Downtown's Pavilion at Founders host location for 'Grown & Gathered' farm-to-table fundraiser dinner

Tony Casey • Updated Aug 22, 2016 at 6:10 PM

A combination of peak harvest season in East Tennessee and the gumption of downtown Johnson City-minded individuals has set the table for the Grown & Gathered farm-to-table dinner this weekend.

The $75 tickets are still available for the locally sourced, eight-course Italian meal, served in the Pavilion at Founders on Sunday at 5:30 p.m.

Elise Clair and Jamie Dove, owners of Main Street Pizza Company locations in Johnson City and Kingsport, also farm and manage the River Creek Farm community-supported agriculture program in Limestone.

With the aid of other local farmers, bakers, artisans and artists, the meal will be filled with locally sourced cheeses, meats, hot and cold drinks, vegetables, sweets and fruits.

They’ll be serving the bounty on two long tables in the Pavilion. The fundraiser will raise money to help redesign the old U-Haul-GIANT Foods sign.

The ready availability of electricity, water, cover from the elements and restrooms in the Pavilion removes some of the stress the chefs have dealt with in getting the final details worked out.

“We’ve been pressing all week, and the produce has been rolling in,” Clair said.

Approximately 30 local farms and producers will be sharing their bounty with Clair and Dove, whose staff will help them create a wide range of menu items for the event.

When asked if the guests will get their money’s worth of food, Dove began his answer with a laugh.

“We’re definitely going to be putting out enough food,” he said.

It will be more about pacing than it will be about getting enough food, as family-style serving allows a person to only take what they want to try. Having done this before, Dove enjoyed seeing somewhat shy people make new friends over a plate of his food.

The menu was made public Friday, through the event’s Facebook page, and interest has spiked since then.

Some of the items will be similar to what was on the last farm-to-table CSA dinner menu when Main Street Pizza Company and River Creek Farm hosted a similar event in Kingsport earlier this summer.

But what changes is what’s fresh and seasonal — some of the most important aspects to these farmers.

Some of the menu items include zucchini gnocchi, herbed mushroom tortelloni, pesto porchetta pinwheel, tomato pie, buttermilk chicken saltimboca crepinette and torta caprese and peach budino for post-main course desserts.

Dove said he’s particularly been getting excited to see his crowd’s reaction to the torta caprese, which is a flourless dark chocolate cake, which he credits to baking expertise of Heather Guinn.

Clair said she’s most excited about the smaller, most intricate menu items, particularly because of their kitchen staff’s focus on micro-gastronomy and the careful composition of food over the years.

“You’re going to get the highlights of the summer season,” she said.

Shelly Crowe is helping as one of the main organizers of the event. She’s been working with the Downtown Johnson City Foundation, and sees the combination of the two elements — River Creek Farm and the downtown foundation — as a stellar way to get people behind a great cause.

On one hand, she said, ticket holders will be getting behind a downtown cause that will benefit downtown interests; and on the other, they’ll also get to fill their bellies with some of the best food the region has to offer.

“This is a seasonal feast,” Crowe said. “It's not just about dinner. We wanted to celebrate our local farmers and regional producers.”

Tickets can still be purchased through downtownjc.com. If not ordered online, they can be purchased in person at the Washington County Economic Development office at 300 E. Main Street, Suite 406.

Email Tony Casey at [email protected]. Follow Tony Casey on Twitter @TonyCaseyJCP. Like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tonycaseyjournalist.