FEAST Together
Spring 2012
By: Rachel Holder NO BIO

Middle Tennessee's newest collaborative kitchen has a simple mission: providing affordable meal alternatives. "We're trying to make eating healthy easier for the growing number of people who want to do so," says FEAST co-creator, Benjamin Sumi. "Volunteers help make the food. Farmers grow the food. There's food being made for those who can pay and for those who can't. But in reality, it really is just a kitchen."

Calling it 'just a kitchen' may be a stretch considering the impact Sumi's idea has had on Nashvillians already. Sumi along with his business partner and fellow private chef, Jenny Vaughn Harrison, created FEAST. The acronym stands for "Food Education Affirming Sustainable Tradition." The idea is that eating locally grown, fresh, healthy meals shouldn't just be for the upper middle class. Sumi and Harrison are partnering with local chefs - as well as more than 50 investing families - to bring the cost down and into homes across the Nashville area.

Chefs for the current season are: Martha Stamps who will offer a soup, stew, and entree with sides bearing her signature Southern flare. Casey Dailey will be preparing braised or ready-to-eat meats and side dishes. And Matt Bolus is offering a plant-based menu featuring a wide variety of vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains.

The FEAST process is easy. Families wishing to participate make a monetary investment at the start of the season to cover overhead and labor. Then they pay only what the food costs. There's a menu with different food choices each week. When the meals are ready, they can be picked up at a local FEAST kitchen site or delivered within 30 miles of downtown Nashville.

"A private chef would typically charge $250 to $300 for the three meals one could put in one's fridge," says Sumi. "Through FEAST, we can provide the same quality you'd get from hiring a professional, private chef for one eighth of the cost." For a family of two people, that means you'd be looking at approximately $35 per week for services and then another $25-$40 for food costs.

FEAST also offers various social justice programs: aid to the homeless and to low-income families, as well as, cooking classes that are open to the public. See www.feasttogether.org .