You know it's a good party when the guests, many of them strangers to one another, start passing around the bottles of bourbon, pulling swigs off of the handles together and using spare condiment bowls on the table as sipping glasses. To say that the guests in attendance at our Arnold's Supper were beyond fun and enthusiastic would be an understatement. The air in the room that night was simply spectacular. I think, though, that you're hard pressed to be anything other than lighthearted and jovial in a place like Arnold's. The mood under that roof is likely the best and most authentic vibe I've ever, ever had the pleasure of working around. It's like being at your grandmama's house. It's like being home; so easy to feel welcomed. Kahlil Arnold, our friend and BMR/Arnold's liason is like that, too: genuine, easy going, good natured and brings out the best in every conversation. Cooking at Arnold's felt like being a part of a national (or at least citywide) treasure for just a moment. It was an honor and so much damn fun that it took me a few days to come down from the serious high that the good, good people that joined us left me with.
Also, I think the good energy came from knowing we were cooking for people who really care about the state of our farming communities and, also, who care for the farmer's themselves. Many of our guests were Land Trust of Tennessee employees and just knowing that we were all coming together to support such a good cause as Eat Green Tennessee sure made for some lovely commraderie. I'd like to thank my dear friend Caitlin Mello for not just being one of the most top-notch people I know but for also being such a go-getter in things that matter - like the Land Trust of Tennessee. I know it's her job, but she does it with such sincere enthusiasm and grace (Hard to find, people. Hard to find...) that you just can't believe she's real sometimes. I'm continually overwhelmed by the truly inspiring people I have around me at all times. I feel lucky and damned humbled by it all. So, thank you Caitlin, Kahlil and the ever fabulous Teresa Mason of Mas Tacos Por Favor for being such integral parts of this whole experience. And very big thanks to Leia Buchanan and my always right hand gal Jessica Cheatham for getting all the details right for me (also hard to find...) and to the badass that is Robin Riddell Jones at PettiRosso Wine Consulting and to everyone at Woodland Wine Merchant for always, always, always making sure we have the best whistle wetters possible for our Suppers.
Lastly, but most certainly not least: Andrea Behrends. Girl. Seriously. You sure know how to make them camera boxes work.
One of my favorite parts of Buttermilk Road is getting to work with other creative people. I was an artist (specifically a painter who occasionally clicked a camera) and an arts writer prior to finding myself in a kitchen full time. Having people around me who can make this experience a full circle for me is such a gift. I don't have photographers come because I want to PR or social media this experience to death. I have a photographer come because having visual documentation of each experience is so important to me as someone who can't really feel satiated unless all senses are met with satisfactory experiences. These suppers are as much about the people who attend and the faces and colors and the buildings as they are about the food I'm preparing. And that is important to document. And, gaddam it, if I don't know some of the most talented photographers in the South in which to document these things. I can't thank Andrea enough for being there to shoot this (and for washing a butt load of dishes and clearing plates and helping to drink some tequila). You're a dream. And I can't thank you enough for the love you have for what you do.
Enjoy her images. And thank you again to all that joined us. It really was something special. LD