Let's be real... Charleston must have decided to skip over winter this year. I am definitely into this. Bring on the blooming flowers, bright green trees, and bikini season!
So many people down here have an extra pep in their step recently because of all the nice weather. To me, spring means growth, transformation, health, and extra kindness. The past two months have been especially happy for many people down here, and honestly, I can say I feel the same.
This past fall, I met Melissa Ann Barton AKA "Mod Squad Martha" at the Les Dames d'Escoffier Scholarship Dinner. I reached out to her afterwards with a thank you note, and the rest is history! Melissa Ann and I joke around that she is basically my second mother, and people often think I am her daughter. I am so thankful to spend time with her. She is the definition of passion and dreams put into action. This picture was taken at the Southern Coterie in Sea Island.
A picture does no justice because she glows from the inside out. Here is the link to the latest article about her in Charleston Magazine. Her website describes her as:
"Christened “Mod Squad Martha” by a musician smitten with her many talents, her effortless style embodies timeless with a twist of hip. Her first gig was for 300 people for a Music City executive. She had “no staff, only a boyfriend and a daddy with a truck” - she had no company, she had no fancy brand. A jack of all trades in the kitchen and beyond, she was soon known as Mod Squad Martha the must-have under the radar chef of Music City’s insider affairs. Melissa Ann’s story couldn’t have been told better in a country music song."
At Sea Island for the Southern Coterie, I helped her cook for the presenter's dinner. Melissa Ann sells products of rubs, marinades, and vinaigrettes and she goes over and beyond anyone's expectations. She uses the most yummy ingredients and puts her whole soul into it. No one can recreate her work even if they tried!
On her menu was the music row Moroccan salmon, chives jive salad, bluebird salad, roasted pork, roasted vegetables, cauliflower puree with lavender and homemade yeast rolls, and her "C-Flat" cookies with an outrageously delicious trio of homemade ice creams.
We stayed in the cutest baby blue bungalow on St. Simon's Island for two nights. When we arrived, we ate Melissa Ann's favorite fruit, grapes, and made her signature toffee cookies. Everything requires careful planning and execution.
In the morning, we woke up early and drank our coffee in the sun room. We could not stop admiring the adorable details in the house. People could easily make fun of how Melissa Ann and I "ooh and aah" over anything or anyone that is precious. After the coffee, it was GO TIME. We roasted veggies batch by batch and prepared salads, heated the sides, and packed the car.
The presenters' dinner was full of people in the media (executives, writers, entrepreneurs, bloggers, producers, and editors) from businesses such as Pinterest, One Kings Lane, Better Homes & Gardens, Coastal Living, Domino Magazine, Martha Stewart, and Hoffman Media.
Afterwards, we spent time getting to know the family and neighbors of the people that owned the house that was used for the dinner. It was located right on the ocean. It was sad to say goodbye, but it was two in the morning! We had to rest up for brunch the next day...
At the brunch there were talented chefs serving up their specialties, ranging from from cornbread-laden BBQ to bite-size biscuits. It was a dreamy experience to be surrounded by true dream-chasers and go-getters. They are fueled by desire, kindness, and creativity. I connected with several of them, and even met with some back in Charleston after the event.
About a week later, we did a demonstration at Williams-Sonoma with her products and an extremely impressive smokeless indoor grill! Melissa Ann put together a display that lured people of all ages in from King Street. I love learning the process of how to explain the products in a way that'll appeal to each potential customer. It is important to keep it conversational, and to make it clear that I'm truly happy to be there!
About two weeks later, I worked with Melissa Ann at Charleston Wine and Food. The first event was a lunch paired with wine from the Wine Foundry and Stuart Ake, and it was held in the Historic Charleston Foundation office building on East Bay Street, overlooking the harbor. Now a bad view for an office~
For the next three days, I helped her at the culinary village...
It has always been my dream to be a part of Charleston Wine and Food. Amazing things happen when you open doors of opportunity. Just like it says on my website homepage, I am a dreamer, but also a full-time doer. There is no time like the present. I am driven by my passion and desire to spread happiness through food. People of any age can live the lives of their dreams if they connect with people, put effort into what they do, and love their work. I am always doing something to learn and to feel inspired. Thank you to everyone that has helped me learn. I cannot wait to help this city out like it has helped me. Much love.
XO Lauren Furey
Now We're Cookin'!