Where does your food come from? For many, the answer might be–sarcastic or otherwise–the supermarket.
But, where did it come from before it was wrapped in plastic and put on the shelf? That is just one element to the Highlands Dinner Club's inaugural , from 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 30, at .
The Highlands Dinner Club, founded by the LiMN Architects group, was formed in 2009 as a way for participants to experience what some may call the lost art of sitting around a table, breaking bread with friends. The Sunday Supper Series is an extension of that idea, said Benjamin Walmer, one of the group's founders.
Proceeds of the event will benefit Sustainable Morristown, led by Morristown resident . "It should be a very fascinating event," he said. "It's very exciting to bring our local community together with regional food innovators, chefs from here, and chefs elsewhere.
"Some, more than others, understand the food connections to sustainable choices and lifestyles," Miller said, noting one of the displays that will be presented include the "Lexicon of Sustainability," 24 large posters complete with quotes, facts and other information on different components of sustainability.
In addition, participants will be able to speak with both participating farmers and chefs, and, of course, "there will be delicious food and drink," Miller said.
As the first such event, the dinner club did not want to restrict participants to just Morris County since, "the food system is much more complicated and extends beyond county borders," Walmer said.
Mikey Azzara, founder of Zone 7, a Lawrenceville-based company that delivers farm products from around New Jersey and connects them to grocers and restaurants in both The Garden State and eastern Pennsylvania, will be at the Sunday event. "They wanted me to come and be able to speak on behalf of what's happening with the farm-to-table movement in New Jersey," he said.
"I think these events are great because it really shines a spotlight on the chefs and restaurants that are featuring New Jersey farm fresh ingredients," Azzara said. "That's definitely part of our mission–to promote and spread the word. I think it's a great opportunity for the public to find out about it."
Stephen DeMarco, corporate chef for Villa Enterprises, which includes in Morristown and The Black Horse Tavern in Mendham, said over his 25-year career in the restaurant business, the responsibility of keeping the money flowing locally as much as possible has gained a lot more real estate in his business model. "Whether it's a local coffee roaster, a local farm and so on, we need to keep the money in the state of New Jersey," he said.
His contribution for the night? Rabbit confit with roasted root vegetables, a sweet marsala reduction and olive oil-roasted beet salad with Gala apples and mint. "I'm extremely excited," DeMarco said.
Despite reaching out with longer arms around the state, Walmer emphasized Morristown and Morris County as "the center of gravity" when it comes to the event. "We want to try to showcase what Morristown and what the county is doing in terms of sustainability," he said.
In that vein, a portion of the event will be dedicated to awards issued to various organizations in the county that have displayed an eye toward sustainability. The Grassroots awards, through the Daily Record newspaper, include on their list of nominees Morristown's own Grow it Green Morristown, which maintains the and
"We are proud to be in the running for an award, we work hard to make Grow It Green Morristown what it is," said Carolle Huber, co-founder of Grow it Green Morristown. "We also know there are many other people, organizations and businesses that deserve to be in the running and are not. We hope that they too will be honored for their efforts at future events."
Walmer said he hopes the Sunday Supper Series will be a seasonal affair, focusing on the foods available locally yearround. "On a Sunday, each season, to benefit very different organizations contributing to sustainability in the region. The first one is a test case."
At the heart of the Sunday Supper Series, and the motto for the Highlands Dinner Club, is, "food makes friends."
"That is universal," Walmer said. "After almost three years, what happens is pretty amazing once you get people around the table. Breaking bread, the experience of coming around to eat together, it's wonderful."
The architect compares dinners to his profession. "Each is unique," he said. "Big projects or small, intimate–you get different combinations of people that know each other, don't know each other. People always connect around the table. They loosen up, have a good time, flow into that fundamental place."
Walmer said he is hoping for a solid turnout at the inaugural event, as he feels the concept of the big Sunday dinner has been in recent years on the decline. "We're doing it less and less, though I feel there's something new emerging," he said. "Slowly but surely."
Tickets for the Highlands Dinner Club "Sunday Supper Series" inaugural event are $100 (). Sales will conclude midday Friday, Oct. 28.