Every once in a while we get asked to cater a small, intimate dinner in a client’s home…these special gatherings can range from milestone birthdays to celebrations of promotion or retirement and many “just because” occasions in between. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to enjoy the company of Anne Chiles, her family, and Kevin & Rhonda Gentry at The James Madison Chiles House in Kenilworth, a home that already holds happy memories for the Colorful Palate as it was where Ragan & Phil were married just over a year ago.
Anne had been thinking of her coming “milestone” birthday, (no, I’m not going to tell you which one!) and her one and only wish was to celebrate with her family at her husband’s family home place, The Chiles House. Anne’s father-in-law, J.M. Chiles, was the developer of the Kenilworth area and built this house for his family. Kevin and Rhonda, the current owners (as well as clients and friends of The Colorful Palate), were thrilled to open their home to such a gracious and endearing family.
The evening began with a tour through the house comparing notes on what “was” and what now “is”…Kevin knows a lot of history of the house, but hearing the family’s childhood stories were especially enthralling! While on the tour, they all enjoyed wine chosen by Tripp, Anne’s son, which had been embellished with special “House” wine labels designed by Kathy, along with some yummy hors d’oeuvres. The entire delicious, comfort food menu for this ” family affair” had been personally selected by Anne and her daughter Kathy a few weeks before the dinner, when they came to visit us at the kitchen.
Right on schedule (Thanks Kathy!), the family sat down to dinner in the old family dining room. As they ate they took turns sharing their favorite memory of the house…the entire family, as well as Kevin & Rhonda, all joined in by adding personal details, poking fun at each other. Most stories ended with a round of belly laughs and smiles! It was awesome! As I worked quietly in the kitchen and overheard the dinner conversation winding along the home’s fascinating history by way of its family’s memories, Chiles family antidotes, and the Gentry’s grand restoration, I became teary eyed a few times! (REALLY!) It was so completely obvious, even to this “eavsdropper”, that Anne, the birthday girl and residing matriarch of the Chiles family, had raised her children to cherish family values, hard work, good food, life-long friends, and the importance of love!
I want to personally thank Anne & Kathy for involving me in this memorable night! It is evenings like this that remind me of why I love to cook for friends, family, and even strangers (soon to be friends)! An old housemate of mine once told me that when you are feeding someone, you are sharing one of the the most intimate parts of yourself that you can with that person. I will always cherish Anne’s birthday and the fact that I got to share such an important day with this family!
I think part of our mission statement sums it up quite well:
What happens when your friends (and family) get together?
They talk. They laugh. Sometimes they might cry. They share frustrations and joys. They share ideas. They argue. They debate. They affect each other’s outlooks. They encourage. They reminisce. They give advice. They take advice. They ignore advice, and the next time they get together they talk about how they should have taken that advice. This is why we cater.