Chef Tonia Renae's Mardi Gras Pop-Up Dinner
There's a ton of talented chefs in the city of Philadelphia. I've been lucky enough to meet a few of them. One person who I find very special is Chef Tonia Renae. She's certainly one of Philly's gems. As time passes by, she continues to shine more and more. In the fall of 2016, I was personally invited to her first pop up dinner (https://www.funphillyfoodie.com/home/2017/1/5/bless-supperclub-pop-up-dinner). It was an honor to be apart of something that was a special milestone in her career. The dinner sold out and it was a success. Ever since then, I've been patiently waiting for her next event. Well, the wait was finally over. Tonia was bringing a Mardi Gras themed dinner to Philly this time around.
This dinner would be her second pop-up event of Bless.Supperclub. Upon my arrival, the first thing I noticed was the string of lights hanging above the room and the flowers that were placed around the tables. It was a lovely touch and it felt very festive. There was a live band with the talented singer Jakeya who performed at Tonia's last event. Her voice is absolutely amazing. I was looking forward to hearing her sing once again. Guests began to arrive and that's when the first course was presented. We were served a Muffuletta dip which consisted of salami, Italian cheeses and pickled vegetables. If you don't know a muffuletta is, it's a delicious sandwich that originated from Italian immigrants in New Orleans. In a way, it tasted like a delicious hoagie minus the bread. I devoured mines!
Following the first dish, we had Tonia's Mardi Gras wings served with Louisiana hot sauce and creamy dipping sauce. Tonia worked very hard on perfecting the rub for these wings. All the hard work paid off because those wings were awesome. They were a little spicy but it had just the right amount of kick. The flavor was bold and tasty. Great dish! Throughout the evening, the band played some really catchy tunes that made you feel like you were right in the heart of New Orleans. Some interactive games were being played, some dancing was done and people were just having a good ol' time! I enjoyed Tonia's idea of playing games for this dinner. You had to complete certain things that were listed behind the menu to earn Mardi Gras beads. Whoever had the most beads were to be crowned king and queen of the evening. Everyone had a ball participating!
In the midst of all the fun, it was time for another dish to come out. The salad nicoise was served. It had haricot vert (green beans), red potatoes, olives, tomato, hard boiled egg, bibb lettuce and salmon. This was quite a hefty salad. No complaints here, I love a generously made salad! The lettuce was crisp, the salmon cooked perfectly and I always love an egg in my salad. The red potatoes also filled me up a little bit. I couldn't get too full, we still had the main course ahead of us. For th last course, we were presented with a gorgeous Etouffee. It was made with shellfish, steamed rice and topped with a crawfish. I loved the presentation. The portion was more than plenty and there was a great amount of shellfish within. I was stuffed and more than satisfied after finishing this dish. It was my favorite course of the evening.
Dinner was finally complete and it was time dessert. Tonia made delicious butter pecan cookies that she placed in little brown paper bags sealed with Bless.Supperclub stickers for guests to take home. I don’t know how she made them but they were so good that a few people made special orders for more, including myself. Along with the cookies, there were also cake and cupcakes. They were made by Liz Vazquez (owner/operator of LV Confections & Catering). She made a Mardi Gras themed cake and cupcakes topped with beautifully decorated strawberries.
As we approached the end of the event, Chef Tonia had a few words to say. She thanked a few people which included her wife, family and friends who each play a special role in her life. She thanked each of them for their constant love and support. She was even so kind to thank me as well which touched my heart. She also gave me t-shirt that had the Bless.Supperclub logo on it, super cool. I'm one of Tonia's biggest fans. Since I've met her, I've seen constant growth and her passion for cooking runs deep. I’m extremely proud of her and I can’t wait to see her rise to the top! Thank you Tonia for including me in another Bless.Supperclub event. Stay tuned Philly, Chef Tonia will be gracing our city with so much more.
For more information on Chef Tonia Renae, please check out an interview that I conducted with her at https://www.funphillyfoodie.com/culinary-creators/2017/1/12/getting-to-know-chef-tonia-renae
You can also find her on Instagram at @Bless.Supperclub