Tonya Ellen Bates and Frances Minten, co-owners of Gypsy Feed. (Courtesy)
Foodies, party-goers or just about anyone who's up for a good time, will have a chance to do just that this coming Saturday, July 20. The brainchild of Tonya Ellen Bates (owner of Partridge in a Pie Tree) and artist Frances Minten, Gypsy Feed will host its first-ever dinner soiree, "Conte de Fees," French for fairy tales, inside the Richter Co.
The tri-fold event planning/catering/provider of Catered Picnic Baskets (more on this later), is made up by a "traveling collection of artists, performers, chefs, writers, and in other words, 'gypsies.'"
Bates and Minten sat down for a chat over coffee to talk about how Gypsy Feed was born, and what they're planning for "Conte de Fees."
When did you meet?
TEB: We met almost three years ago. I had a warehouse where I had started Partridge in a Pie Tree and I had studio space. Frances needed somewhere to do her screen-printing, her art, so I rented a place to her and we immediately hit it off. I fell in love with her stuff and design work. We’ve just been friends ever since. We did a few catering jobs together. She’s done some design work on-site while catering (as hostess gifts).
And how did Gypsy Feed come about?
TEB: We’ve talked about doing something on and off for a long time. Fran went on this excursion and became this gypsy.
FM: She would text me, “Come home and help me, gypsy.”
TEB: And she was eating food along the way. One night, when she had returned, we said 'you know what, let’s stop talking about throwing parties and feeding people. Let’s just do it. Let’s throw really badass parties, and let’s do it frequently.' This was at like 3 a.m. Frances was very in love with the idea of gypsy and we thought, well how are we going to convey the party and food aspect of it. Gypsy does convey that. We played around with different words. It was like Ah-ha.
How do you decide who you team up with?
FM: We bring in people that we feel match our energy. We plan on having different artists, music, entertainment.
TEB: We really want to provide good service. Service you might find when you go into a restaurant. That’s a really big piece for us. We have training meetings and I know this is something that will evolve. These aren’t volunteers. These are actual staff.
FM: We’re training them on our menu, and each menu will be different.
Let's talk about the first shindig...
FM: Conte de Fees is French for fairy tales. We’ve known Mario Guajardo (of The Richter Co.), on and off for the last few years, and he’s always been very welcoming, very gracious. He throws small shindigs, intimate. When we thought about where we wanted to have our first feeding, we approached him and he thought it was a great idea.
TEB: I haven’t been to Paris, so I can’t say that it’s the same, but it has this boutique, café, romantic, Parisian vibe. It just screams dinner soiree. The lighting, the mirrors on the walls. Everything about it was something I thought we could work with. From there, it turned into this 1960s French Parisian fairy tale.
FM: The whole idea with Gypsy Feed is we like to cover certain aspects with each party: visual, soundscape, atmosphere, and the menu. We want it to be a party, not just a pop up dinner. For this event, we’ll have Amada Miller do a landscape mural on the windows.
TEB: We’re having a 1960s vinyl, full vinyl (this is important) DJ, which we think is what makes a true DJ, especially if you’re speaking of the 1960s. We’ll have film projection on the wall; it’ll all be a surprise. During the dinner itself, we’ll have some background ambient 1960s stuff happening.
FM: The menu will be hand-screen printed, so that’ll be their take-home gift for the night. Our ticket sales are affordable. We want to bring together different people.
TEB: They’re not only getting a really nice dinner, but they’re getting
FM: Culture, art.
A portion of the proceeds will go toward the University Health System's Mobile Mammography van...
TEB: The mobile mammography bus will be on-site and they’ll give a little speech. They’ll hand out little goodie bags with information on how it works and how they might be able to utilize their services.
Why did you decide to do that?
TEB: Bottom line, it’s about building community. There are some amazing people here. I was away for 24 years, but I came back to a place that just screamed build community, build business. In order to see SA take its place on the map, it has to be through community. I give back here and there, but I always said that if I ever did something like this, we’d give back. It’ll always be a part of the mission statement.
How did the menu come about?
TEB: It all started with fondue, but we decided to go into different things.
FM: We both love 1960s design, fashion and kitsch. We decided to scale it back. Beouf Bourguinon is essential to a 1960s party.
TEB: I’m one of Julia Child’s biggest fans
we wanted to do something fun, not so complicated. Where can you go around here to get beouf bourguinon.
FM: The order of the menu is also very French. Our first course will be our Catered Picnic Baskets
TEB: They’re charcuterie boards with pate, a picnic sausage, smoked quail; Fran loves to pickle so there will be pickles there.
FM: I’m making a chevre cheese.
TEB: A lot of the stuff is coming from Farm to Table; and I have pretty good relationships with farmers.
Tickets for Conte de Fees are still on sale; $70, 7:30-11:30 p.m., Richter Co. 616 Broadway. Visit gypsyfeed.com for menu details.