Entertaining Inspiration: A Simple Evening in Raleigh
Photos by Mike Gilger
You all know by now how much I love dinner parties. Second to that, I love collaborating with creative friends. A few months ago, I went to Raleigh for one of the most inspiring dinners I've ever had the privilege to attend. (I wrote about the experience for Anthology magazine, if you want the full story!) My good friends Megan and Mike Gilger of The Fresh Exchange orchestrated the event as part of their A Simple Evening series. This farm-to-table dinner was a launch party for Clyde Oak, a company with a refreshing take on gardening. Founded by landscape architect and passionate gardener Corey Mason, Clyde Oak is spearheading a movement towards urban farming. Corey believes that everyone should be able to grow their own food, whether your "plot of land" is a large back yard or a fire escape. He's curated a line of handcrafted gardener's tools–from brightly colored watering cans to a raised bed kit–as well as seed collections and reading material, to help new gardeners get started.
Pimento cheese + sauerkraut and sausage crostini by Capital Club 16; Corey and Shelley Mason.
The entire evening was a collaboration between a tight-knit group of Raleigh friends and entrepreneurs. The dinner was held at Videri Chocolate Factory, a bean-to-bar chocolate factory in downtown Raleigh. (They also provided hand-made chocolates for dessert!) The food, a German-inspired assortment of schnitzel sandwiches, herb-infused carrot and cucumber salads, and a decadent kale grilled cheese, came from Jake and Shannon Wolf, of Capital Club 16, with nearly all of the ingredients sourced from the nearby Commonwealth Farm. The long farm tables were made by Justin Johnson and Matthew Cronheim of Arrowhead Collective and in lieu of chairs, they hauled in discarded tree stumps.
Jenn Elliott Blake and Megan Gilger, styling the table.
Corey and his friend Dave Staples also created White Whale, a sleek line of botanical cocktail mixers. The two friends wanted to create an easy way for cocktail enthusiasts to create top-quality drinks at home. The result are three elixirs – with tongue-in-cheek names like Auntie’s Old Fashioned, The Filthy Liar, and Your Older Brother – meant to be combined in two-to-one ratio with a different spirit (bourbon, gin, and vodka, respectively). Dave mixed up cocktails for everyone pre-party and I could have sworn I was at Little Branch. They were beyond fantastic. (Stay tuned for a future Yellow Table/White Whale cocktail party this summer!)
Dave Staples and Corey Mason, White Whale co-founders.
Jenn's simple herb centerpieces doubled as placeholders; Megan Gilger models the evening's menu.
The styling for the evening was created by the amazing Jenn Elliott Blake. I admire her work so much, and this evening only re-confirmed why! To tie in the garden theme, she potted herbs in an assortment of little vintage glass bottles to use as centerpieces, and included a piece of slate at each place with Clyde Oak's handwritten motto: "This Land is Your Land" (taken from a Woody Guthrie song). She and Megan strung strips of torn denim over the table, and hung an old American flag by the table. She captured the rustic Americana feel of Clyde Oak perfectly.
A farm-to-table feast, prepared by Jake Wolf of Capital Club 16.
A toast! To friendship, to creativity, and to the culture of growing things.
Gorgeous handmade chocolates from Videri.