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“The most magical moments occurred when we let go of trying to make things perfect and allowed ourselves to really connect with our guests,” says McClure (above, right, with Copeland), who believes entertaining is all about relishing in the present company.

Perched at the crossroads between Brooklyn’s creative scene and the local makers and farmers of the Hudson Valley, Ravenwood was originally a weekend escape from city living for chef and food stylist Chris Lanier and visual artist and designer Dana McClure. The couple has since made the bucolic four acres home—peppered with majestic oak and maple trees—and transformed it into a meeting place for cultivating meaningful gatherings. At the heart of the property sits a recently restored 19th-century barn, which serves as a backdrop for communal meals and various pop-up–style events held throughout the year.

Plates, Lail Design; Linen Table Runner, Silk & Willow.

So when author and chef Sarah Copeland of Edible Living sought a venue to host a benefit dinner for the FEED Foundation—a nonprofit organization aimed at fighting hunger—Ravenwood was a natural choice. Copeland and Lanier, who first met during their days working on the line under Andrew Carmellini at Café Boulud, were the masterminds behind the thoughtfully curated menu. Save for spices, nuts, and olive oil, Lanier sourced almost all the ingredients from the Hudson Valley.

Cooking on an open fire is a fun challenge, according to Lanier (above), who was drawn to the method following a trip to Chile: “You can’t just turn the flame down when things get crazy.”

“Our dedication to cooking in season and Chris’s relationship with local farmers was a celebration of the hard work that so many people bring to our area,” explains Copeland. Enjoying the fruits of this labor and establishing a laid-back atmosphere was of the essence for the hosts. Here’s how they did it.

Think Sustainably

Copeland served “pretty much my dream meal”: a pickled peach and burrata salad with pesto made from sorrels picked in her garden.

A self-serve approach to the cocktail hour came in the form of artfully assembled graze boards featuring cured meats, sauerkraut, and fruits and nuts tossed with a little sea salt and olive oil. This made it easier for the crowd to mingle without having to juggle plates and flatware—and minimized post-party waste. Copeland advises serving one or two kinds of cheese rather than being left with odds and ends from a wide assortment. Crudités can be chopped up and repurposed into a soup or vibrant salad the next day. Another way to avoid having too many leftovers: oysters shucked on demand.

Surprise the Senses

The graze boards and a layer cake (made by Rebecca Miller Ffrench of The Upstate Table) bookend the meal as an ode to spring.

For Copeland, putting together a menu starts at the farmers’ market, where colorful produce and seasonal favorites are ripe for the taking. She approaches her meals as a medium through which to capture the imagination. “I like the idea of a guest getting a dish and thinking, Well, this is beautiful, but let’s see how it tastes,” says Copeland, “and then delighting them with pops of tangy pickled peaches, sweet yellow tomatoes, a punchy sorrel swish, and a lush drizzle of the very best oil.”

Pull From the Surroundings

The soft blush tones that became the evening’s signature palette were inspired by spring radishes spotted at the local market and appeared in everything from the wild floral arrangements and hand-dyed table linens to the taper candles and rosé. “We’re trying to create a space and experience that we ourselves would be excited to discover,” says McClure of the community-driven approach that fuels Ravenwood. Keeping with that theme, the 26-foot table that stretches the length of the barn was built by Copeland’s husband, Andràs Gipp of Hudson Workshop, using renewable white maple wood harvested in upstate New York, while the plates were crafted by the Woodstock-based, husband-and-wife ceramics duo Lail Design.

“We thought of this as a time for people to form new collaborative opportunities,” explains Copeland. “There was a big creative spark in the room.” Farm Table and Harvest Boards, Hudson Workshop; Floral Arrangements, Hops Petunia.

Styling by Sarah Copeland and Dana McClure; Food Styling by Sarah Copeland and Chris Lanier.

This story was originally published in our Spring 2019 issue with the headline “Farm-to-Supper.”