This past Sunday evening, the who’s who of Boston chefs, producers, and food and wine lovers gathered at Sam’s at Louis for the annual Lovin’ Spoonfuls Ultimate Tailgate.
Lovin’ Spoonfuls addresses the issue of food waste, which, in addition to being a detriment to people in need, is also an environmental issue.
Ashley Stanley, founder of Lovin’ Spoonfuls, created the organization to bridge the gap between abundance and need. In the short time Lovin’ Spoonfuls has been hard at work, they have rescued 2 million pounds of fresh, wholesome food that would have otherwise been thrown away. They are able to feed 10,000 people per week, and with one in five Bostonians food insecure, the work they are doing is crucial. I was excited to find out this year that the Ultimate Tailgate raised $135,000, which will allow Lovin’ Spoonfuls to rescue even more food in the coming year. While the work they do is difficult, the concept behind it seems so simple; there’s food out there and people who need it, so let’s match them up!
We attended our first Ultimate Tailgate in 2011 on a beautiful November evening, and this year was just the same. Sam’s at Louis was once again a beautiful location for the event, with the VIP hour inside the restaurant and the main event outside in a huge tent. Outside, the Boston Harbor and skyline sparkled, while Boston’s best chefs and an amazing organization shone inside.
This year, Boston favorites Joanne Chang and Christopher Myers were recipients of the first ever Thomas M. Menino Award for their support of Lovin’ Spoonfuls and the other charitable work they do throughout the city. There were definitely some tears in the room as we remembered our late mayor and reflected on the good works being honored.
The VIP hour offered quite the spread of food on its own, which included a huge charcuterie spread from New England Charcuterie and made-to-order cheese plates from Wasik’s Cheese Shop.
Once the VIP hour was over, everyone moved outside to the tent on the waterfront. One thing I love about this event is that, while there were 300 guests, it never felt crowded. The flow between inside Sam’s into the tent as well as some outdoor seating space makes it feel like there’s plenty of space, and since it’s a tasting event FULL of food, we appreciated having space to step aside and eat.
Once inside the tent, we did a quick lap for photos and then started eating, pretty much not stopping until we left.
Dishes like Beet Tartare from Fairsted Kitchen were laid out with beautiful presentation by proud chefs and culinary teams, all clearly really excited to be at this event.
Red Sox and Patriots DJ TJ Connelly kept us moving through the night and even had some people (ahem, maybe me) dancing a little bit with great tunes.
Tiffani Faison and her Sweet Cheeks team had a beautiful shrimp boil waiting for us on arrival at their table, along with big smiles. How cute are they? I think Boston has a collective crush on Chef Tiffani, for both her food and her magnetic presence.
Myers + Chang, one of the loves of my life and makers of the common cold curing Hot and Sour Soup, had a veggie dish, Roasted Squash and Curried Cauliflower with Cashews, a hearty but healthier bite in a sea of deliciously meaty cuisine.
And their friendly cat was there to welcome us; visitors to the table, as well as the people behind it, were all smiles.
Christine and Carla Pallotta, the sisters behind the deliciousness at Nebo had meal-size samples in these Italian Sausage, Broccoli Rabe Pine Nut Pesto, and Provolone Sandwiches, tailgate food brought up to the standard of their beautiful Boston waterfront restaurant. Swoon.
One of my favorite meat dishes of the night was from Commonwealth, Thai Pork Ribs with Cashew Butter, Lime, and Chili. The meat fell off the bone, and it was perfectly spiced with a nice, rich sauce.
Best presentation, and possibly my ultimate Ultimate Tailgate favorite was the Kung Pao Curry Frito Pie from Mei Mei. Crunchy, salty Fritos in the bag, topped with a chili-like topping and sour cream made for a major pop of flavor and texture, a comfort food I would love to curl up with after a bad day.
My husband’s favorite dish of the night was without a doubt the meatballs from Merrill & Co. They were some of the best meatballs we have ever had, and he definitely made more than one trip for this hearty bite. We’re obsessed with Merrill; if you are looking to go out with a group who will try everything, definitely add it to the top of your list.
In between every couple of tables, we ducked outside to eat and enjoy the scene. Sam’s has the best views, and we were seriously blessed with a warm fall evening. We have a lot of talk about moving to California, but then there are nights like these that make me love Boston so much I can’t imagine ever leaving. . .
Excellent food was accompanied by delicious drinks. MS Walker donated the liquor for the night, and we enjoyed Ward 8 cocktails and some really spectacular Cremant sparkling wine. The drinks were flowing, and the atmosphere was festive with many thanks to the generous donations of food and drinks for all.
An event honoring Joanne Chang just wouldn’t be complete without something from Flour Bakery, and these Apple Raisin Hand Pies were sweet, cozy bites to finish off the night. They reminded me SO much of my nana’s apple strudel that I got a little emotional. That connection with food and memory is one of the reasons I started this blog, and it’s always fun to revisit delicious memories.
In addition to eating, drinking, dancing (and tweeting), we also did some bidding on the silent auction that was open for most of the night. We ended up winning dinner for 10 at Pastoral, with wine provided by Hope Family Wines, which I love. The prize also comes with a magnum of wine. This package was made for us and our friends.
So many of the city’s great chefs were represented at the tailgate. Below I have included a lineup from the event website for your information. Definitely keep an eye out next November; hopefully the annual Ultimate Tailgate will continue, and we, as a food-loving city, can continue to get together for events that make a difference like this one does.
Food was from Lovin’ Spoonfuls culinary board members Jamie Bissonnette (Coppa and Toro), Joanne Chang (Myers + Chang and Flour Bakery), and newest culinary board member Michael Scelfo (Alden & Harlow), as well as Karen Akunowicz (Myers + Chang), Asia Mei (Sam’s at Louis Boston), Colin Lynch (Menton, No. 9 Park), Louis DiBiccari (Tavern Road), Matthew Gaudet (West Bridge), Will Gilson (Puritan & Co.), Tiffani Faison (Sweet Cheeks), Daniel Bojorquez (La Brasa), Jason Cheek (Merrill & Co.), Steve Postal (Commonwealth), Christine & Carla Pallotta (Nebo), Jason Albus (Fairsted Kitchen), the team from Mei Mei Street Kitchen, and Keith Pooler (Bergamot).