The Table Makes Us Human May 24, 2022

Hi, I’m Melanee! I consider myself a hyper-creative multi-passionate, which means I love doing a ton of different things. One of the favorite titles I'm currently loving is Chief Creative Enthusiast of a business called Closet Creatives Experience. It is serving in this role that I have the extreme pleasure of designing unique gatherings to ignite and liberate your creativity. CCE is a monthly dinner/creative party where we eat together, play together then create together. But here’s the catch, you have no idea what creative journey you will be embarking upon until you get there. And YES, I do that on purpose! I never want to give you the chance to think of all the reasons why you can’t or don’t want to try something new. My mission is to place you in an atmosphere where you can’t help but want to try! And my goal is you leaving having discovered something different to do and new about YOU! I try to never repeat a creative activity, so every month you come, we will be exploring something we have never done before! If what I am saying has piqued your interest, the next experience is this Saturday, May 28th (it’s actually a fundraiser for the Jumping Dreams Double Dutch Team) and tickets are still available. I will share the ticket link. So if you will be in town, you absolutely must come so you can experience what creative liberation looks and feels like!

But now about why I am here… Have you ever stopped to think that food is the language that everyone speaks? Dining together transcends race, religion and political affiliation because everybody, even the people we dislike the most, has got to eat. History shows us over and over that humans have always known and recognized this. So much so that since 2016, by harnessing the universal power of food, governments around the world have been turning dinner tables into diplomatic missions to spread cultural awareness through what is now termed “gastrodiplomacy.”

Communal dining is the quintessential human experience because those who eat as we do have a connection with us: they are, as we are… and to me there is no better way to experience the humanity of another than to sit down with them to eat. The table makes us human! It centers our humanity.

I have been in love with cultures from all around the world since I was a teenager, when I had the opportunity to spend a summer in Japan and Korea. I came back in love with Asian culture and spent a lot of my young adult years immersed in the absorbing of so many other cultures from around the world. I have also been in love with cooking since I was a little girl. I got my early experiences like many others, standing at my grandmother’s side in the kitchen. But I jokingly, and not so jokingly, proudly exclaim that I graduated from Food Network University. It was by watching every single chef and show on the network (sending a special shout out “BAM’ to Emeril Lagasse - those who know, you know) from the time it launched until it changed it’s format to the dumb challenge shows, that I mastered my skills. Even today, on those rare occasions when I get to hold the remote control in my house you will find me either watching something about a culture or someone cooking. So you can then probably surmise that when I was approached by Helms with the task of coming up with a meal that smelled and tasted like peace I got pretty stoked! Absolutely loving flavor explosions, the fusion of cuisines from all over the world has been something I have been playing around with in my own kitchen for several years. I am honored and thrilled to take you on a small culinary adventure by bringing some of my “flavor combinations” to you this evening.

You will notice that adjacent to each dish are flags. Each flag represents the country fusions of the dish. I thought it would be fun if we played a guessing game as you ate and you tried naming all of the flags. I did this with my fifth grade students Thursday as a trial run so I guess this will be our own little version of “Are you smarter than a fifth grader?” One of my students did match all of them correctly!

Here’s what I’ve prepared for you this evening…

Roasted Beets and Goat Cheese Salad w/ Orange Vinaigrette and Spiced Walnuts

Jerk Chicken Satay with a Peanut or Jerk sauce (depending on if you like it mild or spicy)

Red Curry Risotto topped with Chili Lime Cashews

Southern Sweet Potatoes “Patatas Brava” topped with Kale and Black Eye Pea Stew - ( hot sauce(s)

Dessert: Oreo Sushi and Donut Fortune Cookies

Drinks: Mango Pineapple Aqua Fresca and Otai (Watermelon Drink)

I do hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed preparing! As I always say, it is my pleasure to please your palate!