Sunday, November 18, 2012

Lee Chappell's Holiday Inspiration Using the Beauty of the Season

Lee Chappell expertly uses shapes,colors textures to create fall place settings
A mini pumpkin becomes the bowl to hold a pureed pumpkin squash soup

Deck Your Tables With Seasonal Bounty for the Holidays

Last week I had the great good fortune to be invited to a home cooked meal at the residence of legendary nightlife party thrower and promoter of creative expression Mr. Lee Chappell. Lee has an eye for talent and knows how to throw a party be it large or small regardless of the venue. Using local seasonal fare and exploiting the red, green and golden colors of Fall the effect for this dinner was warm, inviting and dazzling. The center piece was no more expensive than New York State apples like Jonagolds, and Cortlands set in an attractive bowl in the middle of the table. Lee is expert at mixing in real ingredients with naturalistic looking props creating a rich and sensual feast for the eyes. Beaded napkin holders, glass acorns, gold rimmed stemware and orange colored "leaves" worked perfectly with the patterned yet more subdued table cloth. As for the dinner itself, the ingredients were found in the local markets no more than a few blocks radius from his home. As you see here, a mini pumpkin was used as a bowl to serve a popular autumnal soup of butternut squash. The pumpkins were baked the night before and hollowed out after cooling. The seeds were saved to roast with the leftover pumpkin meat pureed and added to the existing soup base. Once the lid was removed the roasted pumpkins seeds were revealed to be sitting on top of the soup with an elegant flourish of thyme and rosemary used as garnish. Waste not want not. Talk about good and good for you! Everything was edible including the bowls as the pumpkin skin was tender and thin after baking.
As we sat in wonder my appreciation for every season grew even those we have been taught to regret. As my grandfather says "Everything God makes is good but you need to know how to use it. " Indeed.

Traveling to the Green Markets 

In Union Square the Green Market is back after being displaced by Hurricane Sandy. Gone are the power trucks and back are the farmers vending surprisingly colorful fare. Although I assure you my photo above doesn't capture the brilliance and vibrancy of these bunches of kale they were just as sunny as a summer bouquet. Exactly like over sized flowers I wondered how it was that I had never appreciated them this way before. A victim of pre - packaging like just about everyone else I know,  I only see them already picked clean from the heart , tied in bundles and laying flat in the supermarket looking boring. Here they were in their full splendor! The uses for decor are obvious with very little work on my part. I simply place them on a ceramic platter or other surface that will protect the furniture  while instantly adding seasonal beauty to the room. Post party the same kale will find itself washed, finely chopped and lightly sauteed for a nutrient  rich  dish filled with magnesium, calcium , C and fiber sure to boost any flagging energy with the onset of cold weather. It's worth taking a look at your local community farmers markets during this season with a new appreciation for colorful squash gourds, cabbages, and  celery root  considered less glamorous. Hearty and substantial they will add an entirely new dimension to your dining experience.
What have you planned for the holidays? How will you be incorporating natures bounty artfully into your festivities? I'd love to hear it! Happy Thanks Giving everyone! Blessings to those who find themselves homeless post Sandy.

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