Each fall, Community Table volunteers shift into high gear. Co-chairs Linda Walbridge and Jasmine Comer spend nearly a year putting the dinner together in their quest to showcase local cuisine.
“It’s like a wedding without the guest list,” says Walbridge.
Their work always pays off: the premier farm-to-table event brings together local chefs, farmers, artisans, and community members for a good cause and a good time.
This year, the event is on Sept. 29 at the Cadillac Service Garage, a hip event space off Market Street, whose contemporary, industrial fixtures fit the modern Southern theme. A cocktail hour kicks off the evening with libations from Little Brother Brewing, Fainting Goat Spirits, and Greensboro restaurant Gia, North Carolina’s first producer of the Italian liquor grappa. Guests also munch on small bites and smoke cigars from Havana Phil’s Cigar Company off Battleground.
The noshing, imbibing, and mingling continue with a four-course dinner featuring Southern food with a twist. Executive chef Anders Benton of Gia and chef Ryan Loflin of Ugly Dumplin NC pair fig preserves from Sassafras Farms in Germanton with pheasant from Joyce Farms in Winston-Salem, a farm known for its “whole animal” use, which includes a “crunchy component,” says Benton.
In the second course, chefs Kevin Cottrell and Lydia Greene of Machete supper club prove that charcoal-roasted beets from Harmony Ridge Farms in Tobaccoville can command attention. A succulent, flavorful adaptation of oxtail stew, made with grass-fed beef from Summerfield Farms, comprises the third course, thanks to Chris Blackburn of Steak Street and Coast and Nick Benshoff of Bandito Bodega.
Courses are served with artisan sourdough bread from Breadservice in Greensboro, and the meal ends with colorful macarons by Brittany McGee of The Humble Bee Shoppe in Winston-Salem.
Between courses, the chefs tell the story behind each dish — how it came together and why it’s important. The up-and-coming chefs were chosen specifically for their proximity to the Triad and their farm-to-table approach to cooking.
“These chefs are passionate and want to see change — they want to break the mold,” says Benton. “They are ready to educate people about good food that is local. We want local farmers and chefs to connect and to keep working together.”
The guests they serve come from many walks of life: business professionals, food writers, restaurateurs, city council members, and those who appreciate fellowship with like-minded folks.
“People always gather in kitchens at parties. Community Table brings people together, too,” says Lynn Wooten, vice president of marketing and public relations at Well-Spring Retirement Community. “You see folks you know and meet others you don’t around vast tables loaded down with one course after another of superb, creative food by some of the best chefs around. This event is tremendously fun and relaxed, it’s a culinary adventure, and embodies the true sense of ‘community.’ What more could you look for in an evening out?”
But Community Table is not only local foodies’ party of the year; it enables nonprofit Triad Local First to continue programs that promote the importance of supporting locally owned businesses.
“Shining a light on local farms and restaurants as well as local shops and providers is our mission,” says Luck Davidson, board chair of Triad Local First. “And people are starting to understand why we do what we do.”