Several of the tomatoes used were identified on last night's menu. Here is a little bit of info about each.
Cherokee Purple - this one is near and dear to my heart! Back in 1990, J D Green of Sevierville, TN sent me a letter with a packet containing a very few seeds. The simple note - "here is a purple tomato that the Cherokee Indians gave my neighbor's family 100 years ago. Hope you like it." Well, I grew it, marveled at the color (it was the first tomato that approached purple of my experience), and was delicious. I saved seed and sent it to Jeff McCormack, who then owned Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. He grew it, saved seeds, and sent me the comment "it is kind of ugly, but tastes good - maybe people will like it". I think they do!
Cherokee Green - In 1995, one of my Cherokee Purple plants produced tomatoes that tasted like and were the same size as Cherokee Purple, but they instead turned a rich, mahogany color. I thought it was a bee-produced cross - I saved seeds and grew it out the following year and it came true, so I named it Cherokee Chocolate. I sent some seeds to a fellow seed saver, Darrell Merrill. He liked it, saved seeds and sent me back some. The following year I grew a few of his saved seeds - one plant produced tomatoes of the same size and shape, but they stayed green! Again - was it a cross? Saved seeds came true, and I named it Cherokee Green. It is my favorite green fleshed-when-ripe tomato!
Kellogg's Breakfast - all we know about the history is that it originated with Darrell Kellogg of Redford, Michigan. It was shared with, and introduced to seed savers by, long time Seed Savers Exchange member and tomato grower extraordinaire Bill Minkey of Darien, Wisconsin. True large orange tomatoes are not common, and this is many peoples' favorite.
Hazel Mae - this large yellow tomato with red streaks is not all that well known, and we don't know all that much about it. The origin is a fellow named Jerry Moomaw of Gloucester, Ohio, who obtained the seed from his grandmother. It first surfaced in the Seed Savers Exchange in 1997. It is very similar to other large yellow tomatoes with red streaks, such as Ruby Gold, Pineapple, and Regina's Yellow.
Red Zebra - this is a sister tomato to Green Zebra - it looks very much like the tomatoes Tiger Tom and Tigerella. It originated with Jeff Dawson of California in the late 1990s, who selected it as an off-type in a planting of Green Zebra - so it is likely just a bit of remaining instability in the variety Green Zebra, which is a fairly recently developed tomato (by Tom Wagner in the 1980s by crossing several tomatoes and selecting the offspring).
Azoychka - this wonderful, zingy tasting bright yellow tomato originated in Russia, and was bred there by hobby gardener Valentina Petrovna Kruglova. It first came into the Seed Savers collection in the early 1990s - I was one of the first to grow it, having obtained it at a SSE convention that I attended in Iowa just after they received the seed.
Lillian's Yellow Heirloom - another one that is near and dear to my heart....this tomato was sent to me as "Lillian's Large Yellow #2" by a New York seed saver, Robert Richardson, in 1989. I gave it a proper name, fell in love with it after I grew it, and sent it to a few seed companies, as well as shared it with many fellow seed savers. It is quite unique in being a rare pale yellow, large fruited variety on a potato leaf plant. The fruits have hardly any seeds!
Jaune Flamme - in 1992, a rather mysterious letter came in the mail from Norbert Perrier in France, hand written with a long list of obscure tomato varieties. Carolyn Male in New York got a similar letter. Between the two of us, we went through the letter tne chose about 20 varieties each to request. A few that I requested have become quite well known, such as Cuostralee. Jaune Flamme was one that Carolyn requested, and she shared the seed with me. It is one of those tomatoes that is perfectly sized for stuffing, and is unusual in having quite a tart flavor.
Sungold - Does anything more need to be said about Sungold? It is a Japanese hybrid that was first carried in the US by Johnny's Selected Seeds in 1991. Because it is a hybrid, the parents of the variety are a secret. Many seed savers have tried to save seed and get a non-hybrid representation. But nothing tastes like Sungold! It has to be experienced to be believed!
See what you get to experience when you attend a Zely and Ritz tomato dinner!