I’ve got to hand it to our downtown progressive dinner group. Give us a theme and we’ll jump on it. Give us a goal and we’ll accomplish it.
Case in point. Last month, we had a downtown progressive dinner scheduled and we were tossing around ideas for a theme. We usually center our meals around a holiday or a season or even a downtown activity. Once we said the food at each stop had to feature items purchased at the Market Square Farmers’ Market.
But one of our members, Bruce Anderson, threw us for a loop with his suggestion: presidents. Since Presidents’ Day was in February, the theme at each stop had to be connected to some U.S. president. We scratched our heads for a few minutes, but then readily agreed.
And the goal: Recruit this great new-to-town couple, Cliff and Jacque Hawks, to downtown living. We invited them and they said yes. But by the time the progressive dinner rolled around, they already had put a down payment on a condo at The Elliott, which is still under construction at the corner of Church Avenue and State Street. I told you we were good! Ha.
The Hawks, of course, were easy targets. They already had decided to live downtown. Moving here from Nashville, Cliff has taken the position of president and CEO of the University of Tennessee’s Cherokee Farm Development Corporation. For the past 11 years, he has been the vice president and general manager of the Nashville Superspeedway. (Click here for some background on the innovative Cherokee Farm project.) Jacque, a gourmet cook and former sous chef, still is running back and forth between Knoxville and Nashville trying to get the couple’s affairs wrapped up there.
The first stop, for appetizers, was our condo at Cherokee Lofts at the corner of Church Avenue and Market Street. During my research, I learned that President Thomas Jefferson loved sweet potato biscuits, of all things! And, it just so happens, so do I. So I learned to make them and was really pleased with the result.
My other appetizer was a no-brainer. I’m from Georgia, so I selected Rosalynn Carter’s famous cheese ring. Only one problem: I didn’t have a 3-cup ring mold. And neither did the two friends I called, Gay Lyons and Monique Anderson. And neither did Kroger. So I made a cheese loaf!
Several years ago, the annual Moxley Carmichael client party fell on George Washington’s birthday. We hired WBIR‘s Bill Landry of “The Heartland Series,” to dress up as George Washington. And we had this little stand-up George greeting guests at the name tag table. We hauled him out for our presidential progressive dinner.
At about this point, we finally figured out why Bruce had suggested the presidential theme. He was involved years ago in that effort to bring a presidential museum to Knoxville! He clearly had accumulated some pretty cool presidential items.
Tim and Gay worked out a great arrangement. Since she likes to cook so much and we weren’t going to her condo this time, she cooked at Tim’s place. He usually hires a caterer when he hosts, so this little deal worked out great for all concerned. Especially the guests. Gay selected a dish called “Country Captain,” a Georgia dish that President Franklin Delano Roosevelt came to love when he spent so much time in Warm Springs, Georgia.
Tim’s condo is over-the-top great. Nevertheless, he continues to make improvements.
Thanks to Cliff and Jacque for making sure our mission was accomplished! And thanks to everybody else for another successful downtown progressive dinner. When is the next one?