Dinner on First: New location, same feel

Server Emmanuel Santiago-Silva (left) places the first course, a bowl of chilled peach soup, at a table setting during Dinner on First Thursday, May 18, 2023. (Cayla Grace Murphy)

CULLMAN, Ala. – Dinner on First, hosted annually by the Cullman Parks, Recreation & Sports Tourism (CPRST) Foundation, looked a little different this year. The event usually takes place outside along First Avenue in the Warehouse District. However, due to weather concerns, The Venue at Cotton Creek opened its doors Thursday night, May 18, to allow hundreds of attendees to gather, drink, dine and raise funds for the Foundation’s major project of 2023- a complete resurfacing of Miracle Field.

Upon entering the venue, guests were ushered in to the sound of live music from BREZ, enjoyed drinks from cash bars set up in the cocktail area and indulged in delicious appetizers including ratatouille puffs and scallops crafted by the team of Terri Pines and served by Executive Chef Rob Harper.

Dining tables were set with azure runners and fragrant centerpieces of hydrangeas and roses, with lemon accents brightening the atmosphere; all the while, local studio owner Emily Bussman painted the scene in real time for a beautifully bespoke piece to be auctioned as a memento of the evening.

Bread with herbed oil and bottles of vino greeted guests as they took their place at the table for a culinary experience brought in by the All Steak team. Servers weaved gracefully between mingling guests to place unique courses like chilled peach soup and jalapeño leek potato gratin on the tablescape, while the back-of-house team, under Executive Chef Anthony Barnes’s watchful eye, garnished and checked each dish before it was served.

Kelsey Alonso, general manager of All Steak, shared her excitement about being entrusted with yet another Dinner on First experience.

“It’s always a privilege for us to participate in Dinner on First,” she smiled. “Although the weather altered our plans this year, each working crew beautifully orchestrated the event to serve our community, and we are thrilled with the outcome!”

CPRST Executive Director Nathan Anderson made sure to note his gratitude for his team and those in attendance of the packed-out event.

“I’m thankful for all the creativity and endless hours of hard work from everyone involved,” he said. “We are blessed to have such a generous community that is willing to support projects like the resurfacing of Miracle Field.”

The CPRST team had high hopes for the end of the evening, with a lofty fundraising goal of at least $100,000 to fund the resurfacing project. A final total raised was not available as of press time.

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