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When the coronavirus pandemic struck last spring, a lot of good ideas were placed on hold. For Chef Tim McDiarmid, that included finally launching the mini food-festival concept she had been incubating for a few years.

“When I moved from New York, one of the first programs I started was Special Projects Social [a roaming pop-up dinner party]. We did 22 events in three years, all at different locations and price points, all with their own unique vibe.”

Once she opened her own venue – Southtown’s premier outdoor event space, Ivy Hall – she knew it would be the perfect place to revive and reinvent that eclectic, loosely connected culinary series in a way that showcased the 1-acre oasis. Last May, a kickoff event working with her fellow members of the James Beard Foundation Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program was in the works but had to be canceled.

Now it’s back, in a slightly different lineup. On April 11 from 4-8 p.m., the very first Evenings at Ivy will premier with McDiarmid and seven other local chefs. The eclectic selection ensures something for everyone, with plates by Jaime Gonzalez from Hotel Emma’s Supper, Alex Paredes from Carnitas Lonja, Cassie Ramsey from the Esquire, and Sonya Cote from Austin’s Eden West. Luca della Casa from Silo Elevated Cuisine, Jessie “Kirk” Kuykendall from Milpa Food Truck, and Robert C. Hale from the Texas Beef Council round out the stellar lineup.

Food and drink booths will be interactive, encouraging conversations and demonstrations. In addition to small plates, cocktails, beer, and wine, Chris Cuevas will provide live music. Art fans from the early days of Ivy Hall will be able to appreciate an exhibition of local art in the former garage – and everything will be for sale.

The mini festival will be spread throughout the Ivy campus, with reserved seating for VIP ticketholders, picnic seating, socially distant tables for small parties, open air, tented, and indoor options.

“Patrons of The Good Kind, Tim’s restaurant facing St. Mary’s Street, often don’t see the extent and versatility of the Ivy Hall space,” said Scott Jacobsen, rental sales manager, “so we love opening it all up to the public.”

“Great food and cool cocktails are wonderful, but it was important to me that the series have a community component – a way to give back,” said McDiarmid.

The first Evening at Ivy will raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The cause has been close to McDiarmid’s heart since she lost her best friend to cancer. The L&L Society has nominated McDiarmid for Woman of the Year, so she hopes to meet part of her fundraising goals on April 11. All additional proceeds will benefit Heard, a nonprofit supporting the mental health and wellness of members of the service and hospitality industry.

If you can’t make it April 11, there will be other chances to experience Evenings at Ivy. The plan is to continue at least quarterly, if not monthly. McDiarmid hopes to bring chefs in from all over the state and region and benefit a different charity with each new program. The ticket price and food offerings will change as well, opening the event up to as many different audiences as possible.

Tickets are on sale now at https://ivyhallevents.com/evenings-at-ivy/ for VIP access at $250 and regular admission at $175. The event page also has a link for anyone wishing to make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society instead of or in addition to purchasing tickets for the event.

Leigh Baldwin

Leigh Baldwin is a communications consultant specializing in helping individuals and organizations find their voice and share their message, easily and effectively. Baldwin’s diverse experience includes...