For the last four years, my neighborhood arts organization, Crosstown Arts, has been holding annual MemFEAST dinners. What's MemFEAST? Well, the "Mem" stands for "Memphis," and FEAST is an acronym for "Funding Emerging Artists with Sustainable Tactics." Still not clear? Let me explain.
Community members and arts supporters from all over the city pay $35 for a ticket to MemFEAST. Money from all the ticket sales — plus some generous donor contributions — totals at $5,000. In return for their $35 ticket, patrons get a massive and awesome vegan dinner. And while they're eating dinner, artists make presentations for art projects that they could create with that $5,000. After the presentations are through, the patrons vote for their favorite art project. The winner gets the $5,000 to make their art project a reality.
I love the MemFEAST concept, and I've attended the event every year. The meal hasn't always been all vegan (the first two years featured a mostly vegan menu with one or two meat dishes for the omnis). But for the past two years, Chef/farmer Miles McMath has been preparing the food. And he makes everything vegan! Crosstown Arts, the arts organization that represents my neighborhood in Memphis, is probably the most vegan-friendly arts organization in town. They always have vegan options at their events, and many times, all of the food is vegan. Lucky me!
This year's MemFEAST event happened on Saturday night. Each year, the location has changed, but this year may have been my very fave. The party was held outdoors on the V&E Greenline, a 1.8-mile bike and pedestrian path on an old rail track. It was like a lovely garden party!
Here I am (with new hair!)
And here are my friends Cassi and Greg, who are both vegan as well, checking out the menu before dinner.
Each table had multiple bottles of Ginger-Basil Aqua Fresca.
And look at these adorable decorations! Old airplane-sized liquor bottles with flowers!
The buffet was AMAZING!!! It started with antipasto — Heirloom Bean Hummus, Olive Tapenade, Raw Veggies, Portobello Mousse, and Burnt Naan (The naan had a light grilled flavor and was among my favorite things).
And there was French Lentil Caviar, Beet Tartare, Pickled Spring Vegetables, and Rustic Bread.
But the real icing on the cake was the vegan slider bar! I had one of each! There were Edamame & White Bean Burgers with Field Lettuce, Spring Onion, and Chow Chow, Redneck Reubens made from Vegan Andouille, Kimchee, and Creole Remoulade, Green Lentil & Quinoa Burgers with Vindaloo Vegetables, and Tamarind Chutney, Hominy-Green Chili Burgers with Avocado, Salsa Roja, and Lime Crema, and Sweet Tater Logs with Chipotle Ketchup.
And at the end of the buffet (and I failed to take a picture) were Curry Spiced Tofu with Broccoli Rabe and Basil-Mint Pesto, Sweet Corn & Farro Risotto with Green Butterbeans and Arkansas "Feta" (my fave!), and Springtime Soba Noodles with Ginger Miso Broth, Pok Choi, Daikon, and Shoots.
And let's not forget dessert! Brownies and Raw Peach Cobbler with Green Wheat Freekah Crust.
I tried everything on the menu. So needless to say, my plate was a little overstuffed. I took a picture of Greg's much tidier, less gluttonous plate.
After dinner, we were so full! But the artists' presentations helped get our minds off our very full bellies. Five artists gave presentations, and the winner was Jeannie Tomlinson Saltmarsh, who proposed the installation on the greenline of metal fish sculptures that move with the wind.
We stayed for awhile after dinner and drank more wine. Look how lovely this little garden party was after dark!
Another successful MemFEAST has come and gone, and this one was definitely the best so far.