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“Feastly Brings Community Back To the Table” The Pink Line Project

Feastly gets some love from Rachel Gorman and the Pink Line Project! Read here article below.

“Walking to Feastly’s BYOB Southern Comfort Brunch on a Sunday afternoon, prosecco in one hand and directions in the other, I was overwhelmed by a flash of anxiety. What exactly was I about to do? Up until that moment, I had whole-heartedly embraced the concept of Feastly: an online marketplace that connects those who like to cook with those who like to eat for one meal-only engagements hosted in local homes across the city. A habitual glutton who has long harbored delusions of being someday called a gourmet, I seized upon the idea of taking advantage of D.C. locals’ culinary expertise as a unique way of expanding my palate without breaking the bank. I signed up for Feastly’s mailing list without hesitation and jumped at the opportunity, only a few days later, to join Jessica O’ Neal’s Southern Brunch feast featuring Pork Sliders on Butternut Squash Biscuits with Creamy Fig Mustard, Charleston Style Shrimp and Grits, Deviled Eggs with Homemade Zucchini Chow Chow, and Cornbread Pudding. There was no doubt in my mind that I had made the right decision.

“But now here I was, just moments from taking my seat at the feast, and grappling with misgivings. I had considered that by inviting me in, my hosts were trusting that I was not someone to be afraid of. But could I trust these unfamiliar people in return? A thousand government-sponsored lessons on the danger of strangers (and, to be more specific, any edibles that they willfully distribute) started bouncing around my head. I realized, with some discomfort, that in an era so often defined in terms of increasing individualism, isolation and cynicism, I was about to do the unthinkable: walk into a strange home, with a strange host and strange guests, and accept a strange meal to eat, no questions asked.

“On the other hand, I was hungry. And there certainly weren’t any pork sliders waiting for me at home. There was no turning back now.

“I felt my uncertainties melt away the moment I was hit by a warm smell of a home cooked brunch wafting out of the sunny apartment of Feastly co-founder, Danny Harris. Our volunteer chef, Jessica, had taken full advantage of Danny’s space, and had already set out deviled eggs, creamy pimento cheese spread, and homemade crackers to welcome us, along with fresh squeezed sweet and savory juice and herbs bar with cantaloupe, kiwi and strawberry purees that we could use to make drinks at our leisure. After an initial meet and greet, Jessica convened our group of about 15 at an ingredient-laden dining room table and led a demonstration on how to best make homemade, DC-shaped buttermilk biscuits (a revelation for this Pillsbury-raised author). Our meal had officially begun.

“According to Feastly co-founder Noah Karesh, volunteer chefs for Feastly don’t always have professional experience, but all go through a thorough vetting procedure before being invited to serve a meal to feasters. Jessica had indeed had years of working in the culinary arts in Charleston, South Carolina before moving to Washington, DC, and when brunch was served, her expertise in southern cooking shone. Our main course of sautéed shrimp, okra and tomato gravy was tart, savory, and deliciously complex, and only propped up further by being served over the creamiest bed of warm cheddar herb stone ground grits I’ve ever eaten. The biscuits we made came right out of the oven and on to the table with homemade jam, and our cornbread pudding dessert arrived with peach coulis and a thick bourbon whipped cream that packed a punch and left you wanting more.

“The real surprise for me during the course of the meal though, was not how delicious the food itself was, even when it defied my admittedly inflated expectations, but in the joyful, easy conversation that seemed to bubble up effortlessly among all of us around the table. Strangers in a city marked by acrimony, overzealous security and hyper-partisanship, we still found a way to share ideas, find commonalities, and go from handshakes to toasting one another in less time than it takes for a biscuit to cool. The longer we talked, the clearer it became that the very characteristics of the Feastly meal that had given me my initial stranger-related nervousness were in fact, some of the most compelling reasons to attend. For those of us who for whatever reason, don’t often stray from our tried-and-true networks of family, friends and colleagues, the risk involved in meeting, greeting, and celebrating food with a brand new batch of bon vivants makes it all the more exciting of an opportunity. Sitting down to a Feastly meal is not just about embracing the potential for great food, but also new relationships, experiences, and adventures – an incentive that Danny hopes to magnify by making Feastly as inclusive as possible and planning future meals around activities like TED talks, and yogi-led lessons in mindful eating.

“In an anxious age, opening up a home to someone new, giving that person the gift of a well-prepared meal, or conversely, accepting that meal without reservation, feels like an almost radically optimistic act. By providing a platform on which we gratify our basic desires to cook and eat well, Feastly implicitly encourages an even more fundamental human impulse: to trust one another enough to create community bonds by gathering together and sharing joyfully. Before I left that afternoon, there was a flurry of email exchanges, business card trades, and handshakes that turned quickly into laughing hugs. The trust I had shown by attending had come back to me ten-fold and a room of once-strangers was now full of friends.”

See the full article here.

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