Excited chatter filled the air, wine glasses clinked in toast of good company, and guests were giddy with anticipation for the upcoming multi-course meal made by Auburn’s finest chefs.
Last Thursday, the 3rd Annual Downtown Family Supper took over Tichenor Avenue in the heart of downtown Auburn. Stringed lights left wine glasses twinkling on the long table that spanned the entirety of the road, which was closed off to traffic during the event. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the Auburn community was able to break bread together as one in support of the Downtown Merchants Association and nonprofit Nourish, AL.
Nourish, AL is a nonprofit that works to help families in the Auburn/ Opelika area who are struggling with food insecurity. This organization was started six years ago in a collaboration between Beth Hornsby of Hornsby Farms and pediatrician Dr. Katie Wolter. Together, they have been serving residents weekly by providing food baskets and medical services to families in need.
Initially, the foundation was solely food-based but was expanded to include full wellness.
“Our mission is not only just to feed families,” Hornsby said, “but to also be able to help take care of them and bring that medical side of it, too.”
While the event helps to raise funds for the organization, the awareness it brings to the Auburn community is just as important. Especially with the influx of food insecurity during the pandemic, having this event allows a greater portion of people to learn about Nourish, AL and provide support.
The sold-out event included over 150 guests. At the 152-foot family-style table, guests were able to mingle and connect with various Auburn residents. Meals were prepared by chefs from Auburn restaurants such as Acre, Ariccia, The Hound and The Depot.
Collaboration is the main focus of the supper and no one knows that more than Kasha Walters. While working as the director of operations for the Hound and the Depot, Walters also serves as event chair for the Downtown Family Supper. She works with the sponsors, servers and chefs to collaborate and create this fundraiser. Her goal is to bring together the community and highlight the best of Auburn.
Walters explained that it is easy to create an event like this because of the abundant support.
“There are so many people who love Auburn and who want to support it and this family dinner is a really great chance for us to gather around our common loves, which are great food, really good music, and great company.”
Coming together as a single Auburn community goes further than the table. In the kitchen, this event is a way to bring the best of Auburn’s fine dining together to collaborate on a single meal.
Robbie Nicolaisen, executive chef of the Hound, is the culinary chair of the event and organizes the various chefs and the menu for the evening. Although being the “culinary liaison” for the evening sounds daunting, in reality Nicolaisen says that working with these chefs is fairly easy.
“We’re separate restaurants, but it’s a friendly competition” he said. “It’s just friends helping friends.”
Nicolaisen said that it is important for each of these chefs to come together and create one meal in support of a good cause because it shows that everyone is here not to tear each other down but instead to support each other.
The hard work did not go unseen by guests. Praises were given to chefs as each course was brought out and throughout the night guests could be heard expressing their delight at the event.
One such guest, Dawn Schueller, spoke on the night, saying “everything was absolutely fantastic from the food to the new company that we just met to how well it was run.”
The funds collected from this event will help the Nourish, AL in the upcoming year as they prepare baskets of food for families in need as well as providing pediatric services.
Learn more about Nourish, AL online at www.nourishfoundation.co.