The Grateful Graze Farm to Table Experience

May 7, 2023

Farm to Table restaurants have been popping up in cities all across the country over recent years. Typically the chef or owner have a desire to connect their customers with fresh local food. It’s rare to find a chef who actually spends time on a farm or with the animals. Until now. Meet the Grateful Graze Chef, Matthew Mulder. 

Matthew started working in restaurants when he was 14 years old and was inspired while working  as a line cook at The Deck in Geneseo to pursue a culinary career. He graduated in 2003 from Scott Community College under the instruction of Chef Brad Scott. He did apprenticeships at Miss Mamies and Five in Moline and learned from two other influential Culinary Institute of America chefs during his early years. It was during his time at TPC Deere Run where he learned how to bake bread and enjoyed experimenting with all kinds of sour doughs. His most recent culinary positions were as Executive Chef at assisted living facilities. He enjoyed engaging the residents in the food preparation but after Covid with staff shortages and watching the residents being forced to stay in their rooms he decided to take a break and focus on his farm animals and do a house remodel.

Matthew had been told by a mutual friend that he needed to meet Monte Bottens. One Saturday morning at our small farmers market in Cambridge Illinois Matthew had an opportunity to meet and have a lengthy discussion with Monte about how he was doing regenerative farming and using Gabe Brown’s business model. Matthew decided then and there that he wanted to come to work on our farm and learn all he could about how to raise animals in this way. 

It just so happened that the farm was in need of extra hands as we would be receiving our first batch of pigs soon. Matthew signed on and our journey began. It seems that every time we are in need someone comes along to fill that need and Matthew not only filled the need but he was a natural with the livestock.

Another little piece of our background is that I have always told Monte there are two things I won’t let him do. One, own a dairy and two, own a restaurant. I’ve always been very supportive of everything he wants to do but I know what kind of commitment is involved in those two businesses. 

Monte and I enjoy fine dining and great food. At the beginning of this journey he commented that he would love to be able to enjoy our meat prepared in a fine dining establishment. I knew what he was hinting at. One night I had a brain storm and shared with him the idea of doing Farm to Table dinners in a rented facility on an occasional basis. I thought it was a grand idea to satisfy his restaurant dream and utilize Matthew’s talent all while providing our customers with a great experience.

Our first dinner was a Valentines dinner and the response was incredible. We made plans to host another dinner and then everything came to a halt when Matthew injured his back. We weren’t sure if he would be able to return to the farm or do another dinner. The healing process was slow and painful but we are thrilled to have him back at the farm caring for our livestock. 

We are also excited to be hosting our next dinner this Saturday night, May 13th at 6:00 pm at the beautiful Central Schoolhouse Bed & Breakfast in Geneseo. Because it’s the day before Mother’s Day we have marketed it as a Mother’s Day event but it’s simply a Farm to Table dinner for anyone to attend and enjoy. The tickets are $75 per person and can be purchased by clicking the link below. Central Schoolhouse is managing ticket sales on their website. 

Chef Matthew will be preparing a six course dinner with locally sourced ingredients and featuring many items from the Grateful Graze farm with the main course a Roasted Airliner Chicken Supreme. In between courses Monte will share with our guests insights on how we move and care for the animals, and the benefits of regenerative farming. It’s more than a meal. We want you to enjoy a really great dinner, gain firsthand knowledge about the future of farming, and leave knowing that the money you spent made a difference. Whether or not we continue to do dinners depends on your response and attendance. We want to focus on things that bring attention to regenerative farming and provide leadership utilizing our gifts and talents. 

We really hope you will join us. Seating is limited and we want to fill it up so don’t delay in getting your tickets purchased before sales end at midnight on Wednesday, May 10th.

See you at the table!


Robyn Bottens

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