by Shelley Sharp and Ryan Lockhart, Photos by Lindsey Smith
Photo Gallery from this Year's Event
Coho Catering Creates a 20s Roar
Coho Restaurant is the official caterer of the annual event and spends an entire week preparing for the festivities. Beginning the day after Thanksgiving, the kitchen counters of The San Juan Island Inn Collection’s Tucker House Inn and Harrison House Suites are littered with mixing bowls, baking sheets, and all the ingredients that Chef Jessica combines to create delectable dessert bites. At Coho Restaurant, Chef Ryan uses his week to roast, whisk, chiffonade, baste and braise the components that will become your dinner. We asked him, where exactly do you find inspiration for a Roaring 20s menu?
"While imagining a buffet one might see at one of Gatsby’s grand soirées I found myself turning to classic hotels of the era for ideas. As it turns out many of the iconic dishes from the time were named after the hotel restaurants they were created in. The Hot Brown for example, is an open faced sandwich with turkey and bacon covered in a Mornay sauce, created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky in 1926 as a large-night alternative to ham and eggs. Another great example is the classic Waldorf salad created by the maître d'hôtel of the Waldorf-Astoria in the 1890s." - Chef Ryan
Chef explains that the 1920s saw the food industry also making strides in the way food was being processed and how farms were producing and harvesting crops. Canned foods were becoming more popular and their impact was showing itself in recipes and magazines across the country. Chicken Ala King is another classic dish that, while not invented during the 20s, saw its evolution during this expansion of American culinary ideas. Originally created by a chef of the Delmonico restaurant for a patron named Foxhall Keene, the dish was originally Chicken Ala Keene, that was dreaming of a pimento-studded cream sauce. However, it was the invention of canned peas during World War One that added that even more iconic element to the ingredient list.
I am sure many chef’s have asked “how can you improve the sandwich?” While that might have been their exact words there is evidence that the ideas existed just by the shear number of variations that exist for this iconic item. There isn’t a lot of evidence to explain, however, to explain the inspiration behind the “Pinwheel” sandwich. It first appeared in a cookbook int he late 1920s called Seven Hundred Sandwiches by Florence A. Cowles. There are references to “rolled” sandwiches coming out of the late 1800s but never using the name “Pinwheel.” Another example of a food taking a leap with the help of the advancements happening in food industry as the invention of mass-produced, and softer, breads made the “rolling” of the sandwich more plausible.
Mix & Mingle
You will start your swanky evening in the theatre's lobby where you can nibble on olives, nuts and other snacks -- or, perhaps, grab a shrimp cocktail that will be passed by elegantly-dressed waitstaff. Between bites, sip one of two historic cocktails (or opt for vino or bubbly) as you wander into the black-box Gubelman Theatre to place your bid on superlative silent auction items.
The Main Event
Around 6:30pm, volunteers will usher you into the larger auditorium where you will be seated for an hour of musical entertainment and the main event -- the live benefit auction. Some of the amazing packages you can bid on are: a seven-night luxury Mexico vacation, an Oregon-coast beach retreat get-away, a Christmas tree decorated with over 90 bottles of wine, an adult dress up party in the theatre’s costume shop, tickets to the acclaimed musical Hamilton in Seattle, and, (for one lucky bidder), a private chef’s dinner for eight, donated by Coho Restaurant Owners Anna Maria de Freitas and David Pass, along with many more.
Belly Up to the Buffet
Directly following, you will be treated to an amazing 20s-inspired supper created by Coho Restaurant’s Chef Ryan. The buffet will feature a prime rib roast carving station, potatoes gratin, root vegetables with pesto, salad of fresh greens with roquefort dressing (or optional vinaigrette), homemade breads and rolls, and a vegan/vegetarian option. Yummy sweet treats include French macaroons, cream puffs, peppermint bark, Turkish delight, and red velvet cupcakes.
So if you like to play dress up and enjoy a rollicking night on the town (or village), come raise an auction paddle and a toast to Coho Restaurant and the San Juan Community Theatre for, what we hope will be, their most successful fundraising effort yet!
Tickets: $100 ea. (all to benefit a great cause!)
Box Office: 100 2nd Street North, Friday Harbor
Phone: (360) 378-3210
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