On Saturday we had our first farm-to-table dinner since September 2019. It might sound cliché to say it was a magical night, but it really was. The farm-to-table dinners we host, AKA the Chef’s Table Experience, always have certain elements.
Setting: We had dinner outside, under our old oak trees, with Edison lights hanging over our heads. The tables were topped with linen tablecloths and simple fall decor. We were thankful for the cooler temperatures and the starry Texas skies. We couldn’t have ordered a nicer evening.
Guests: Our guests were a great mix of ages and professions. It always amazes me how much we end up having in common with people who seem so different from us. Here is a group of people who might never have met without our common desire to come together around the table and experience community. The intimate gathering – a long table of sixteen guests – made it easy to hear everyone during the presentations.
Food and Drink: The Saturday menu teased our taste buds with the flavors of fall. Classes included locally grown / sourced ingredients, many of which came from our own hydroponic garden – greens and herbs that we grew from seeds. The four wines we tasted (each dish was paired with a different wine) were all from Texas vineyards.
Inspirational Art: Every time we host a Chef’s Table experience, a different artist shares their creative journey. Last Saturday our friend Will, an award-winning spoken word artist, teacher and creative director, inspired us to reflect on our own journey as he shared parts of his. Many of us bonded over the play he performed for us later that night.
Photographer: I realized almost too late that we had no one to photograph the event. Generous friends shared the photographer they used for their son’s senior photos. He had several photos taken on and around our property. The rest of the evening, the photographer was with us, capturing candid moments that spoke volumes about our time together.
Everything was perfect ? No. Was there anything we would change? Absoutely. We always want to improve. I learned that I need to do a little more planning and preparation so as not to be in a rush when setting up. I also learned that I needed an assistant on the day of the event. And my biggest takeaway was that if I’m feeling rushed or preoccupied, it’s hard to be present with my guests.
I don’t blame myself for that. I realize that learning is part of the experience – just like tasting the food, connecting with others, and being inspired by a gifted artist.
Sherry Asbury Clark is co-founder of Purdon Groves and a freelance writer. His column, Discovering a Small Town, appears weekly in the Corsicana Daily Sun. You can reach her at [email protected] For more information on Purdon Groves, a farm, table, location, and retreat property, check out purdongroves.com or visit their Instagram or Facebook pages.