Behind the Scenes with Forage

Posted on September 30, 2013 by

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Justin Stone and Megan Kiernan of forage

The pie is cooling in the window sill on Pine Street… or rather, Blenheim Road. The Cleaver’s are preparing for their upcoming bash! June’s prepared a delicious menu, and Ward’s ready to man the grill. The classic 1950’s American picnic is ready for the guests!

On a late summer eve, the team of forage, Justin Stone and Megan Kiernan, prepped for their 6th dinner series, The Cleaver’s Cookout. From folding napkins to making Wild Blueberry Cassis Sorbet, the duo laughed their way through an evening of dinner series prep.

With a year and a half of successful dinner series under their belt, Justin and Megan are moving towards a sustainable production effort in the preparation for the 4 week series. With full time jobs and a passionate desire to see longevity in forage, the mass production of particular food items and decor items allows for a manageable reconstruction of the dinner each week.

“We figure out what we can chip away at early on,” added Justin about the preparation effort for a forage dinner series. “Megan has an amazing sense of time.”

Justin and Megan are generally 1 to 2 series ahead, and can start planning in advance, little by little, every day. Thrifting for decor items and crafting for the theme of an upcoming dinner is always underway. It is a lifestyle for this team, regularly visiting Sprouse’s on 29 South or local fields for wild berries.

Decor items range from a life-size paper doll prop of the 1950s “cookie cutter couple” to a

For Justin and Megan, the trick is to utilize resources when they are available. For the many “flowers in the window sill” a part of the outdoor decor, seeds were planted in July. For the wild blueberries and berries for the pies, For the fabric curtains and banners sewn by Megan, yards of fabric from Second Yard were used weeks in advance. For the life-size 1950s couple, Justin enlisted the assistance of his artist uncle while vacationing with family in July. For the wild berries in the mini pies, Megan picked some in July off of Monticello Trail, and Justin picked others in Pennsylvania in July.

“We figure out a little more every time,” added Megan.

Figuring it out entails lists – lots and lots of lists. Justin and Megan each keep notebooks filled with not only preparation lists for upcoming dinners, but also ideas jotted down for future themes, cocktails, decor, and more.

Forage dinners max at 20-22 guests, and there is always something magical and effortless about the dinners, from the setting and ambiance, to the food and chemistry among the diners, some friends and some new acquaintances.

“Each dinner’s chemistry is so different,” added Justin. “The community fostered around the table has always just happened.”

Even the cocktail hour before the seated dinner falls perfectly into the created spaces for mingling. “We tried it and it just worked,” explained Justin. It also cleverly allows time for Megan to finish preparing the many courses of the meal ahead.

“I like that anyone can decide to come,” commented Megan about the fee for attending a forage dinner – only $40.

“We don’t want it to ever be price restrictive,” added Justin. “We feel that way, instead of increasing the price, we can broaden the scope of what we do.”

Through collaboration and working to umbrella out the concept of forage into mini-series, pop-ups, and 1-off dinners between their regular dinner series, Justin and Megan hope to not only fill the time between the series, but also continue to expand their passion to new territory, and new palettes.

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Get the recipe for forage’s Old Fashioned Float Cocktail and Wild Blueberry Cassis Sorbet!

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cheers

Get the recipe for this delicious Wild Blueberry Cassis Sorbet Float!

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Justin shared his notebook filled with grocery lists and to-do lists, a map to the dinner’s success.

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Ribbon from Sprouse’s on 29 South.

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Megan shows us the mid-century Army wives cookbook that inspired much of the menu, from Baked Alaska to Rumaki, blending 1950s foods and interpretations of classics for a modern menu.

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Sign up for their email list to get the scoop on their next bash.

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Words by Linnea White

Photography by Katerina Diplas

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Posted in: cheers, community, food