Chef JJ Johnson visits Jones Valley Teaching Farm in Birmingham, Alabama, and meets with student interns ahead of the annual Twilight Supper.
[MUSIC] I feel like I should have been doing this in my life. Like somebody should be doing this where I'm from. To see a 16, 16? 17. Sorry. 17 year old young lady care about the food we're putting in our body and knowing the way the food has been fertilized and grown and when it's ready means that We have a lot of work to do. [MUSIC] Twilight supper for Jones Valley teaching farm is the biggest food event of the year in Birmingham. This is a big fund raiser It's an honor to have chef J.J. Johnson down here for Food and Wine and for Jones Valley Teaching Farm. J.J.'s star is on the rise. They just opened up a restaurant in Manhattan. They've got another one on the way this fall. It was important to think about having a national chef of J.J.'s caliber come down to Birmingham. Break bread with the students, harvest vegetables from the farm and it's important that we're sharing good leadership, it's important that we're sharing mentorship because that's a part of the Joan Valley experience. This is Joan's valley teaching farm, this is a two acre farm. How many iinterns are here? Interns? It's about six or seven of us right now. They grow their food, they harvested it, they sell it to the community. It's more of. Actual knowledge, this grows,we don't want it to grow, this is why it grows, this is how it grows,and then they can come out and apply certain skills they've learned to that and actually you see them grow and develop. [UNKNOWN] that red okra? Yeah. [LAUGH] We have our okra growing- In New York, I ask always for red okra, and by the time when the okra turns red, that's like the best [UNKNOWN] Right. [LAUGH] These are sweet potato leaves, right? Yeah, those are sweet potato leave, and- I'm doing a tuna tartar tomorrow on these sweet potato leaves. [UNKNOWN] squash is a delicate crop. Even when you scratch you fingernails against this, it can easily scratch- What would you do with this? How would you cook this? I would saut�� it, most likely. I would chop it up in slices and Season it well. When you go through cutlinary school, you're just taught cook, right? You're not really taught where is product coming from? You're 10, 20 steps ahead of some of my peers. My peer would get this squash and they'd be like, ". It's just heirloom." Right? They wouldn't be noticing, " my God this skin is so delicate." Like you know those facts, because you work with it, and your knowledge is very key to the chef. I would utilize you for what I should be cooking in the kitchen, because you are going to make me better as a farmer. This is not just about bringing a chef in. It's not just about this one big dinner. It's really about the power of good food in a community. What do we got here today? So this is the okra from the farm which I think is really crazy rifght. There was no other way for me not to come here and use your okra. I think I make the vest okra fries. Don't tell my grandmother that OK. I own't tell my grandma. If I was going to start my farm, I'm coming here and I'm asking one of you to come running. That's what I'm doing. Definitely proud to be out here, definitely proud to be a part of my community in a bigger way. It's just an experience that, it's just life changing. And to think, like I would have never thought that I would be this farm girl that I am now, and I love it. What'd you think about the farm? It's unbelievable. Yeah. She's schooling me on food. And that moment made me say, did I get enough education when I went to culinary school, or before? That's the thing, it's like, when we started cooking with the students six years ago. It's like, yeah, we can lend our culinary expertise, and we can teach them some skills, and teach their parents some skills. And that first night, the first dinner we all cooked together, they turned the tables, and we started learning more from them. This curriculum matters. Funding this farm matters. And the work that's being done on this farm, that's growing our future leaders in Birmingham. Being a part of this, thinking about my future and how it could benefit me. I can teach my kids how to grow and I can carry on this, what I know about farming. And to my children, they can pass it down to their children. It was really good, just to be a part of a establishment that feels like home. It feels welcoming, it feels healthy, and it feels right. [MUSIC]