The Daily Memphian Posted “Caritas monthly dinner features some of Memphis’ top chefs — and it makes a difference” which features Caritas Village.
In the heart of Binghampton, some of the best pop-up dinners in town are occurring.
Caritas Community Center & Café hosts a monthly Chef’s Partnership Dinner featuring the top chefs in Memphis. With only 60 guests, it’s an intimate dining experience that is not only delicious, but also makes a difference.
“We started these dinners in February to sustain our ‘pay it forward’ program at the café,” said executive chef Spencer McMillin.
Caritas is Latin for “love for all people.” It is the perfect name for the loving neighborhood community that Onie Johns created back in 2006. Caritas Village was built to be a safe place for people to eat, meet, serve in the community and share life.
As part of the “pay it forward” program, the café provides free meals using farm-fresh ingredients for the homeless and under-privileged.
Local farms and food vendors like Marmilu Farms, New South Produce Cooperative, Old World Farms and Tamboli’s Pasta & Pizza regularly donate ingredients. The chef’s dinners bridge the gap between what is donated and what is purchased.
“We always try to give back to the community when we can,” said chef Jimmy Gentry of P.O. Press and Paradox Catering.
When P.O. Press closed unexpectedly this summer, Gentry donated all the food in his kitchen to Caritas.
On Oct. 24, Gentry once again generously gave to Caritas and prepared dinner for a sold-out crowd.
“His dinner sold out in two hours,” McMillin said. It’s an occurrence that is starting to happen for most of these dinners now that word has spread.
The dinners are not an ordinary wine-tasting fare. Each chef offers unique dishes to delight and impress.
Gentry and his partner at P.O. Press, Chris Thorn, transformed the community center into a fine dining restaurant for the evening.
Mitchell Marable, P.O. Press bartender, served a Tequila Bees Knees Cocktail.
“It’s tequila with a black pepper honey syrup, sage, lime and cava,” he said of the sweet and refreshing libation.
The first course was a salad that featured Chinese broccoli. More leafy than American broccoli, the stalks were cooked until tender, and the salad was garnished with paper-thin slices of Asian pear, pecorino cheese and crushed almonds.
Fans of P.O. Press were delighted to see Gentry’s beloved Corn Mash dish on the menu.
A wizard with vegetables, Gentry also served kimchi-spiced carrots garnished with “bird seed” and his play on a Thai chili sauce.
“The sauce is made from honey, preserved lime, fish sauce, garlic, Calabrian chilies and Indian chilies,” said Tyler Jividen, a cook from P.O. Press. “It has a kick on the back end from the Indian chilies.”
Spaghetti squash served with a house-made harissa sauce and dried apricots was also part of what Gentry called his “produce” offerings.
For the entrée, Gentry used Claybrook Farms beef brisket to make a lovely dish served with a farro risotto. The brisket was cooked sous-vide until tender and then finished on the grill before serving.
Thorn, a trained sommelier, paired wines with each course.
The finale was a dessert that featured dulce mousse. The mousse was served with bomboloni, bite-size Italian doughnuts, filled with homemade dulce apple filling.
Each chef’s dinner is designed to impress, yet be approachable. The price for three courses plus wines is $54.
The next dinner will be Nov. 13 featuring Chef Kelly English of Restaurant Iris. Tickets go on sale at 6 a.m. Nov. 1.
“You may want to set our alarm for this one,” McMillin joked. He expects it to sell out in hours just like the P.O. Press dinner did.