Chef Nicole Gossling has been having her Secret Supper Club for a while now. You might have even read about it around here. Gossling has always worked to source much of her food directly from local farmers, but tomorrow night she is doing something she has never done before: hosting a 100 percent locally sourced dinner. You heard me: local meats, cheeses, and produce, the whole she-bang.
Something else that is new: Gossling will be working with vegetables she grew herself at the Deep Ellum Urban Gardens, or DUG. (Not sure where the E went in that acronym, but whatever.)
There are still a few seats left for tomorrow night's dinner. Cost is $85 plus gratuity and, as always, it's BYOB. You can email her at firstname.lastname@example.org by 4 p.m. today to snag a seat.
I asked Nicole a few questions about her garden plot and how it has affected her cooking.
Tell me a little about your plot at DUG. This is my first try at growing vegetables and it has been quite a learning experience. Holly Warner of My Private Chef and I share a 4-by-8 plot and I am out there about three days a week weeding, watering and now harvesting. We get a lot of direct sunlight so some plants dried up while the rest of it shot up overnight. It's amazing how different vegetables respond to the same environment.
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What have you learned from growing your own food? Any surprises? It isn't so much what I have learned, as the feeling I get from cooking with food I grew myself that has surprised me. Growing, harvesting, preparing, cooking and finally serving food to my guests is one of the proudest feelings I have ever had. I have always taken pride in food and cooking, but when your hands have literally been the only ones to touch the food until it is served, it takes it to a whole other level. For me, food is an expression of love, and growing my own food only adds another dimension and layer to that love.
Any vegetables in particular that excite you right now? The Sun Gold tomatoes we are growing are amazing right now! They will be on the menu assuming I don't eat them all between now and then. I'm also excited about all the peppers I'm getting from my friends and neighbors. I'll be cooking with marconi, jalapeño, jaloro and serrano peppers.
Why is working with local producers important to you? I like to have a personal connection with the people growing and raising the food I cook. I have visited or volunteered at the farms and ranches of many of my sources. These small independent farms practicing organic and bio-dynamic farming are working hard to get us the best tasting quality ingredients while simultaneously working with nature, not against it. They are also working very hard to support their families. I support them, they support me, and together we build up our local community.
What have you learned since starting your own supper club? Never trust that people who click "attending" on a Facebook event will actually be there. That can mess up your planning for sure. I have also learned that solid relationships and networks happen over a great family style meal. The most rewarding part of every dinner is the end when guests invite me to sit down, enjoy a glass of wine and talk food. It's also a great feeling when they leave and want to give me a hug and tell me how full and happy they are. That kind of feedback and relationship is priceless.