Let’s say you felt that someone important out there had the wrong impression of you. You want to cultivate a better relationship, maybe even hit the reset button on that relationship. A time-tested way to do that is over dinner, especially a dinner you’ve ginned up to be pretty special.
That’s essentially the idea behind the French Market’s inaugural Summer Harvest Gala, a party and dinner scheduled for next Wednesday, June 4, that doubles as an invitation to take a new look at the historic, multifaceted marketplace.
It’s also a prelude to the Creole Tomato Festival, which will be held at the market June 7-8. That annual festival is getting a makeover this year (look for our preview next week), and that starts by convening this Summer Harvest Gala in the French Market’s covered, open-air vendors hall itself.
“To kick things off, I thought let’s just sit down together and eat like family,” said Jon Smith, executive director of the French Market Corp.
The meal is family style, with tables sharing large platters for each course, and it will be prepared by two chefs recently lauded by the James Beard Foundation. That would be La Petite Grocery chef Justin DeVillier, a nominee for this year’s James Beard Award for Best Chef: South; and Peche Seafood Grill chef Ryan Prewitt, who won that award. They’re joined by Nathanial Zimet, chef of Boucherie, and the pastry chefs Bronwen Wyatt of La Petite Grocery and Jess Stokes of Maurepas Foods.
Since taking the helm of the city-run French Market Corp. last fall, one of Smith’s goals has been to reintroduce New Orleanians to the market and reinvigorate its potential as a social and culinary hub for the city. Last week, for instance, the market announced a deal to start a new edition of the Crescent City Farmers Market on its grounds this fall.
The Summer Harvest Gala is part of that larger plan, and with its mission, the high-caliber culinary names involved and the unique setting it’s an intriguing invitation indeed.
The evening starts at 6:30 p.m. with a cocktail hour handled by the crew from noted drinks destination Cane & Table, while Abita Brewing provides its seasonal “harvest series” beers. Guitarist John Rankin and local swamp pop/R&B outfit the Creole String Beans perform and there will be an auction for crates of Creole tomatoes, reviving an old tradition from the festival’s past.
Tickets, $100 per person, are available at FrenchMarket.org. Click the Creole Tomato Festival link.