Dinner with Charleston's newest 'supper cult'

Joining a commune

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Christmas lights lit the Commune dock dinner dinner - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Christmas lights lit the Commune dock dinner dinner
The most recent Commune supper club event took place at Geechie Dock in front of the backdrop of fisherman Mark Marhefka's boat the Amy Marie - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • The most recent Commune supper club event took place at Geechie Dock in front of the backdrop of fisherman Mark Marhefka's boat the Amy Marie
The Geechie Dock in Mt. Pleasant on Thurs. Oct. 16 never looked so put together. Strings of colorful lights danced down from the spires of shrimp boat rigs and lit Roti Rolls food truck that was doing double duty as the makeshift kitchen. Chefs Michele Weaver of Charleston Grill and Lauren Mitterer of WildFlour Pastry looked over the arriving throng of diners as they made their way to candlelit tables laden with glassware and silver. As dusk gathered, the scene could have been nabbed from any of a number of local pop-up supper clubs or routine events — we have many superb and creative avenues for shoveling this city’s great food into enthusiastic diners’ mouths — but a good number of ticket holders emerged from Abundant Seafood owner Mark Marhefka’s boat, the floating centerpiece of the night’s dinner, and the vessel that unloaded the feast just hours before.
Abundant Seafood's Mark Marhefka addresses Commune guests - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Abundant Seafood's Mark Marhefka addresses Commune guests

The meal didn't just center on the culinary talents of Weaver and Mitterer. The pop-up concept, produced by Cory Burke of Roti Rolls fame, pairs the city’s top culinary talent with regional artisanal producers. They call it Commune, and it’s one of the most innovative supper clubs in town.

“We took a special on-day run offshore to procure these fish for you tonight,” Marhefka revealed as the dinner explanations got underway. And there beside his boat the Amy Marie, which swayed gently at the dock, servers marched platters of smoked amberjack, large quenelles of the stuff, shredded and fortified with horseradish and mustard. There was Mexican street corn with pink snapper and big roasted radishes slathered in butter and salt, sea salt focaccia, and jalapeño cornbread.
Pink snapper with tomatillo salsa verde - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Pink snapper with tomatillo salsa verde


Commune
, now in its fourth month of dinners, brings crowds to the source of their food. The family-style platters overflowing with fresh fish represent a connection to the source that is sometimes masked by the media-driven celebrity culture surrounding today’s chefs. Rather than celebrating the creativity of a chef alone, Commune seeks to tie their success back to the source of production, whether that be a fisherman’s weathered boat or an artisan coffeemaker. You think you’re a good cook? Try preparing a four-course dinner for a hundred people around custom roasted Rwandan coffee beans as Commune did at their inaugural July 17 Cup Coffee event.

The emphasis is on the ingredient. “We brought you here tonight to showcase some of the best fish coming into Charleston,” Burke let us know. “Only this fish is fresher than what you can get in any restaurant.”

The credit goes to the collaboration. As we finished the last few bites of Mitterer’s delicious pumpkin tart, and sloshed down the last of the night’s wine, Chef Weaver stopped by to chat. The pleasantries quickly led to an introduction of Marhefka. As he finished explaining his retail “Community Sustainable Fishery” to a couple of diners, he eagerly greeted the chef, and gained a few new customers.

The next Commune dinner is Thurs. Nov. 13 at MUSC Urban Farm featuring chefs Bob Cook from Cypress and Italo Marino and Leila Schardt from Monza. To purchase tickets, visit communecharleston.com.

Piquillo pepper nage is plated before being topped with snapper - JONATHAN BONEK
  • Jonathan Bonek
  • Piquillo pepper nage is plated before being topped with snapper
Harry Root, owner of Grassroots Wines, kept Commune guests hydrated - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Harry Root, owner of Grassroots Wines, kept Commune guests hydrated
Potatoes were boiled and dressed with herbs and other aromatics - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Potatoes were boiled and dressed with herbs and other aromatics
Pumpkin tart with graham crackers and citrus cranberry and special flourless cake with salted almonds - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Pumpkin tart with graham crackers and citrus cranberry and special flourless cake with salted almonds

Chefs Michelle Weaver and Lauren Mitterer prepared the evenings feast using Abundant Seafood's fresh catch - JONATHAN BONCEK
  • Jonathan Boncek
  • Chefs Michelle Weaver and Lauren Mitterer prepared the evenings feast using Abundant Seafood's fresh catch


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