For “Winter in New England” (season 2, episode 13), Weekends with Yankee hosted a New England artisan dinner at the Inn at Hastings Park in Lexington, Massachusetts; an event that spotlighted regional designers and food makers representing New England craftsmanship and entrepreneurial spirit. Here, Weekends with Yankee co-host and Yankee senior food editor Amy Traverso shares behind the scenes look.
A New England Artisan Dinner | Behind the Scenes at Weekends with Yankee
We recently shot a holiday-themed episode for Weekends with Yankee that captures the magic of December in New England. One highlight: a festive dinner that we hosted at Artistry on the Green, the restaurant in the Inn at Hastings Park in Lexington, Massachusetts, with some of our favorite artisans and makers from around the region. Chef Stacy Cogswell produced a multicourse meal using locally sourced ingredients, including cheeses and charcuterie from New England Charcuterie, eggs from Pete & Jen’s Backyard Birds, vegetables from Wilson Farm, and an herb-crusted standing rib roast fromCodman Community Farms.
The inn’s modern New England decor highlights local makers such as Connecticut’s Dunes and Dutchess, whose sconces light the walls of Artistry’s dining room, and Rhode Island’s O&G Studio, which made the restaurant’s Windsor chairs.
Yankee contributing editor Krissy O’Shea, who also writes the popular Cottage Farm blog, set the table beginning with a central “runner” of cedar and purple heather.
She added bowls of clementine; plates, hurricane lamps, and ceramic trees from Farmhouse Pottery; linens from Mally Skok Design; and place cards from Sara Fitz. As the makers began to arrive, the crew pulled them aside for interviews and shot scenes in the kitchen and around the inn.
While Chef Cogswell worked her magic in the kitchen, I made my contribution, a crispy caramelized sweet potato dish from Yankee’s November/December 2016 issue. The crew filmed each step as I arranged the sweet potato slices in a blooming floral pattern. At first, the potatoes wouldn’t stand up against the sides of the greased pan and kept sliding toward the center — a surprise complication that rattled my cool as the cameras rolled. But as I filled the dish, they started to hold.
Meanwhile, guests mingled around the bar near a charcuterie board piled with goodies from New England Charcuterie.
Soon, it was time to eat. The crew did a great job of sticking to the margins of the room so everyone could eat freely and forget they were being recorded.
The food was rooted in classic New England ingredients such as winter squash, hearty greens, root vegetables, and grass-fed beef, but — as with the guests and their wares — every traditional dish was reimagined in a fresh, unexpected way.
Charcuterie and Cheese Board
Roasted Butternut Squash Salad with Pomegranate and Black Sesame
Winter Greens Salad with Bagna Cauda and Blood Orange
Pain D’Epi (wheat-stalk bread) with Caramelized Onions and Herbs
By the time the dessert course rolled around, we were enjoying ourselves so much that we didn’t notice the film crew had packed up and headed out. In my years as a food editor, I’ve attended plenty of staged “dinner parties,” with guests sitting stiffly as a photographer tried to capture an authentic moment between them, or where the food spent so much time under lights that it had to be tossed in favor of delivery pizza once the photos were done. Not so here. It was a dinner party that happened to be filmed for a television show. I hope that simple joy comes through in the viewing.