I recently heard that Abby’s Table is closing and I was so curious about what our lovely Abby Fammartino is going to be up to next that I contacted her to find out. Read on to get the inside scoop!
Dr. Samantha: When is Abby’s Table closing and what do you have going on between now and then that our readers might be interested in?
Abby: We are closing our current kitchen, at 609 SE Ankeny Street, on September 30th (very soon!) From now until then we have a handful of weekly dinners held each Wednesday and Thursday night at 7pm, one cooking class on Saturday the 21st at 11am (South Indian Cooking), a flamenco show and dinner on Friday the 20th, in which I will both be cooking AND dancing, and a few private catering events. In short, we will be cooking our way through the very last days in this space!
Dr. Samantha: Why did you decide to close the kitchen?
Abby: I have been operating from this location for 5 years, and hosting dinner events, catering and classes here for nearly all that time. When I initially moved in, it was to produce our fresh sauce line, which was distributed to stores across Portland and in Seattle, from 2008-2011. I stopped the sauce production to focus on the mission: to inspire eaters of all kinds to participate in a healthy food culture through our weekly dinners and classes. Now, to further focus on my mission, I will be closing the commercial space to work on cookbook and to teach more! In order to really see change happen on a larger scale, I realized that I needed to get more connected to real people and the real life issues they face that prevent them from cooking more and enjoying delicious food on a regular basis, in their home with loved ones (rather than just at a restaurant!) To me, my main goal is to inspire a healthy food culture in America, and to do that by creating social, real life opportunities that bring people together over fresh, seasonal food. People with restricted diets (gluten free, dairy free, soy free, corn free, etc) should have the opportunity to eat socially, and have the resources they need to learn to make really tasty food with all fresh ingredients. I teach an old style way of embracing the seasons, relishing in flavor, and sharing food with others. This is a part of a healthy life: food culture.
Dr. Samantha: Where can we find you after the kitchen closes? What will you be up to?
Abby: I will be teaching some public classes and I will be continuing to cater parties of all kinds, and will be cooking for these catering events at Taborspace on SE Belmont, a great non-profit and church space with lots of health practitioners onsite.
My main project after October will be my cookbook project: I was presented with the opportunity this spring to write a cookbook for a national audience. Rather than write about the commercial kitchen and the food I cook here with my staff, I wanted to write a cookbook that focuses on helping the home cook make the same food we do, for weeknight dinners and dinner parties alike. This next year I will cooking in the homes of about 60 people who are interested in hosting a hands on “cooking party,” in which I will be cooking in their home with them, so they can host their friends and family to a meal just like at Abby’s Table (except it will be their table!) In some cases I will cook with the host and their friends, and others just the host (depending on their preference). I have nearly all the spots full already! The accumulated experiences, menus and information learned from what it’s like to cook with all types of eaters in their homes will be the basis for the cookbook project. In a way, this is my attempt to start documenting a movement of people who are wanting to learn how to make a healthful, gluten free life sustainable and most importantly, fun and social!
Dr. Samantha: Do you think you’ll reopen again down the pike?
Abby: I never set out to be a restaurant. Rather, I wanted to help create a spark of interest around a healthy food culture in Portland and across America, in order to inspire change. I think a mobile set up is better suited to my mission. Though I am not ruling out finding a beautiful location down the line where I can host some events and teach classes (maybe in wine country!)
Here is the link to Abby’s reservation page for her current events. Facebook, her NEW BLOG and email list are the best way to stay connected to upcoming things after September! So go get on that list!