This is a guest blog post from chef Sam Monsour of jm Curley in Boston, MA.
It’s a Monday night in the middle of December at jm Curley. The staff is hung-over. Bad. We’re hurting. Hair of the dog is the only light at the end of our tunnel, so once dinner service concludes, we flock to the draft beer faucets like the salmon of Bristol Bay. The ice-cold merriment provides us with some much needed holiday cheer. Gulp gulp gulp, ahhh. Now to reminisce of the rager we threw the night before—a righteous pig pickin’ with all the fixin’s—in celebration of our first year in business, and of course, the loyal patrons who made it all possible. After several laughs, and a unanimous craving for shoo fly pie, my iPhone does what it normally does and pulls my attention elsewhere. A text from our fearless leader Andy Cartin reads, “working on guest chefs once a month for next year. one national/ one local. kick ass dinner on sunday”. I instantly respond, “Sounds f—- awesome!!!”
Enter, Revelry for Charity. A kickass dinner series held one Sunday a month at jm Curley featuring one local and one national chef. Number of courses hover around 8. Proceeds to go to charity (charities are chosen each month by featured chefs). Oh yeah, there’s a cocktail hour, lots of fernet, beverage pairings for each dish, and of course, a communal night cap while awaiting uber.
Back to the genesis: Before we knew it, the warm and fuzzy holiday season had come and gone. January’s dinner was up for grabs, and flying by the seat of our pants, we somehow managed to get it done. (Just like Mayor Curley). Our first dinner paired Kentucky chef Edward Lee of 610 Magnolia with Boston’s own Jamie Bissonnette. We weren’t sure what to expect, and quite frankly, we weren’t too worried about it. Our holy credo “It’s food and drink, not life and death” helped us keep our cool. So did the three cases of beer on ice.
Ed and Jamie’s food, passion and camaraderie gave Revelry for Charity a pulse; their larger than life personalities set the precedent. Since then, “Biss” has been a huge aid for the series, and we’ve hosted an all star line up of chefs including Tim Maslow (Strip T’s, Watertown MA), Dominique Crenn (Atelier Crenn, San Francisco), Ken Oringer (the king of Boston), Alex Stupak (Empellon, NYC), Chris Pandel (The Bristol, Chicago IL), Will Gilson (Puritan & Co.) and Jason Stratton (Spinasse, Seattle WA).
What started out as a “dude we should totally do this” way to raise funds for charity has become a breathtaking experience. We’re finding out that the same close-knit, hometown feel that exists within the Boston restaurant community also exists throughout the country. Chefs, owners, operators, general managers, beverage directors, servers, line cooks, you name it, are all willing to devote time from their already jam-packed schedules to lend a helpful and loving hand.
The support from our industry brethren has been remarkable and humbling. Everyone is getting an opportunity to learn and share, and because of that, everyone is connecting on level much higher than we ever could have anticipated.
I guess that’s the flip side of the coin. We’re not just collecting change for charity. There’s a whole lot of revelry taking place. The booze helps distract those pesky inhibitions, and the primal act of dining in such close quarters brings everyone together. People are getting to know one another. People are sharing their views and philosophies on food, beverage and culture.
The energy is electric. Unlike anything I’ve ever been witness to. By the end of the night, indestructible bonds have been forged. None of it would be possible if it weren’t for the care and enthusiasm of those whom attend, both staff and diners, whether they’re a law school student, or one of Boston’s most decorated chefs.
We are very grateful for what this series has become, and look forward to our next episode on June 30 featuring Matt Jennings (Farmstead, Providence RI) and Jeremy Fox (Rustic Canyon, Santa Monica CA). You can stay tuned by following us on Twitter and Facebook.
All photos: Tara Morris