The Art of Dinner (at the Grove Park Inn)

 Ashville's Historic Grove Park Inn

Ashville's Historic Grove Park Inn

Last night, several artists in Asheville's River Arts District were asked to take part in a very special dinner at Asheville's Grove Park Inn. We each submitted a piece of our art to the executive chef along with an explanation of our technique and the story behind the piece. Then the chef created a course of the dinner that was inspired by the art and the story. What an amazingly creative idea! And the ultra cool part of it is that this was all put on for the Dallas Cowboy's!

The painting I submitted was one of my favorites: "Stroll Through the Birch Trees". The inspiration for this piece is from one summer up in British Columbia (Canada) at Francois Lake when I was a teenager. We were staying on a family farm (an ancient log cabin) on the lake, and there were fields of wheat right on the lake. But there were also "upper fields" which you could only get to via a walk through the now overgrown forest path. One sunny morning after a rainstorm the night before, I explored this path and it was magical. Sun rays were glinting off the mist rising from the forest floor. I remember the smells of the woods, of damp, of water, of pines and birches...this is what became the inspiration behind this painting. 

Dinner was spectacular. I've never eaten food like this. There were more eating utensils around my plate than I'd ever seen (except on Downton Abbey maybe). The company, the friends, the art, the music -- what an honor to have been a part of it! 

So to help you get an idea of how this all went down...here are some photos! Bon appetit!

FIRST COURSE

 Matt Tommey's basket/art sculpture was pared with smoked foie Gras macaroon, black garlic dirt, apple honeycomb and micro flowers.

Matt Tommey's basket/art sculpture was pared with smoked foie Gras macaroon, black garlic dirt, apple honeycomb and micro flowers.

SECOND COURSE

 My painting ("Stroll Through the Birch Trees") was pared with salsify, fennel, pea tendrils, local cheese and smoked onion ash. Note: there was fog coming from the bottom plate, wafting up around the pea tendrils. Amazing!!

My painting ("Stroll Through the Birch Trees") was pared with salsify, fennel, pea tendrils, local cheese and smoked onion ash. Note: there was fog coming from the bottom plate, wafting up around the pea tendrils. Amazing!!

THIRD COURSE

 The wood sculpture of Melissa & Graeme Engler was pared with braised butternut squash, garden crust, pickled melon jus, basil cream and local snap pea.

The wood sculpture of Melissa & Graeme Engler was pared with braised butternut squash, garden crust, pickled melon jus, basil cream and local snap pea.

FOURTH COURSE

 John Almaguer's Venetian glass vase was pared with sous vide beef tenderloin, sweet pea puree and butter poached North Carolina shrimp.

John Almaguer's Venetian glass vase was pared with sous vide beef tenderloin, sweet pea puree and butter poached North Carolina shrimp.

DESSERT

 Hayden Wilson's Venetian glass vase was pared with vanilla cheesecake, blueberry cream puff, blueberry compote, with chocolate Chantilly and lemon sauce.

Hayden Wilson's Venetian glass vase was pared with vanilla cheesecake, blueberry cream puff, blueberry compote, with chocolate Chantilly and lemon sauce.

What a night. I'm dieting today, but not too strict -- these portions last night were small, but I have to say, it's the best tasting food I've ever had. This was gastronomic art at it's best.