Interactive Dinner Party — Southern Style

As I’ve previously written, my wife and I host an interactive dinner party for my law firm each summer.  The primary purpose of this party is to ensure that everyone in attendance plays some role in the production of the dinner, whether it’s prepping, plating, busing, or shaking cocktails.  That way, we put people in situations that are a bit different from our office environment, such as when a first year associate is telling our managing partner that he’s screwing up the composition of the plate.  It’s a multi-course affair, and with the exception of one year when I did Louisiana-inspired food, I’ve made Italian fare.  That’s because Italian is easy, particularly for a big crowd.

This year, however, I’m doing something different — Southern food.  Some of my chef friends gave me some ideas for dishes, and then I got other inspirations from items that are fresh at the market.  Here’s my tentative menu (the dinner is on the 14th), listing who provided or inspired the idea.  If no one is listed, then I’ve sort of pulled that one together from multiple sources.  I’d appreciate comments and suggestions, particularly if there’s a way to make it easier on myself.  There will be 34 guests this year.  Eek!


Blackberry Collins –Vodka infused with Lyon Farms Blackberries, House-made Sour, Club Soda  (inspired by Karen Barker of Magnolia Grill, but I’m likely using this for the SFA Potluck on Monday) -OR-

Whiskey Barrel Punch — Bourbon, pomegranate, lemon, Angostora bitters, sparkling wine

Hors d’Ouevres

Smoked deviled eggs with trout caviar – Ashley Christensen, Poole’s Diner, Raleigh, NC

Country ham and cheddar pretzel bites – Edward Lee, 610 Magnolia, Louisville, KY


Roasted Figs, Celebrity Dairy Goat Cheese, Allan Benton’s aged country ham

Green tomato soup with lump crab, Benton’s bacon and tomato relish – Ben Barker, Magnolia Grill, Durham, NC

Creamed Collard and goat cheese ravioli with smoked turkey consommé– John Currence, City Grocery, Oxford, MS

Shrimp n’ corn – NC Shrimp with creamed corn, duck cracklins, okra

Lamb Loin, Pink Eye Pea and Zucchini Salad, Tomato-mint jam


Brown sugar pound cake with roasted peaches and molasses crème fraiche – Karen Barker, Magnolia Grill, Durham, NC

I may throw in an intermezzo course of a slice of watermelon with heirloom tomato and some Pheta from Chapel Hill Creamery, inspired by Bill Smith’s great salad at Crook’s Corner.


One Response to Interactive Dinner Party — Southern Style

  1. Varmint says:

    The final menu changed a bit, due to availability of ingredients and compatibility of flavors. We dropped the cocktails altogether, as we ended upe with some kick ass wine.

    We used salmon roe instead of trout roe with the deviled eggs.

    We got rid of the fig dish altogether, as my in-laws’ fig trees didn’t have enough ripe fruit. So I did a fairly fancy composed watermelon, tomato and pheta (Chapel Hill Creamery) salad.

    The shrimp and corn evolved into a fairly standard shrimp and grits, but the cream corn was folded into the grits, and my buddy Alan made this incredible sauce, with reduced and seasoned shrimp stock added to a beurre monte. Wow.

    The pound cake changed slightly, and it was served with peaches, peach ice cream my 9-year old daughter made, and a bourbon caramel sauce.

    It was a very nice meal, and everyone had a great time.

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