Prairie’s own backyard?” Petrelli said. “This year, we had a bumper crop of apples, so to try something new, many of the dishes will include our own apples.”

Those apples also will be the centerpiece of the special reception at the brunch, which will be held at the Golden Eagle Inn in 1836 Prairietown. At the reception, guests will press and sample fresh apple cider.

This event is one of Petrelli’s favorite Prairie Plates experience and he’s excited for guests to experience what Conner Prairie and Ivy Tech are cooking up this year. “This event is very educational and involves the whole community. We invite the food suppliers to speak and they introduce themselves and their businesses.”