Chefs Earl Gesling and Richard Sweed have been catering events and creating private dinners under the name of Bodhi Personal Chef and Catering for about six months. Their first "supper club"-style private dinner, for Valentine's Day (but taking place on Saturday, Feb. 13), will be held at Fountain Prairie Farm -- a sustainable farm and bed-and-breakfast inn outside of Fall River, Wisconsin. (north of Columbus on Hwy. 16).
Fountain Prairie Farm was also the site of a 2008 Outstanding in the Field farm dinner with chef Tory Miller of L'Etoile at the helm.
It's a nice place to hold the dinner because the inn space is already set up for serving, says Gesling.
The menu is "more protein-heavy than it would be in summer," says Gesling of the Valentine's feast. "We'll base a menu off of whatever is available."
The six-course tasting menu will feature: Adobo pork belly braised with hickory smoke on grand queso polenta; a winter mix salad tossed in a maple vinaigrette with apple, bacon and goat cheese; poached trout with spinach, winter vegetables, couscous and lemon chive beurre blanc; pheasant breast and morel mushrooms with pheasant confit, foie gras and a risotto cake; herb-crusted rack of veal chop, whole grain mustard roasted potatoes with wilted spinach; and Door County cherry crème brulee with a chocolate soup shooter. Guests are invited to bring their own wines or other beverages.
Bodhi Personal Chef and Catering is headquartered in Lebanon, Wisconsin, northeast of Watertown and equidistant between the two main potential customer bases of Madison and Milwaukee. Prior to starting Bodhi, Gesling was the executive chef at Olympia Resort in Oconomowoc, and Sweed was his sous chef. They also started the kitchen at the short-lived "Out" nightclub in Middleton last year, but left after two weeks due to differences with the owners. That experience prompted the two chefs to go out on their own -- "be our own bosses," says Gesling.
Gesling was disappointed in the hotel industry, where he found "nobody cares what they serve, where it comes from, how it was produced." The lack of social consciousness and failure to support green initiatives and local food producers was especially frustrating for him.
Gesling hopes that come summer, Bodhi can start holding supper-club style dinners more regularly. "Fountain Prairie is a great place. We'd love to do farm dinners outdoors."
In the meantime, seats are still available at the February 13 dinner at $75 each; call Gesling at 920-988-8597 for a reservation.