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The New Guard – Dinner and More

I appreciate and enjoy unusual dining experiences and, in fact, often search for the new or up and coming.  I like things with a twist to them.  I especially like them when they are done well and if there is creativity and a little gamble involved.  At the risk of sounding like an old fuddy-duddy (which even those words imply) I am especially impressed when a younger person or people are the driving force behind the project.  All of those things are true for a new type of event that is now occurring on roughly a monthly basis here in the Seattle area. 
A group of friends have come together to promote what they call the New Guard.  The events center around a dinner but are much more than just a dinner.  These are community events that combine art, conviviality and music into one very entertaining evening.  The friends have divided up the duties according to each of their areas of expertise.  Two people select the art for the evening, one the chef for the night and the fourth is tasked with securing the musical artist.  The focus here is on the new, the up and coming, and/or those who bring their own twist to the celebration in some way.  
Let me tell you about a recent evening I spend at a New Guard event.  It was the group’s second or third event and, I believe, their largest one to date.
We met at the Canoe Social Club in the International District (locations change).  Once checked in we entered the large space filled with a table set for 65, twinkling with tea lights.  At the front of the room was a small stage, where a gentleman was setting up turntables.  At the back of the room was a bar where most people were gathered as they waited to order a cocktail, glass of wine or beverage of some sort.  The dinner is included in the ticket price but beverages are additional. Soon after our arrival several small tables near the bar were laden with new takes on retro appetizers – more about those in a minute.  To one side of the tables there was a display from the evening’s featured artist. 
For the first hour or so the crowd mingled, enjoyed the appetizers, studied the graphite drawings and wandered around the room.  Then we moved to the tables for the dinner.  The menu was displayed on an easel at the front of the room and was also explained by the night’s chef.  A small note here, dinner was served family style and they were not able to accommodate special requests.  As dinner started winding down towards dessert the music began and continued for an hour or so. 
The entire evening was fascinating, delicious, entertaining and invigorating.  And I loved that I was exposed to information, ideas and people that are not necessarily in my normal realm. 
The visual art highlighted work by Amanda Manitach.  Several detailed yet nearly abstract graphite drawings were on display. 
The art of the table was prepared by Dana Cree, currently Poppy’s pastry chef.  The aforementioned appetizers were creative takes on cheese balls, onion dip, homemade chips and more.  The dinner, a play on a traditional holiday dinner, featured two types of country ham with an assortment of sauces, Chinese long beans, roasted yams and biscuits.  Dessert featured an assortment of pies and we were able to sample them all. 
Fatal Lucciauno was our musical artist of the evening. His hip-hop and rap selections focus on local concerns, issues and events and his ability to improvise on the spot was fun to see. 
Since dinner is served family style on long tables you have the opportunity to meet and talk with those around you.  On this night we were lucky enough to be seated across from Jerry Traunfeld and his partner Stephen. I think it speaks highly of his regard for Dana that Chef Traunfeld, joined the dinner while his own restaurant, Poppy, was having a busy night. 
There are more New Guard events coming up in the near future.  If you attend be prepared to spend a full evening at the event.  The cocktail hour started at 7:00 pm, dinner was served around 8:15 pm and the music started about 10:00 pm.  I needed to leave at 10:30 pm – my dining partner had an early day the next day – but the event was not yet near starting to wind down.  To find out about the events and for a chance to attend add your name to the mailing list on their site
There are a few more photos here

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