If you’ve been following along for a while, you know the Next Plate Series with Camp North End is one of my favorite event series to work on. Next Plate is a series of dinners where we have local Charlotte chefs pair up with a local artist to create an unforgettable dining experience.
We tried this out for the first time this past spring. Over 4 weeks we created 4 unique dinners that sold out very quickly. We had such a fun time with these events, we knew we were going to do it again.
This time, rather than do 4 dinners in 4 weeks straight, we decided to break it up a bit. In September we had our first two dinners on Sept. 18 and 25, and we just had our Oct. 9 dinner and are getting ready for the next one on Oct. 16. The October dates are already sold out.
To kick things off on September 18, we paired Chef Whitney Thomas, the executive chef at 5Church, and Chef McKinzie Spence, the pastry chef at La Belle Helene, with Discovery Place, a local group of museums focusing on science and art.
This was one of the most interesting dinners yet. The theme was the four elements, so the representatives from Discovery Place gave scientific demonstrations while Chefs Whitney and McKinzie created food that was their own take on the four elements. Andre Lomeli created cocktail pairings for each course as well.
What resulted was a wondrous, almost magical evening as Discovery Place demonstrated insanely cool experiments in front of guests focusing on land, wind, water and fire.
“Exploration is everywhere, and you can learn in a really fun environment,” Riana Clark with Discovery Place said. “I would hope to inspire people to be curious and engage with the natural world around them.”
The result was an insanely cool menu to go along with the breathtaking demonstrations:
Earth - Beet & plum salad with smoked mushroom bacon, dashi vinaigrette, greens, popped sorghum paired with a white tea & dried hibiscus
Water - Grouper crudo, seaweed, lotus root, pea broth; sweet “caviar” with vanilla bean panna cotta, blackberry roe, shallot, blini. All of this was paired with a drink called Setting the Table: Tito’s Vodka, Aperol, salted O’Henry peach shrub, lemon
Fire - Smoking scallop with poblano chutney, citrus graham cracker, thyme marshmallo paired with a Green Machine cocktail: Mezcal Illegal Joven, green chartreuse, yerba mate, kiwi agua, rich simply, mint, lime
Wind - Braised pork belly with maple chili cotton candy paired with the Machete cocktail: Plantation Stiggin’s Fancy Pineapple, Tepache, cider, piloncillo, lemon
The inside of Camp North End’s event space became magical for the evening.
“It’s a feel good place,” said Whitney Thomas. “I feel good being here, and I feel good doing that event in that space just because anything can happen here.”
With a week like that kicking off the series, we were worried others following wouldn’t be able to top it. The first group really brought their A-game, but trust us when we say the group that took over Camp North End on September 25 did not disappoint.
To watch the 1-minute video recap created by The Littlefield Co. for this event, click here.
For the second Next Plate dinner this fall, we partnered up with Chef Ryan Allen, the executive chef at Reid's Fine Foods, Chef Quietina Stewart from Johnson & Wales University and The Mint Museum - specifically, artist Crista Cammaroto. The overarching theme was regional flavors, and wow were they some good regional flavors.
Chefs Quietina and Ryan worked with Crista to arrange their plates with a fine art feel; in fact, a lot of Crista’s art was recreated on plates for people that night.
“It was a very fun time in my life as a chef because I see what we do as art, so it was cool to talk to someone who does it in a different medium,” Ryan said.
The result was a series of dishes that tied perfectly together, but represented different regions around the world and locally, all with fresh, local ingredients:
First course: Thai butternut squash soup with pickled radish
Second course: Cornbread panzanella with pickled tomatoes, kale, and a lusty monk vinaigrette
Third course: Braised collars with fried mushrooms
Fourth course: Roasted cauliflower with a miso glaze and a curry yogurt
Fifth course: Local veg ragu and beef gnocchi with duck confit
Sixth course: Oat caramel spice bar for dessert
“I think this area is something special, and it’s going to draw more people and connections in the city for sure,” said Quietina.
To watch the incredible video recap for this evening, click here.
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