Community Table to feature Old Mill of Guilford

by Kristi Maier


Imagine dinner under the stars at dusk in a setting where local goodness happens every day. That is the spirit behind Triad Local First’s Community Table.

The 5 th annual Community Table will take place on Sunday, October 4 at the Old Mill of Guilford in Oak Ridge. The dinner is a fundraiser that benefits the Triad Local First “Buy Local” campaign, which runs November through December. It’s one single night that is months in the making. It is not simply a meal that features a local superstar chef dishing out multiple courses with pairings. In fact, the Community Table needs an actual community to bring it all together. Everything, from the venue to the food, to the china and the décor, is donated or on loan. Every ingredient, sip of wine or beer””all are contributed by local business owners, members of Triad Local First, to make it complete. Even the chef donates his time. This year’s featured chef is Tim Thompson, owner of the soon-to-be Essen, currently being planned in Greensboro next year.

Chef Thompson says it’s not just a big dinner, but really a year-round deal. “I’m blown away at how many moving parts go into play for this event. You think, as chef, ‘oh, it’ll be a fun meal for 150 people,’ and it is, but when you get into the logistics, you realize there’s a lot more to it. You have to plan for best case scenario and worst case scenario.” Organizers have had monthly meetings since January and are currently putting some finishing touches on tastings and pairings, lighting, tablescapes and parking. There will be off-site parking and shuttles bringing folks into the mill site, as well as an off- duty officer to direct traffic. For a little added fun, Greensboro residents can park at Zeto Wine, enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne and take the bus to the Mill.

The five-course meal is cooked on-site and completely locally-sourced, but Thompson decided to go one step further. “We’re really trying to incorporate the Old Mill of Guilford in every course. Taking muffin mixes and turning it into cake for dessert, for instance, to keep that local vibe going,” he says. “We want the Mill to shine in every course.” Samples of products from the Mill used in the menu will be found in the swag bags for guests to take home.

Thompson says that although it’s the fifth year for the Community Table, it’s really the beginning of a new era, “There’s just more thought going into this event. It’s nine months of planning, but really we start thinking about the next year as we finish the current year.” You see, every year is different, featuring a new venue and a different chef. Community Table organizers and volunteers are already seeking out next year’s venue and have already locked in their featured chef for 2016, Chef Travis Myers of River Birch Lodge. Reaching out across the county line for a chef from Winston-Salem? That’s literally a step in a new direction for Triad Local First, which has been focused mainly on Guilford County until now.

“Our goal is to try and build Community Table and reach across the aisle to folks in Winston-Salem and that’s one of the reasons why we’re glad to have Chef Travis join us next year,” said Community Table board chair Mary Lacklen. “We really want to develop that relationship between Greensboro and Winston-Salem.”

Chef Myers is already on tap to get his feet wet at this year’s Community Table, acting as Sous Chef for Thompson. He’ll be joined by three to four culinary team members and Thompson says he plans on having a “fleet of bright-eyed future culinary professionals on his volunteer staff.”

Purveyors that are taking part thus far are Massey Creek Farm, Pig Pounder Brewing for beer, Zeto Wine, The Shrimp Connection, Libby Hill Seafood, Replacements for china and flatware, and the Old Mill of Guilford, just to name a few. The band, Shiloh Hill will provide entertainment.

“People are really generous. The businesses that get behind us are the driving force behind Community Table,” said board member Allen Odom. !


The 5th Annual Community Table Dinner is Sunday, October 4. Cocktails: 4:30-6:00pm; Dinner Seating: 6:00pm; The Old Mill of Guilford, 1340 NC-68, Oak Ridge Seating is limited. Tickets are $135 and can be purchased at