Like many eco-conscious eaters, Nissa Pierson wants to teach you about sustainable food.
For Pierson however, education does not come in the form of a pamphlet or a lecture — rather, in a cooked by a talented chef.
"The education is kind of like wrapped up in a little ball of party fun," said Pierson, a Park Slope resident and the owner of Gowanus-based organic fruit and vegetable import company Ger-Nis International.
Pierson's referring to the seasonal supper club events she began hosting at her culinary center on President Street this past winter. For each event, Pierson invites a local chef to create a themed menu made with ingredients provided by his or her favorite food suppliers.
The first event, for instance, featured a Latin-themed menu by chef Jacques Gautier. The five-course meal showcased organic mango and avocado suppliers and Gautier gave a short speech about the food. Then he sat down and ate it with about 40 other guests. Latin jazz mixed with the buzz of conversation. It was like people didn't even know they were learning, Pierson joked.
"It's just nice," Dan Aran, a local jazz musician who plays at all of Pierson's events, said. "A lot of people come, people talk about the food, and she makes sure everyone knows who you are and what you do. It's a good vibe."
Of course, Pierson's end-all goal is to enlighten her guests in as fun a way as possible.
"Demonstration classes and lecture classes are quite boring," said Pierson. "So having education sort of entering your blood through the atmosphere of osmosis was kind of a nice idea."
Pierson's message is simple: A community's diet is only as strong as it's suppliers, and one cannot flourish without the other. Ulitmately, Pierson wants her guests to understand where their food comes from, and hopes it will inspire them to seek out local suppliers.
"When they get here, they get to taste it first hand, which is it's own educational experience," she said. "They get to sit next to the people and have dinner with them, which raises the opportunity for organic conversations."
Pierson started offering cooking classes as an offshoot of her company about a year ago. She is a California native who grew up in a family that rarely ate processed foods and later taught herself to build greenhouses in Eugene, Oregon. Naturally, she wanted to introduce her passion for sustainable eating to others.
Though her cooking classes filled up quickly, Pierson realized that she was only reaching a select audience. She knew a seasonal shindig — that involved eating, drinking, and comfortable conversation — was the best way to get people interested in the origin of their food without them feeling like they were attending a lecture. And so her Slope Supper Clubs were born.
After holding two successful events at Ger-Nis Culinary Center, Pierson has decided to bring her supper clubs on the road. She's will hold four supper clubs in house each year, and two out of the neighborhood. She's having her next event at Bedell Cellars Winery in Long Island, a location she says is a fantastic backdrop for a tasty summer menu.
Preparations for the event are already underway: chef Andres Valbuena has put together a meticulously planned five-course meal that includes wild stripped sea bass, pork chops, and watermelon. He'll be bringing along people from some of his favorite local suppliers, including and Catapano Dairy Farm. Wine pairings are still in the works, but are sure to be sprinkled with some of Bedell's delicious gems. Pierson, who is an herbal expert, has designed the cocktails, which includes creative spritzers like a lavender and wild flower honey comb sparkling wine.
Tickets for the event are $130 per person and include transportation from the culinary center to and from Long Island. Supper club events usually go from 6:30 to 10 p.m. For more information visit the Ger-Nis website.
And don't worry, if you can't make this one, you can always catch the Gowanus-based supper in the fall.