Thursday, April 15, 2010

Local Food Talk Around a Local Meal

For a few weeks, we’ve been trying to meet for drinks: Vince Razionale from Formaggio Kitchen, Julia Frost from Chive Events, and myself. We had a lot to talk about—catering and design, American artisanal cheese, sustainable business, and our common love of all things local. But we just can’t decide on a bar.

Finally, Julia emails a marvelous alternative: “Ok- dinner party at my house on Saturday evening. Why? Because we have amazing friends who are vendors, educators, etc and we all have a ton of ideas, thoughts and ways in which to collaborate. We're all young entrepreneurs and cool people in the slow food, local business, sustainability world right here in Boston and North Shore and you need to know each other!”

Reading that I almost drool on my keyboard. Connecting in an intimate setting with young entrepreneurs around slow food and local business? Swoon. Even better, the women from Chive will cook the meal and we all get to… enjoy. I’ve been to my fair share of networking events: MeetUps, TweetUps, Green Drinks... But this seems unique—no name tags, no awkward milling around looking for a friendly face to approach.

Everyone brings something a little different to the meal: two girls Eva and Chelsea from the Friedman School at Tufts who are getting their masters in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition, Vince, the head American artisanal cheese buyer for Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, Julia, Jennifer, Lindsey and Annie from Chive Sustainable Event Design and Catering, Mike and Nate, both local farmers. Without a lot of effort, we maintain both table-wide conversations and more intimate ones. I take the opportunity to spread the word about the Boston Local Food Festival, and to learn about the Food Policy masters at Tufts. One attendee bounces ideas for a business plan off the group, and we each give advice from various experience and perspectives.

And the food… oh my god, the food. The turkey, butterflied and cooked with herbs rubbed under the skin-- so incredibly tender and juicy, and complimented by a stunning array of root vegetables. JalapeƱo polenta cakes and an assortment of brightly-hued sauces. A salad of fresh greens from Tendercrop farm picked just that morning.

Oh, and did I mention cheese? Three sublime cheeses from Formaggio Kitchen for desert along with Taza chocolate, sliced apples, and a Pretty Things beer tasting. I almost cry.

I leave the evening with new friends, new ideas, and renewed enthusiasm for the work I’m doing in the Boston area. To have the opportunity to connect with an amazing group of young entrepreneurs in such a natural, inviting setting makes me realize that others out there must be hungry (no pun intended) for the same thing. All these meetups, tweetups—when maybe what we’re all really after is community.