Posted: June 26, 2014
When Katie and Denny Culbert dreamed up Runaway Dish, they wanted to do more than throw a quarterly dinner party. They wanted their guests to know where their food was coming from. For them to know the chefs preparing it. And for the chefs preparing it to know each other. Runaway Dish is more than an underground supper clubits uprooting an entire culinary community. After attending a Blind Pig charity dinner in Asheville, North Carolina, the Culberts realized that in a sea of extraordinarily talented chefs, there was a lack of collaboration between restaurants in Lafayette. The chefs featured at Blind Pig werent coworkers, but co-creators, joining forces to create an experience that benefits their local and culinary communities through gastronomical artistic innovation. The inspiration was infectious, and Runaway Dish was formed. Every three months, two chefs from different restaurants are given free rein to cook up a menu revolving around a central theme. With no restrictions on ingredients or equipment, Runaway Dish provides an experimental playground for its chefs. We let them do their thing, and our goal is to promote them and provide the venue for them to really show off, says Denny. Although only two are featured, local chefs are eager to lend a helping hand and socialize with their peers. There were 35 chefs in the kitchen at our last dinner. Everyone leaves their egos behind and are just there to play. [Best_Wordpress_Gallery gallery_type="image_browser" theme_id="1" gallery_id="1" sort_by="order" order_by="asc" show_search_box="0" search_box_width="180" image_browser_width="700" image_browser_title_enable="0" image_browser_description_enable="0" thumb_click_action="undefined" thumb_link_target="undefined" popup_fullscreen="0" popup_autoplay="1" popup_width="800" popup_height="500" popup_effect="fade" popup_interval="3" popup_enable_filmstrip="1" popup_filmstrip_height="50" popup_enable_ctrl_btn="1" popup_enable_fullscreen="0" popup_enable_info="1" popup_info_always_show="0" popup_enable_rate="0" popup_enable_comment="1" popup_hit_counter="0" popup_enable_facebook="1" popup_enable_twitter="1" popup_enable_google="1" popup_enable_pinterest="0" popup_enable_tumblr="0" watermark_type="none" watermark_link=" "] Beyond the food, the dinners help Lafayette locals see various locations in a new light. Past events had guests enjoying deconstructed grilled cheese at a 60-seat table running through the Childrens Museum of Acadiana and watching short films outdoors before indulging in a smoked meat symphony at Johnsons Boucaniere. Runaway Dish is a once-in-a-lifetime dinner every time, says Denny. That group of chefs is never going to come together to create that menu ever again. Especially not in that venue. Each feast not only provides a much-needed creative outlet for chefs and diners alike, but helps support small, often overlooked nonprofits at the same time. After covering the costs for food, equipment rentals and flatware, proceeds are donated to a local charity where a little bit can go a long way. In the tradition of building something special from scratch, along with each meal comes an original publication populated by photos, recipes, illustrations, articles and poems. The content created itself when Denny, a food photographer, needed an outlet for his photos taken at the dinners. As manager of jewelry and clothing boutique, kiki, Katie has a natural eye for aesthetics and together they created the visually stunning Runaway Dish culinary journal. The magazine made its surprise debut to the delight of guests at the end of the second dinner. I feel like that made everyone feel like they were a part of something and a part of the community as well, says Katie. June 5th marks the one-year anniversary of the Culberts vision and the fifth installment of Runaway Dish, Haut Terroir. In concordance with the upcoming Day of the Acadians, the dinner concept will center on foraging and feature dishes created from plants and animals indigenous to Louisiana. Featured chefs Jeremy Connor of Village Caf and Ashley Roussel of Social Southern Table & Bar will give guests a taste of what life was like for the first Louisiana settlers. Benefits will proceed the Center for Louisiana Studieswho are currently raising funds to restore theRoy House, one of the oldest historic buildings on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's campus,for thier new office building. You can get more info on Runaway Dish and find out about upcoming dinners by clicking here.