There are many good reasons to sit down for dinner with the family — lower risks of drug abuse and drinking among teenagers, the increasingly rare opportunity to talk face to face, full bellies. This April, a new local initiative is inviting the whole Las Vegas family to one very long dinner table.
Project Dinner Table is one part community pow wow, one part charity fundraiser and two parts locally sourced dinner party. The ongoing series, created by local marketer Gina Gavan and a group of advisors affectionately called the Kitchen Cabinet, will host 125-150 guests at a single table for chef-prepared dinners that highlight food grown or raised in Southern Nevada. For the first edition, slated for April 24 at the University of Nevada-Reno Cooperative Extension Orchard, Nora's Wine Bar & Osteria Chef Giovanni Mauro will be manning the kitchen and serving up six courses of seasonally inspired fare.
While the concept is new to Las Vegas, Gavan stresses that dinners long have been the setting for important community conversations. "This isn't a unique idea," she says. "We used to gather in town meetings and smaller communities throughout the history of the United States around the dinner table. That's where a lot of decisions used to be made."
Gavan hopes Project Dinner Table will be an opportunity for like-minded people to connect and converse while paying homage to local purveyors that many Las Vegans don't realize exist just outside their back doors. "We actually have a lot of local growers," Gavan says, sighting a coffee roaster in Boulder City and Quail Hollow Farms in the Moapa Valley. "They have the best farm fresh eggs."
Project Dinner Table will host a total of seven dinners this year, going dark in July before returning for the fall. While Gavan won't be announcing the chefs for the remaining meals until after round one, she's been in talks with chefs both on and off the Strip, like Todd Clore of Todd's Unique Dining, Mark Sandoval of Postrio and the folks from the Mario Batali group. Tickets for the April event will go on sale later this month for $150 each.
I can hear the dinner bell ringing already.