It all began with an assignment. My editor at 225 Magazine requested a review of the cookbook/foodie biography Dinner with Tennessee Williams, which is presented by a writer (Troy Gilbert), a chef (Greg Picolo from the Bistro at Maison de Ville) and a Tennessee Williams scholar (Dr. W. Kenneth Holditch). Gibbs Smith, the publisher, did a fabulous job with the presentation of the book – my intellectual side enjoyed the essays and the food photos made my mouth water.
But when I sat down to write my review, I realized there was more work to be done. How could I review a book containing recipes without trying out a few in the kitchen? While I enjoy cooking, my kitchen is pretty depressing. Also, with three professional cooks in my family, I’ve learned to cook instinctively (by taste and touch) and have never been very good at following recipes. I was intimidated, truthfully, because I knew that to review the book properly, I would have to follow those recipes. And so I reached out to Jamey for help. She’s the foodie between us, cooking more often than not and keeping a well-stocked kitchen. Luckily for me, she was agreeable.
The Tennessee Williams Festival was almost upon us as I was reviewing the book and my next brainstorm was that we HAD to cook the recipes during the Festival. And! Wait! It would HAVE to be a dinner for writers, so I would have to wrangle up some of those to eat with us.
It was crazy. I was crazy. But once I get a great idea, I just can’t let go of it, so I had to make it work. I’m lucky enough to have an editor who lets me run with crazy ideas on occasion and 225 has been, for me, the perfect venue for my most outlandish and creative schemes.
Luckily again, I was able to recruit Maurice and Kiki Whang to attend our dinner. Kiki also agreed to take pictures at our dinner as she is an amazing photographer in addition to being a wonderful writer and all around fun dining companion.
So, Jamey and I sat down to select our menu. Considering our tight budget and an even tighter timeline due to my crazy scheme, we picked three of the simplest recipes. Jamey was thoughtful enough to point out recipes with ingredients that were already available in her kitchen, which cut down on the expense and preparation.
The day of our Tennessee Williams dinner arrived, the last day of the festival, a Sunday. Jamey was the chef and I was her sous chef. She didn’t really need my help, I mostly got in the way, but it was fun to sip wine and watch Jamey whip up these dishes. I absolutely couldn’t have pulled it off without her and the company of our guests really elevated the evening into something we’ll have to do again in the future!
You can read the finished review at 225‘s website and below, you’ll find pictures and videos of every step of our dinner. Kiki has graciously allowed me to post some of her photos. The others were taken by me either on my phone camera or on Jamey’s camera. Enjoy!
Check out this hypnotic video of Jamey mincing garlic. There is sound, but you may have to turn up your volume to catch it.
All of our prep came together when Jamey started to bread and fry the chicken breasts for the chicken bonne femme. Check out this video (apologies that it’s sideways, I couldn’t figure out how to get it right side up):
Our distinguished guests arrived and we tucked in:
Our Tennessee Williams Dinner
Check out this slideshow of our evening:
Hey everyone, let’s do it again sometime!