I own a small business called FEAST, which stands forfoodways education at a sustainable table. The concept behind FEAST is that by coming together, and cooking in community, we can learn to appreciate more of the world’s diverse foodways. When we discover more about the world, we discover more about ourselves, and what the true culinary possibilities are for our local lives and kitchens.
What a FEAST looks like
Preplanning I’ve planned the menu for us to cook, and bought and prepped the groceries. My assistant he helped me set up the space, and a dozens of other details beforehand. This entails about 8-10 hours of work.
Gather Ten to twelve people of diverse ages, and cooking abilities sign-up for a FEAST. They arrive at my culinary studio on a Saturday afternoon. We sit around a big table together and introduce ourselves; tell a story if we have one about the kind of food we’re planning to cook. Some people are sophisticated world travelers who have eaten and lived all over the world, while others have less experience, but are eager to learn.
Mini Lessons I give a short talk about the menu, the cuisine and what I’ve learned about cooking it. I’ll often give a demo or two introducing important techniques that we’ll use, and outline our game plan.
Let's Get Cooking
Breaking Into Teams I break the big group intuitively into 3-4 teams and give each two recipes to cook. I try to match experienced cooks with less experienced, friends together, or possible new friends….Then I go around and talk with each group as they’re beginning, explain where we’ll vary from the recipes, usually quite a bit, and what I’m hoping for presentation and flavor wise.
Cooking Together We all start cooking, and it’s so much fun. In the seven years I’ve done this I’ve never had a dud. It’s always a blast. It’s a fairly small space that we cook in, but well organized. People chat and laugh, work hard…The novice cooks learn a lot, and the experienced ones are always broadening their outlooks and ideas.
a Sit Down Feast
Bringing Out The Best After about two and half hours we’ve created six or so different dishes. Everything's from scratch, with our best seasonal local produce. We go all out making appetizers, salads, main dishes, side dishes, breads, desserts, drinks. It’s truly a FEAST. We set a table with linens, candles, take off our aprons, hold hands in silence for a moment of gratitude, and commence eating.
Building Food Conversations The food is always outstanding, and I’m not just saying that. As we eat, each team tells the rest of us how their dishes were made, how it went, what they learned….We talk about what we want to try at home, what was demystified, what we’d do differently next time. This part of the FEAST so relaxed and sometimes goes on for several hours, especially if someone’s brought some wine to share.
Sharing Clean-Up Everyone helps clear up, wash the dishes, we hug with big smiles and happy bellies and go home. From arrival to departure is around 4 hours
We’ve cooked regional menus from India, Peru, Iran, Germany, France, Italy, Japan, Korea, Ethiopia, Turkey, Greece, Russia, Scandinavia, Central America, Mexico, Spice islands, and Burma... the list goes on
I hear over and over from people---
I’ve never cooked in community before, it’s so much fun to cook with others.
I didn’t know the food from ____ could be so fresh. I could do this at home!
I had no idea how to start from scratch, now I do.
Now I see that we can use locally grown food to make these recipes, it doesn’t have to be fancy or exotic,
I’ve never had food this good.
There’s so much wisdom in the world’s kitchens. We need to be wise about food, for our own sake, the planet's and everybody else who shares it.
I introduce fermentation, sourdoughs, culturing, soaking, making stocks, and using all of the plant or animal that we’re eating. I introduce produce and bulk foods that are familiar but underused. I take them out into my garden and show them seeds, stems, roots…. I take them all the way in and down to what real cooking is like.
FEAST's aim is to enrich your culinary life by allowing you to dive into diverse world cuisines and discover the wisdom of the world’s kitchens.
I alway feel a full happy heart after a FEAST. Which is my measure that I’m in the right business.