It's one of the high points of summer in Utah–the annual Savor the Summit dinner, in which an ever-lengthening table is set down the middle of Park City's Main Street. Sections of the table are served by different participating restaurants and the result is a midsummer feast like no other.
This year, the event will be held June 23.
The whole thing is a miracle of planning, logistics and cooperation between businesses that are competitive on a day-to-day basis but come together to celebrate their piece of the mountains and to share the overall joy of living–and eating–there.
I can't help it–I have a background in catering and I always want to know how do they do it? I mean, this is Cuisine Unlimited's table from last year. Excuse me, one of their tables. No red checks anywhere.
This year, I decided to poke around a little and find out. For the next few weeks, I'll post a behind-the-scenes report of what it takes to present the world's longest dinner table.
You don't need a ticket but you should be making reservations. Savor sells out. Menu prices range from $40 to $150 per person, with wine or beverage pairings extra or included; it's according to each restaurant. Here's how:
According to Ginger Reis, director of the Park City Area Restaurant Association, the first two Savor the Summit events were a collaboration with the Park City Jazz Festival–a joint effort to attract visitors during the soft shoulder season. The Grande Table portion of the event was built on the classic Park City event of the 80’s, A Taste of Park City.
"The first two years, the event was a 2-day event, the first showcasing food and the 2nd day a concert. We quickly realized that it was hard to market really two events as one and decided to turn the focus to strictly showcasing the Restaurants (at this same time the Jazz Foundation/Festival dissolved.)"
Each restaurant pays a one-time participation fee based on how much space they would like on Main Street. The fee helps event organizers cover marketing and event production fees. The restaurants create and price their menus and keep all revenues generated from the event.
"Of course, the first few years, restaurants were a little leery to participate–they weren't sure we could pull it off. The first year, 15 restaurants joined in and served about 600 people. But it's been so successful that by last year, the number of restaurants had more than doubled and altogether, nearly 2,000 people attended."
And this isn't your typical picnic table, finger pickup food–these restaurants try to outdo each other in terms of menu and decor: here's an example:
Okay, reporter's reticence prohibits me from saying this is the longest dinner table in the Rockies, or Utah. I can say that when someone rises to raise a toast at one end of the table, the contagion action all the way down and back up Main Street, takes so long you may have to refill your glass before it's over.
That's a whale of a dinner party. And a hell of a good time.