Dinner Under the Stars with Triad Local First
Triad Local First’s Community Table is a much loved event. That was quite apparent Sunday evening as about 150 supporters joined for another year to celebrate local businesses, restaurants and farms. Community Table is an annual event to help support Triad Local First’s Shop Local Holiday campaign as well as other initiatives. This year, for the first time ever, the executive chef was from Winston-Salem. Chef Travis Myers of Willow’s Bistro lead a culinary superstar team to crank out seven courses. Two appetizer courses (Seafood Paella by Chef Jeff Bannister and Hay Roasted Oysters prepared by Chef Jordan Keiper) were enjoyed during a casual cocktail hour featuring Pig Pounder Brewery, Grove Vineyards, Weathervane Winery (curated by Zeto Wine & Cheese) and Topo Distillery Spirits. And the Brunswick Stew cooked on the Cowboy Cauldron was definitely a sight to behold.
It really was a night of the best that the Triad and North Carolina have to offer. At least a dozen chefs and a dozen more culinary assistants, nearly 40 farms and food purveyors, restaurants, businesses and countless volunteers contributed in some way with their time, donating goods or loaning items from lamb and beef, to produce, grits and even flowers and decor. Of course the farmers who provide the foods are partaking in the supper and celebrated during the evening as well. And it all took place outside at Hidden Lane Farm in Summerfield.
Chef Myers said what makes Community Table special is the people that are all a part of it. “We have a lot of strong chefs in both Winston-Salem and Greensboro and we’re trying to bridge that gap and these chefs are here because they are just as passionate as I am.” Myers added, “And really it’s also about celebrating the farmers because they’re the ones who sweat in the field and make our food beautiful.”
The event was once again organized by Mary Lacklen, the committee chair for Community Table. There’s always lots of activity but it runs so effortlessly, it’s pretty amazing to watch. The food, well it only gets better year after year. With each course packed with seasonal and local ingredients, right down to the salt. And of course, a few wine pairings.
The Supper Menu
Kettle Brunswick Stew
Rabbit, Pit Pork, Butter Beans, Corn, Okra
Cooked in the Cowboy Cauldron, this was probably the best Brunswick Stew I’ve ever had. Granted, I am not the biggest fan, but this stew had everything going for it in a savory, slightly sweet base with delicious rabbit and smoky pork. The veggies stayed al dente. It was a great start to the meal. It was actually big enough to be a meal.
Heirloom Tomato, Charred Bread, Shaved Red Onion, Pea Shoots, Olinda Olives, Vinaigrette
I love panzanella. This dish allowed Chef Myer’s skills with pickled veggies and olives to shine. The bread didn’t get all the way soggy and those briny Olinda Olives were delightful.
Border Springs Pit Cooked Lamb
Rosemary Mop, Hoppin John, Natural Jus
Not the most colorful of the night, but definitely tasty and rustic. That we had Border Springs lamb on the plate and that it was pit cooked is saying something quite special. Not everybody loves lamb. I feel for them. I’ll eat their portion.
Heirloom Tomato and Flat Bean Salad
Heirloom Tomatoes, Haricot Vert, Wax Beans, Micro Beet Greens, Olinda Olive Oil
Goat Lady Dairy Goat Cheese with Scallion Ash
A light and tasty salad in-between the meaty dishes as a nice palate cleanser. And if you are a goat cheese lover, then you’d be very happy with this colorful course.
Heritage Farms Lexington-Style Pit Cooked Hog
Old Mill of Guilford Grits, Kale Salad
One of the favorites of the night. Who doesn’t love a pit-cooked hog. Western style on perfectly cooked grits. We wanted more grits. Who doesn’t want more grits??
Three Hour Braised Short Ribs
Leather Britches, Mashed Potatoes
I told my table mates that this dish reminded me of Christmas dinner because braised short ribs are a tradition at my house. This was my favorite of the main dishes because it was just so homey and tender and succulent. I truly believe that a chef can be inventive and we can enjoy a creative and progressive dish immensely. But sometimes it’s nice to have something simple and delicious. This was that kind of dish. Also what’s leather britches? Myers says, “they’re a dried greasy bean, an old Appalachian method of preservation.”
Orange Creamsicle Mousse Cake (prepared by Pastry Chef Lucia Bobby)
Charred Citrus Confit
This dessert was lightly citrusy and luscious. The mousse was so fluffy with tender cake within. The little citrusy sugar cookie tasted like childhood. Myers says he told Bobby that he wanted something to taste nostalgic. Bobby hit it out of the park and left people wowed, as she often does.
After dinner beverages were provided by The Grinder Coffee Truck and Vida Pour Tea.
Part of the evening is also dedicated to honoring two individuals that have gone above and beyond to contribute to making the Triad a better place. The Vibrancy Award went to Chef Jeff Bacon, of Providence Restaurant and Triad Community Kitchen. Says Chef Myers of the man he says is one of his heroes, “He is the backbone of our culinary community in both Winston-Salem and in Greensboro. He’s a legend and a leader and we all look up to him.” Many of the volunteers on the culinary team for the event are students and staff of Triad Community Kitchen.
The Independent Business Owner Award went to Jim Jones. Jones owned the former North State Chevrolet with his family, but later went on to develop the area where the dealership once stood into the Greenway at Stadium Park and Greenway at Fisher Park. Most recently Jones and his son, Brian, and brewing partner, Mike Rollinson, have opened Joymongers Brewery.
Triad Local First’s Allen Odom says, “Jim never quit and has given a lot of effort and investment into downtown Greensboro to really bring it some vibrancy and help it grow.” Jones said he owes it all to his family and his fathers before him. “I stood on the shoulders of giants,” he said as he accepted his award. “This is special to me, because it’s about small business, which is an energy in this country and what makes this country great. It’s that person who risks everything that they have and gives it their all every day that gives us our identity and makes our town special. That’s the kind of crowd this is and I could not be prouder.”
For more information about Triad Local First, visit triadlocalfirst.org