Finding Connection, Nourishing Community

Words By Carmen Amberson
Photo By Erin Wallis

One family’s renewed commitment to celebrating food, family, and friends.

Summer in the Amberson-Volk household is a very busy time, full of celebration and good energy. Between wedding season and the summer tourism bump, both Joe and Carmen are usually up to their necks in creative work. Self-described as “two high-energy A-types,” relaxing at home was not an option when the world was crippled by COVID-19. After Joe’s restaurant closed and Carmen had to reschedule an entire summer of wedding hosting, the two knew they needed a project to keep themselves sane and inspired.

More Eatery was born out of necessity, both to fill the gap local restaurants had left in the community and to keep Carmen and Joe busy. Guided virtual dinner parties allowed for the revival of entertaining date nights and fun family dinners that lockdown deprived us of. Stay-at-home chefs could suddenly get crafty in their kitchens, celebrate, laugh, and try something new on a Friday night during all those days at home. The menus have covered a variety of cuisines, from novel Brazilian dishes to locally foraged fare. Boxes appear on your doorstep the morning before your class, filled with ingredients for up to five courses and a feature cocktail. Then, on the day of, a Zoom call connects you with your culinary More Eatery was born out of necessity, both to fill the gap local restaurants had left in the community and to keep Carmen and Joe busy. Guided virtual dinner parties allowed for the revival of entertaining date nights and fun family dinners that lockdown deprived us of. Stay-at-home chefs could suddenly get crafty in their kitchens, celebrate, laugh, and try something new on a Friday night during all those days at home. The menus have covered a variety of cuisines, from novel Brazilian dishes to locally foraged fare. Boxes appear on your doorstep the morning before your class, filled with ingredients for up to five courses and a feature cocktail. Then, on the day of, a Zoom call connects you with your culinary.

As wonderful, inspiring, and fun as these dinner nights are, they also work to support local fishermen and farmers left in the lurch by recent restaurant closures. Restaurant suppliers who had depended on a busy summer season to sell locally grown produce were left with pounds of rotting goods and surplus. More Eatery helps divert some of this potential waste, utilizing ingredients, like kohlrabi, that home cooks may not be familiar with to create gourmet menus. Carmen embraced this direct path to suppliers, describing “hot Swiss chard deals” that took place in parking lots to ensure she received the best and freshest local produce straight from the farmers who had grown them—often picked fresh that morning.

Sustainability is another important factor that Carmen and Joe consider when they create the menus for their virtual dinner parties. While this starts with local suppliers, they also consider ways to reduce food waste throughout the entire meal. Their Thai menu, for example, features broccoli rabe which is often discarded but can be added to create a delicious green curry. They hope that by featuring unfamiliar produce, their guests will enjoy not just one tasty meal, but grow to love ingredients they may never have experienced before. Their Zoom classes also include helpful tricks for making the most of leftovers and utilizing signature dips and sauces to ensure every bit of the meal can be fully enjoyed.

For those who may not want to devote an evening to cookinga five-course meal, More Eatery also added Barbecue Drop Box Kits. These allow for a fun day of exploring close to home with the knowledge that dinner will be as simple as firing up the grill when you get back from an adventurous day. Their Father’s Day kits were a great success, selling more than double what they had initially expected, and allowed many families to find a way to celebrate during a difficult and unknown time.Joe and Carmen have even opened up More Eatery for a few small catering events, helping members of their community celebrate birthdays and other memorable milestones with close friends and family. Their general “roll with it” attitude allows for More Eatery to grow with their community’s needs, supporting small gatherings safely.

More Eatery has allowed Carmen and Joe to get back to doing what they do best—bringing joy to their guests through delicious meals and creative events. As a dynamic and cohesive team, Carmen does a lot of the behind-the-scenes prep, and then Joe puts on the charm for the classes. “We just work better together,” Carmen readily admits. In the midst of all the meal prep, menu planning, and classes, they both make time for family meals. The highest compliment that can be given around their table (and the inspiration for their company’s name) is: “Tastes like more.”




Category: Volume 2