The Dinner Bell

by Julia Ziegler-Haynes

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        WHEN I FIRST HATCHED THE IDEA FOR THE DINNER BELL, I USED THE TERM 'SUPPER CLUB' BECAUSE IT SOUNDED AT ONCE MYSTERIOUS AND OLD-TIMEY YET ODDLY FAMILIAR. I PICTURED PEOPLE IN A DIMLY- LIT, GRANDIOSE PARLOUR, SLURRING THEIR SPEECH FROM TOO MANY SOUR-SWEET GIMLETS AND SIGNING ALONG TO A WARBLING VICTROLA. BASICALLY I HAD NO IDEA WHAT THE TERM MEANT-- BUT THANK GOODNESS BECAUSE IF I HAD FORESEEN WHAT A VAST AND COMPETITIVE TREND IT WOULD LATER BECOME, I WOULD HAVE BEEN FAR TOO INTIMIDATED TO START MY OWN.
        SO IN MAY OF 2010, WITHOUT ANY FORMAL TRAINING TO SPEAK OF AND WITH ALL THE NAIVETÉ OF A SPRING LAMB, I INVITED FOURTEEN OF MY NEAREST AND DEAREST TO MY HOME TO DINE ON FOUR COURSES COMPRISING OF HAND ROLLED PASTA, HOMEMADE ICE CREAM AND AMARO OVER CRACKED ICE, WITH A TWIST. FROM THEN ON, I WAS HOOKED. NO MATTER THAT I TRUDGED ALONG SLEEPLESSLY FOR DAYS BEFOREHAND, COOKING, CLEANING, MAKING PLAYLISTS, AND COUNTLESS, LAST MINUTE RUNS TO STAPLES TO PRINT MENUS—THE FEELING OF PULLING OFF ANOTHER MEANINGFUL MEAL WAS A POWERFULLY ADDICTIVE ONE.
        I OFTEN REFER TO THE RUSH OF EMOTION AND VULNERABILITY THAT COMES FROM COOKING FOR OTHERS (ONE I LIKEN TO STANDING NAKED IN FRONT OF A ROOM OF PEOPLE WHILE READING YOUR DIARY ALOUD) AS PERFORMANCE ART. THE WORD ART IN THIS CASE IS NOT USED TO OVER EMPHASIZE THE MAGNITUDE OF THE COOKING, BUT TO HIGHLIGHT ALL OF THE INEVITABLE OUTSIDE FACTORS THAT MAKE EACH MEAL UNIQUE. NO TWO DISHES ARE EXACTLY ALIKE AND MOST RECIPES AND TECHNIQUES WERE USED FOR THE FIRST TIME THE EVENING THEY WERE SERVED TO THE TABLE. IT WAS CRAZY AND FUN AND MADDENING ALL AT ONCE AND I’M SO GRATEFUL FOR MY BLISSFUL OBLIVIOUSNESS THAT ALLOWED ME TO DO IT MY WAY.  AFTER FOUR YEARS OF MONTHLY DINNERS, THE DINNER BELL NOW WORKS IN CONJUNCTION WITH PRIVATE CLIENTS FOR SPECIAL EVENTS—GO TO THE INQUIRIES PAGE TO GET IN TOUCH!

                                       xx Julia