Inspiring Pop-Up Dinners Offer Community Members the Opportunity to Gather, Dine and Learn
Once a month, Amy Kushnir and Garth Blackburn of Argyle bring community members together to enjoy a meal, a story and an experience. In return, guests leave fuller, wiser and a bit more inspired.
The couple hosts community pop-up dinners through their company, Uptown Farmhouse, which they launched two years ago. Garth, a professional chef, prepares each dinner using fresh Texas ingredients.
Some of the dinners are served in the small, beautifully appointed “baby barn,” as Amy calls it, behind the couple’s home. Others are held at local venues—many outdoors, under the stars.
“It is an experience, rather than a dinner,” Garth says, adding that the term “pop-up” means the dinners are open to all in the community who would like to attend. “We wanted to have a venue to gather over food—to create delicious food and also memories.”
Participants dine at one large table, reminiscent of a Mad Hatter’s tea party (but much more sophisticated).
“We always make one large table together—whether it’s for 25 or 50 people,” Amy says. “There may be a stranger sitting to your left, and you’ll be friends before you leave.”
The couple, who formerly starred in the popular local Taste Texas cooking show, connected with farmers and ranchers throughout the state while filming. Now they feature products from those farmers and ranchers in their pop-up dinners.
The generously portioned meals include five courses, beginning with appetizers and ending with a sweet treat.
“Every evening ends with one of Garth’s signature adult milkshakes,” Amy says. “People look forward to that. They leave full and happy, and that’s how we like them. We want them to be very satisfied.”
Guests also leave a bit wiser. With each of the courses, the couple gives an explanation of the food and how it is grown and prepared. Oftentimes, they invite a farmer, rancher or distiller, whose product is featured in the meal, to speak about the product.
“There aren’t many places you can have a great meal and learn about the food,” Garth says. “We talk about what they are eating, how recently it was caught and harvested and give cooking tips.”
But, Garth says, the dinners are not overly educational.
“It’s more inspirational,” he says. “People are now so into food and where it comes from and where it’s prepared, but what they really want is good food and a story to go with it.”
The couple hopes to inspire an even larger audience soon. They currently are working with a national television production company pursuing their own show on a popular television network. Because details still are being ironed out, Garth and Amy could not offer specifics, but they say they are optimistic and excited for the future of Uptown Farmhouse.
In the meantime, the two will be featured on the Celebrity Chefs Stage at the State Fair of Texas at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 12. Their next pop-up dinner will be Oct. 27. Email Amy at firstname.lastname@example.org for details and to reserve a seat. Visit UptownFarmhouse.com for more information about Uptown Farmhouse, recipes and design inspiration. Visit YouTube.com/user/tastetexastv to watch Garth and Amy’s Taste Texas shows.
East Texas Honeyed Rum Adult Milkshake
1/2 gallon Blue Bell vanilla bean ice cream, softened
1/2 cup Desert Creek honey
3 shots Silver Star Texas Honey Liqueur (or substitute additional 2 tablespoons honey and 2 tablespoons rum)
3 shots Lewisville’s Witherspoon River Rum
Puree all ingredients together with stick blender (or regular blender) and enjoy.