[Courtesy Photo]

On July 31, the Youth Garden Project will host their first Garden Dinner of the season featuring guest chef Brian Sward, director of operations at the Moab Brewery. Sward will provide a meal using the fruits and vegetables grown in the garden and sourced from other local farms.

Each year, YGP recruits a handful of guest chefs to create a farm-to-table, multi-course meal for Garden Dinner attendees. After communicating with the chefs about what seasonal produce is available, they design a menu around those ingredients while adding their own personal flair.

“It’s great to see guest chefs get involved with what we do here at YGP, and it’s a challenge for them to create a meal with the produce we have available at the time,” said YGP Outreach and Development Coordinator Emily Roberson. “It’s like a mini Chopped show.”

Sward attended Pennsylvania State University, where he researched the Department of Agriculture’s healthy lunch program for schools. He traveled widely after graduating, from New York City to Arizona and many stops in between, even cooking in the Athlete’s Village in Atlanta, Ga. during the 1996 Olympic Games. Sward eventually settled in New York City, where his culinary career took him to the Plaza Hotel, Tavern on the Green and the Central Park Boathouse.

Sward then earned his MBA from Stetson University while working at Walt Disney World, where he was a chef at Le Cellier Steakhouse at EPCOT. He also worked for Disney and MGM Resorts International in Analytics before taking over Maverik’s foodservice division in Salt Lake City. Food and Wine Magazine recognized Maverik as having one of the top ten best convenience store food programs during Sward’s tenure.

In October of 2020, Sward became the director of operations for the Moab Brewery, where he has enjoyed developing the restaurant’s menu, spending time outdoors and sharing his passion for hospitality.

Dinner tickets cost $50 per person, and all revenue from the event will go towards funding YGP’s youth and community programs such as CareShare produce donations, YGP Summer Camp and Garden Classroom field trips.

“Garden Dinners are a great way to experience the youth garden, our space and our seasonal abundance of produce,” Roberson said. “These events are one of the ways that we are able to both fundraise for our mission while also living out our mission of cultivating community.”

The event will begin at 7 p.m. with dinner served at 7:30 p.m. There are limited seats, so reserve your tickets early on the YGP website or by calling (435) 259-BEAN. The next Garden Dinner will be held on August 28 with guest chef Tim Buckingham.

Event information

What: Garden Dinner Fundraiser

When: Saturday, July 31 at 7 p.m.

Where: Youth Garden Project (530 S. 400 East, Moab)

Tickets are $50 a piece. For more information, go to www.youthgardenproject.org