Mission Creek Festival introduces new food initiative this year


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For Courtenay Bouvier, the food-program director for this year's Mission Creek Festival, getting people together to eat delicious food is one of the greatest gifts a person can give.

For the first time, the Mission Creek Festival will provide several culinary experiences for the people of Iowa City.

The main event will be a brunch at 11 a.m. April 1 at the Mill, 120 E. Burlington St. Admission is $25 and will include a family-style meal and all-you-can-drink mimosas.

The idea for the brunch began when Andre Perry went to Bouvier at the end of last year's festival and said, "Don't you wish you had somewhere to go when this was all over for the world's best brunch?"

Bouvier, a former Daily Iowan employee, agreed with the idea.

"I thought it would be a way to bring people together and that it's a great closure to the frenzied week that proceeds it," she said.

Comfort food and a family-style serving were the two concepts Bouvier and Perry agreed about including in the brunch.

With the help of chefs from the Motley Cow Café, Devotay, Chef's Table, and Augusta, each course will make taste buds dance with a New Orleans style in several dishes specific to each chef.

The first course will be a twist on the traditional eggs benedict created by chef David Wieseneck of the Motley Cow.

He will make a smoked-trout benedict, which includes a fried smoked trout cake covered by a poached egg and rémoulade sauce.

"We created something special for the event, and I wanted to make something that I thought people would enjoy but be new to them as well," Wieseneck said.

The second course will be a traditional caesar salad from chef Kurt Friese of Devotay, who will also make a bread pudding with whiskey caramel sauce for dessert.

Both chefs are strong advocates of using local food in their dishes.

Friese said he tries to use products from local farmers as much as he can and that the farms he buys from are anywhere from 100 to 150 miles away.

"Buying locally is important not just for feel-good reasons but spiritual and economic as well," he said. "I trust the food more when I know the farmer who grew it. Plus it's more fresh because it's closer to my kitchen door."

Wieseneck will purchase the eggs, cilantro, and braised greens for his smoked-trout benedict from local farmers as well.

"I have a lot of personal convictions toward using local products," he said. "But I think this is a home-grown event for local residents, and I'm happy to bring something in to the local philosophy that is building this event."

A crawfish étouffée from Eric McDowell of Chef's Table and grits and pork grillades from Ben Halperin of Augusta will also be included on the menu.

For those who are more interested in the literary side of the festival, Mission Creek will also host a Food and Lit Crawl in which local venues will provide appetizers and desserts for each reading.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. Saturday, and attendees will be guided to a series of venues for an evening of literature and food tasting.

In addition, Jamie Powers of Deluxe Cakes and Pastries will make a special theme cake to share at the David Cross event on Friday that will represent his work and personality.

"The efforts to make Mission Creek what it is brings so much to the local community of downtown Iowa City," Powers said. "It puts Iowa City on the map for cultural experiences."

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