In many major cities across the country, the idea of “pop-up” dinners – one-night-only dinners hosted at unusual locations – has become very popular. In the fall of 2013, the team here at A Thyme to Cook wanted to bring the idea to Southeastern Connecticut and make it our own.
We called it The TABLE. Being one of only two Green Certified caterers in New England, it was very important to have the pop-up dinners feature creative menus highlighting local foods. We also wanted to make a mystery of not knowing where the dinner was going to be held. We wanted the dinners to be in non-traditional locations, to keep seating limited, and to create a special experience for our guests. In the past, The TABLE has popped up at a country inn, a velvet mill, a castle and an art association.
For the Spring 2014 event, Brian, one of our very gifted Event Coordinators, took his turn at producing The TABLE. He explored the Groton New London airport to scout one of the airplane hangars as a potential location.
Upon visiting, it became clear that the lack of heating and the faint smell of jet fuel in the air would make a hangar a less than ideal location. He worked with Catherine Young, manager of the airport, who suggested he take a look at the main terminal.
This long terminal lent itself well to The TABLE.
Once the terminal was secured, the planning really began. Confidentiality agreements were signed by all parties to protect the secrecy of The TABLE location.
A regional airport falls under both Federal and State regulations, requiring all of their many guidelines to be met.
Seeking travel inspiration, Brian sought out vintage mementos such as tickets and brochures and scoured through galleries for amazing travel photos.
With the airport in play, the theme instantly came to Brian. He knew he wanted to present a five-course international dinner – but how? He considered replicating meals from specific events through history, such as the Bridal Breakfast for Princess Diana or the first meal served on the Concord. After meeting with Chef Rachael it became clear, that a culinary trip around the world was the way to go.
CREATING THE MENU
The menu ideas came naturally to the culinary and events team. They could explore unusual flavor profiles and presentations in an atypical manner.
As with most menus at A Thyme to Cook – they are living documents, open for review as ingredients and ideas change frequently. For this TABLE, the menu was still evolving right up to the day before the dinner, but Rachael loves that about her job (or at least she says!).
Rachael believes that creativity and flexibility are essential to catering and what can really set it apart from other culinary work. She relished the concept of sourcing local ingredients to create an international culinary adventure.
After a lot of hard work, planning and design, the menu was completed and ready for The TABLE.