I live in Crosstown, a historic Midtown Memphis neighborhood with a load of blight and a lot of charm. My neighborhood surrounds the 1.4 million-square-foot vacant Sears Crosstown building, the old headquarters for Sears until the late 1990s:
For the past couple of years, Crosstown Arts — a nonprofit with big dreams of redeveloping this monstrous space into some mixture of arts, retail, and housing — has hosted MemFEAST. Participants pay $25 per ticket for a delicious vegan-friendly meal and all-you-can-drink wine or beer, and artists present ideas for potential projects. The diners vote on their fave proposal, and the winner receives $5,000 to bring their art project to life. Pretty cool, huh? Oh, and this year, the whole thing went down in the basement of the eerie, abandoned Crosstown building.
I've been to every MemFEAST since the event began. You can read about past events here and here. In the past, the art project proposals have all centered around public art projects, but tonight, artists proposed film projects centered around Memphis neighborhoods.
Every year's menu is vegan-friendly, but this year's MemFEAST was over the top. The dinner was buffet-style, and I might have gone a little overboard! Check out my (over)loaded plate:
On this plate: Edamame, Sweet Corn, and Farro Risotto, Asado Garlic Thyme Crusted Tempeh, Drunken Portabella, Seitan Satay, Chimi Churri, Cilantro Mint Chutney, Warm Spring Vegetable Salad, Vegan Antipasto with heirloom bean hummus, spring pea butter, olive tapenade, pecan "ricotta," raw and grilled vegetables, croutes and pita, and an assortment of quinoas and lentil "caviar." And the very best part? Butternut Squash and Pumpkin Seed Picadillo Tamale with Carrot-Habanero Puree, Spring Greens, Satsuma and Carrot Salsa, Butter Bean Guacamole, and a Chocolate-Chili Emulsion.
Can you imagine being at a buffet catering to mostly non-vegans with a menu of mostly all vegan food?! Crazy!! I'm pretty sure there was no meat. There were a few vegetarian dishes with cheese though. But no meat!
Oh, and let's not forget dessert! Check out this vegan Raw Strawberry Cobbler with Coconut Crumble and Candied Citrus:
As you can imagine, I'm stuffed. It's hours later, and I'm still miserably full. Crosstown Arts and their chef Miles McMath outdid themselves this year.
And in case you were wondering, the winner of the film proposals was Nicki Newburger, Mark Adams, Alan Spearman, Morgan Jon Fox, and Sean Faust. They proposed a film called April, about a little girl and her favorite neighborhood tree in Soulsville. The tree is named April, and all the kids in the neighborhood meet up there. It's a magic tree. They had my vote! Now, they'll get $5,000 to make their film!