Community dinner series provides opportunities for chefs to show off their skills

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Tuesday, January 16, 2024
Dinner party series bringing community together through food and much more
Dinner party series bringing community together through food, conversations and much more.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A new dinner party series is all about community, in every sense of the word. It's giving chefs a space to show off their skills while giving the public a place to come together.

Chef Tim Dearing gave Action News a preview of one of the dishes he'll be making at his five-course community dinner on January 21st.

The dinner will be Dearing's debut to Philadelphia and his restaurant concept Little Owl.

"My friend, Rye, I met him when I was like 16, 17 years old," he said,

Rye Crofter and Dearing grew up in the restaurant business together in New England, sharing a passion for food and a struggle with addiction.

"I'm actually in recovery 11 years now," said Dearing.

But after eight years of also being sober, Crofter died of a fentanyl overdose last January.

Sunday's Little Owl dinner is in honor of him.

"He loved owls," Dearing said. "And so it's just kind of an ode to like him as a kid."

The money raised will go to Philadelphia's The Everywhere Project to expand harm reduction resources.

"They help people get in to rehab or get treatment and mental health," he said. "They provide Narcan and stuff like that."

Dearing's event is part of a dinner party series called Com.Unity.

"C-o-m dot unity, in Vietnamese 'com' means rice, but also to eat. So that's just a little nod to my personal heritage," said Roland Bui.

The event concept was created by Bui and tablescape designer, Alex Cahanap, of Citrine.

"It started out of my apartment," said Cahanap.

"It's become certainly a stage where local chefs that do not have their own restaurants tell their stories," said Bui.

There's a theme to each story for the Little Owl dinner Nikki Graziano of Bar Palmina will provide zero-proof craft cocktails with support from The Club for Connection, which focuses on nightlife sans alcohol.

"It's about sober, curious events that she curates," said Bui. "We want to make sure that people connect not just over the food, but also asking questions and connecting on a deeper level."

"Two people coming together to help chefs to showcase them to showcase, you know, everything that's going on within restaurants, building the community. I think it's very important," Dearing said.

Building community one plate at a time.

The dinner has two seatings on January 21st at Hagert and York apartments in Fishtown, which is donating the space.