Till On: How Rae-Lili Met Chef Jacob Williamson
In 2013, Sofia and her husband Roy Martinez took a leap of faith and decided to turn spilled milk into tilled soil. It all began in 2011 when the couple decided to focus on making healthier lifestyle choices and save a few coins while doing so. Roy owned land in Cooper, TX., so each weekend they traded the big city for the country life, rolled up their sleeves and began to plant. Soon, the two were part time gardeners, selling their produce to local farmers markets and a couple of different restaurants. But, once Sofia found herself without a full-time job due to budget cuts, she decided that it was time to take the full plow, and just like that Rae-Lili Farm was born.
Since taking that dig, the couple hasn’t looked back. Perhaps your fork has found its way to a few of their exclusive crops, as their produce has graced the plates of several notable chefs including, Omar Flores, Robert Lyford, Misti Norris, Nick Walker, David Peña, Stephen Rogers and Peter Barlow, just to name a few. This year, they’ll add a new chef to the list, Executive Chef Jacob Williamson of Five Sixty by Wolfgang Puck. The relationship was fostered after a chance meeting on Good Morning Texas which spotlighted the Chefs for Farmers Main Event. This year they will share a table as Chef Williamson and his sous chefs prepare a delectable dish using fresh Italian peppers, tomatoes and bitter greens from Rae-Lili Farm. Williamson is no stranger to local produce. He’s had the opportunity to work with other local farms in the restaurant, among his favorites are Vertigrow Produce, A Bar N Ranch and Wagyu Excelente.
Both Chef Williamson and the Martinez’s’ have participated in the CFF Main Event for several years, however this will be their first time working together. Williamson exclaimed that while other events may spotlight restaurants and the chefs, this event takes things to another level. “It’s really in the name, you know it’s a celebration of food and wine. These events are very fun, it’s kind of like a party, and it’s a celebration. At other events there might be a lot of other restaurants and chefs there but they’re kind of focused on themselves or their restaurant… this one is not necessarily about us, it’s about the farmers, the vendors and the purveyors,” he explained.
As CFF continues to grow and honor the relationships between chefs and farmers, so too does the appreciation for the event. It’ through CFF that Rae-Lili has continued to meet new chefs, allowing more exposure for their delicious produce. Sofia exclaimed, “CFF takes us on a culinary journey, filled with inspiration and exposure for this farmer duo. Our business continues to thrive and grow from the connections we’ve met through this partnership. CFF is an extraordinary event that highlights folks like us, small scale farmers inspired by what we grow. It’s an honor and a privilege to participate in one of the finest festivals in Dallas.” Till on. TXmB. Farm photos courtesy of Rae-Lili Farm.