While brainstorming ideas for my hard-to-shop-for mother-in-law's 50th birthday--some four months away--I told my sister-in-law (Mary, photographed above with Suvir, Bret and Bob), "I'm going to write Suvir!" She looked skeptical. "I'm just going to write him! What can he do? Say no?"
I was curious as to if you cook for private parties.
He replied immediately (within 4 minutes!), inquiring about the nature of the event. I replied again, being mindful of how Mary has enjoyed his cooking--at two cooking classes at Cooks of Crocus Hill in Minneapolis, dining at his restaurant Devi in New York City with her son, and in the multiple recipes she has utilized to craft Indian feasts when her beloved family and friends gather at her home.
The same evening, Suvir provided a tentative "Will do it!!!" pending any scheduling conflicts. I read his message aloud to my sister-in-law and husband: "He'll do it!" and, perhaps doubtful by nature, they both replied "NO WAY!" We were on the cusp of something amazing.
Throughout the remainder of winter and through the spring months, Suvir and I communicated personally about every detail. We coordinated flights that permitted him to fly in and out of Minneapolis, but still allowed him to maintain his busy schedule. He graciously suggested his colleague's home, Bret's Table, as the setting for an intimate cooking demonstration and dining experience for our group of 8. And the menu! Deferring to Chef Suvir for the menu planning was easy. I just requested that the prepared dishes be vegetarian, as Mary has maintained a vegetarian lifestyle for 30 years. He suggested a new chocolate cake recipe and I swooned at the description and begged him to make it.
The day of the event, June 3, Mary went to work, suspecting nothing. Guests flew and drove in from out of state to be part of the celebration. When she arrived home, she was told to prepare for dinner. We pulled up in front of an unassuming house only 10 minutes from Mary's own, and she was perplexed. There was nothing to identify where we were--not a sign or banner. We were at a stranger's house, knocking and asking to be let in.
Mary walked through the living room and saw Suvir, standing helm in the magnificent kitchen. Our collective fear that she wouldn't recognize him couldn't have been further from the truth. She knew his face immediately but gasped at his presence. We were seated around a beautiful center island and tended to by Suvir's friends, who swathed us in comfort beyond measure. Wine flowed, courses were prepared before us, and Suvir provided the history for the dishes he created. The hours were filled with new cooking techniques and ingredients, bold flavors and freshness.
I am now in the process of compiling the e-mail exchanges between Suvir and I into a book to be presented to Mary at Christmas. The messages provide a richness and depth to the event--a back story that will illustrate how enthusiastic Suvir was to cater this event. Suvir's willingness allowed us to create this surreal experience for a member of our family who overextends herself for others; whose grace, intelligence, and energy are hard to match. This event was as unique as Mary herself is and we thank him dearly.
PS: Above is a photo of Tracy VanDeBoom with me. She is a wonderful daughter-in-law and a great wife to Mike, who is a wonderful son and husband in his own right. Tracy is amazingly gifted at coordinating things and made my trip to Minneapolis to celebrate Mary's special day easy and perfect in more ways than one. Thanks Tracy for thinking of this and making all of this happen. You are very special and truly an amazing woman. Wish you all a great year ahead and hope Mary and you enjoy many birthdays and other special occasions together. Thanks for including me in her 50th. Please come visit us at the farm. Charlie and I will cook for you and hope you will enjoy being on our turf.