What happens when you host a dinner party for 1,100 people at a 1,320-foot, five-block-long table? You get Delray Beach’s annual March Savor the Avenue event.
The 11th Annual Savor the Avenue is quickly approaching (March 25th), where 1,100 guests will flock to the five-block-long, 1,320-foot-dining table along Atlantic Avenue for a feast prepared by 14 downtown restaurants. Here, we go to participating restaurant 50 Ocean’s Executive Chef Thomas Op’t Holt – who participated in his first Savor the Avenue in 2017 – to hear some of his favorite memories and coolest takeaways from past events, plus what he’s got up his sleeve for this coming one.
Cooking outside of your kitchen – especially when you’re cooking outside in a tent for such a huge dinner – requires some problem solving, says Holt. In 2017, his team popped the generator several times, so Holt was cooking with a flashlight in his mouth. Last year, he forgot to pack salt (luckily, another restaurant had his back). But the rewards outweigh the challenges, thanks to a special camaraderie among the chefs. “It’s a massive undertaking that makes you grow and learn, and can be a real bonding experience for everyone involved,” says Holt.
Most Memorable Dish
During Holt’s first year participating [n 2017], for the fourth course, his menu gave diners the choice of a bone-in prime rib with million layer potatoes, stuffed yellowtail snapper, or Gulf-shrimp-stuffed whole fish. But it was the prime rib that stole the show. “It was so big, it barely fit on the plate,” reports Holt. “People started referring to it as the ‘Fred Flintstone steak.’ That wasn’t what I was originally going for, but I was certainly okay with it.”
More than Just Food
“Yes, the four-course dinners with beverage pairings are what we put the most effort into,” says Holt. “But each of the participating restaurants have another friendly competition going on: the table décor.” Participating restaurants try to outdo each other’s tablescapes, which can range from elegant, to whimsical, to extravagant. A judging panel selects the top three winning tablespaces, but diners can also vote in the People’s Choice Award on social media by using the hashtag #SavorPeoplesChoice.
2019 GOT-Inspired Menu
This year, Holt and his staff have designed their Savor the Avenue meal around their favorite show, “Game of Thrones.” Expect “Dothraki” goat empanadas, “Esos” seafood stew, and “House of Bolton” whole pig. That theme will also be embodied in the tablescape design, as well as in the medieval, family-style service. Will it earn them the throne as “Best in Show” table? Be there to find out.