Yesterday was my 28th birthday. It was a long week, and I was having a rough day. I was exhausted and cut myself in two places at during class. I truly enjoyed the recipes we made for our second fish day, but when we were done, I just wanted to go home and lay down. I had committed to volunteer with one of the chefs, however, at a community fundraiser. So, I stopped home, took a breath, and then drove to Dorchester.
I had a slight idea of what I had signed up for with this event, but my expectations were blown away. Realistically, the chef (Chris Douglass) did not need volunteers for the event. He had plenty of people from his restaurants there. He really invited the class (and three of us came) as an opportunity for us. It was a chance for us to attend an awesome event in the community with a variety of restaurants representing. Chef Chris Douglass had his restaurants Tavolo and Ashmont Grill represented at this fundraiser.
Chef Douglass has been involved with this fundraiser for 22 years. They raise money for women’s health for the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester. I won’t lie; I think the concept of ‘Men of Boston’ is a bit patriarchal, but I do like the cause they support. The concept of this annual event is that there are tables for different restaurants, and each table has at least one “celebrity chef” helping to pass out food, meaning some well-known person in the community.
Not to brag, but our tables had the best celebrity chefs. It took me a minute to understand the concept of this event though. I arrived late because I was coming from class. I came and stood at the table with my classmate, and there was someone else standing at the table. I don’t know how it didn’t immediately click, but after about 15 minutes, I am looking at this other guy and thought, “I bet he’s a Patriot!” I mean, he had to be given his size. He was tall and broad and sort of dressed in what I imagine an NFL player would wear off the field.
I snuck around the table, and sure enough I had been standing next to a New England Patriot all this time! It was defensive tackle Michael Bennet. I chatted with him a bit as we passed out butternut squash lasagna, and he left before too long, since of course he is a busy man. I just can’t believe I was working alongside a Patriot. I have only been here for a month, and I already met myself a Patriot. For those of you who don’t know this, I have been a die-hard Patriots fan for most of my life, since I was about 10. This is the first time I have actually lived in Patriots territory, so it is super exciting for me. What a wonderful birthday treat to actually meat a player.
At our other table, the celebrity chef was Boston native and CNN correspondent John King. He was dapper looking, just like on TV, but he seemed like a genuinely nice guy. My classmates and I took a photo with him before he headed out. My DC friends would probably be a little jealous.
After things died down, we got to walk around and visit the other tables to try their food. There was a fantastic assortment to try, despite the fact that at least 5-6 tables featured dishes with butternut squash. I guess everyone knows what season it is.
I must say that the butternut squash lasagna from Tavolo was delightful. I’d eat a plate of that with no trouble at all. I also liked the butternut squash soup I got at another table. I also tried a wild boar meatball with cranberry chutney. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was absolutely delicious. We tested a few other things and finished off with some delicious chocolate cake. (Perfect for my birthday!)
Whatever weird feelings I had earlier in the day were gone. On top of having an off day, I was feeling a little lonely. It was my first birthday in a new city and away from my friends. I have celebrated my birthday with Chris almost every year since I have known him (well there was interesting one in there, but I won’t get into that). This year would have been the 10th one.
Despite not being with my crew, I had an awesome birthday. I got to try some amazing food, which we all know I am always down for that; I had an Octoberfest from a local brewery; and I met a Patriot! 27 was not my best year. I struggled to get through most of it. However, I have felt amazing since I arrived to Boston (even having dealt with a number of hiccups). I am thinking that 28 is going to be a pretty good year for me. I am glad to have had the perfect kickstart to this year.