A Place at the Table

Summers in the Midwest, we'd make the annual trip to Michigan. My parents met and married there, but moved after their first child was born. (My parent's first child, Tracy, died just weeks after he was born. My dad woke up, checked on the baby...and he was blue. He passed from a little understood phenomenon called crib death. The subsequent scrutiny and family pressure drove my young parents to seek a new life...elsewhere. In case you were wondering...my name, Traca, is a derivative of his name, Tracy.)

Memories of summer vacations in Michigan, are followed by a wave of nostalgia and visits with Grandma Derby. We weren't related, but she was the woman who nurtured my mom and provided a respite during her younger days. No trip was complete without a visit to Grandma Derby.

Like my mom, I learned a lot from this woman. The adults would gather around her table--the round one in the kitchen with a plastic table cloth. Flesh slightly damp from the hot, humid air, you learned not to move your arms around much, being forced to peel the tablecloth from your arms first.

As the adults caught up on family gossip, Grandma Derby always left a seat for me. She'd fix my cup with milk, coloring it with the barest hint of coffee. Feet swinging from my seat, I'd sit and listen for hours, silent as could be. I learned quickly. The moment I made a sound...my father would send me out to play.

Happy with my place at the table, I practiced being invisible.

rapid learning that occurs during a brief receptive period, typically soon after birth or hatching, and establishes a long-lasting behavioral response to a specific individual or object, as attachment to parent, offspring, or site.

- To impart a strong or vivid impression of: "We imprint our own ideas onto acts" (Ellen Goodman).

- A distinguishing influence or effect: Spanish architecture that shows the imprint of Islamic rule.

Since my early years, I have been imprinted by my place at Grandma Derby's table. I dream of experiences like TED, where the brightest minds come together over food and discuss ideas. I read about artist salons and daydream about conversations with writers, artists, poets, chefs, farmers, architects, politicians, activists....

The film "A Partner to Genius" was another influence. Architect Frank Llyod Wright and his wife Olgivanna built their home, Taliesin West in the Arizona desert. There, apprentices would live and work on the property. Olgivanna was intrigued by the idea of developing young architects both in their work and the arts. Saturday nights, the most influential minds of their time came for dinner. Later, they built a theater to include performances.

Those influences have stuck with me, and provide the driving force behind everything I do.

People ask me, "When do you sleep?"

Answer? When I'm too exhausted to go on.

I have the good fortune of knowing some of the brightest minds of our time. And if you knew me, you'd know...I have fantasises about bringing everyone together for dinner and a sharing of the minds. There are many opposing forces: geography, money, schedules, venues, blah, blah, blah.

But I chip away at my dream, one event at a time. Whether it's a food blogger conference, an Americana potluck in the roasting facilities at Stumptown Coffee, a trek to an artisan butcher for a demonstration in beef cutting, or I grab "America's Disciple of Flavor" for an umami lesson in the middle of a strawberry field, the important thing is...what did you learn? And I constantly ask myself: how can I bring people together for a shared experience?

For me, that's a life well-lived.

And I wouldn't have it any other way.

Hot Ticket: End of the Line Screening

For one night only...an exclusive screening in Seattle...and you're invited!

The directors have given us permission for a one night only screening of the film "End of the Line" (dubbed fishing's "Inconvenient Truth"). Following the film, I've gathered a panel of all stars to discuss sustainable seafood.

The event is sponsored by the W Hotel with food and a no-host cocktails before the film. Expect a bevy of outstanding, sustainably harvested seafood!

Note: Due to a limited number of seats, RSVP is required. Details below.


END OF THE LINE-www.endoftheline.com

WHAT: Seattle screening of "End of the Line", the first major feature documentary film about the impact of overfishing our oceans, followed by a panel discussion on sustainable seafood issues from regional experts.

WHEN: Tuesday, July 14th 6:30-10pm

WHERE: W Hotel, Studio 7 & 8, 3rd floor
1112 4th Avenue
Seattle, WA 98101

COST: $10 cash at the door- includes seafood appetizers prepared by Executive Chef Adam Stevenson.

RSVP: wseattle.rsvpevents@whotels.com

TIME: No-host cocktails begin at 6:30 pm.

Casson Trenor - Author of the Sustainable Sushi Guide. Casson is a sustainable seafood advocate and restauranteur (San Francisco and soon to be Seattle)

Jon Rowley - A legend in the seafood world. Jon is a James Beard Who's Who of Food and Beverage in America recipient for his work improving seafood quality. He spearheaded the marketing of Copper River and Yukon River salmon and has worked closely with Taylor Shellfish for 20 years. Jon was among Saveur magazine's Top 100 list of influences in American food, dubbed "America's Disciple of Flavor" and serves as Contributing Editor to Gourmet magazine.

Becky Selengut - Chef, author, cooking instructor and founder of Seasonal Cornucopia. Becky is a writer for Edible Seattle and is currently working on a sustainable seafood book.

Shauna MacKinnon
- Living Oceans Society, British Columbia. Her areas of specialty include: open net-cage aquaculture and implementation of sustainable seafood programs (for retailers & food service operations).

Burning Beast at Smoke Farm

This weekend on a farm north of Seattle, chefs will be slow-roasting barn yard beasts...pigs, goats, ducks...you name it. It's a fabulous day out on the farm and I can't wait!

Here's the official blurb:

Burning Beast returns to Smoke Farm for its second, sure to be celebrated, culinary firestorm. The Stranger Slog called it "the worlds funnest and most delicious feast in a field cooked by Seattle's best chefs." Eleven star-studded cooking teams gather to prepare and master an assigned animal, vegetable and/or sea creature, whole or in parts, using fire, earth, steel and little else. The jaw-dropping list of participating chefs includes; Dylan Giordan (Serafina), Angie Roberts (Boka), Matt Dillon (Sitka and Spruce & The Corson Building), Garret Abel (DeLaurenti's), Dustin Ronspies (Art of the Table), Gabriel Claycamp (The Swinery), Ron Jones (Jones Glassworks), Tyson Danilson (Le Pichet), Jonathan Sundstrom (Lark), Zephyr Paquette (Elliott Bay Cafe), Jennifer Alphonsine (Circa Alehouse), Seth Caswell (emmer & rye) - and more!

Entertainment included! Featuring aerial thrills provided by the amazing Zita, the incredible Dyno and Tamara the Trapeze Lady! Plus, music by 'The Hallways'.

Atmosphere - outdoor casual. We encourage guests to THINK GREEN carpool, and bring along reusable plates, cups and cutlery (if you can). Plus - it's a lovely place! Bring picnic blankets, swimsuits, comfy footwear, and healthy appetites. No dogs please. Event takes place rain or shine.

Children are welcome, but must be supervised at all times. Under 10 get in free!

Burning Beast is a benefit event for Smoke Farm; a project of the Rubicon Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non profit organization.

Limit of Liability Notice: Smoke Farm is a farm. Man made and natural hazards exist on the property. Services are primitive. Dress appropriately. Uneven ground, open flame, sharp and heavy objects, trip hazards, noxious plants, wildlife, and many other hazards may be encountered. The property owners and event producers assume no liability for any injuries or losses. Be safe and have fun!