Created in partnership with Zingerman's Cornman Farms.
Started by Michelle Adams, former editor-in-chief of Domino Magazine and co-founder of Lonny, The Maryn, is an e-commerce shop and an inspiration hub for design, art, travel, fashion, culture and wellness. Michelle and her team recently hosted a dinner party under a canopy of willow trees at Zingerman’s Cornman Farms in Dexter, Michigan and the photos capture a fall feast that’ll make you wish fall lasted even just a tiny bit longer. Inspired by past seasonal dinners hosted at the farm, Michelle and her team knew Zingerman's was the perfect venue for their dinner from the surrounding beauty to the talented team.
Here to give us all the details behind this dinner party and photo shoot, including the design inspiration and how she created the look, Michelle answers our top questions below. Read on for more about creating a secret garden of your own.
Tell us about this shoot and how it came about?
Last summer, our team produced a photo shoot at Cornman Farms for a popular garden website called Gardenista, during which we spotted the "secret garden" surrounded by willow trees. We immediately decided it would make a magical spot to host a dinner party! Since Cornman hosts seasonal dinners that we have attended in the past, we approached their team with the idea of working together to create a fall harvest party using ingredients from the garden.
Why did you choose Zingerman's for the venue?
Cornman Farms has absolutely everything we look for in a venue: a beautiful and authentic space that's sure to inspire, a talented and humble team complete with a spectacular chef, and a location that feels like a complete escape but is actually very convenient for party guests to get to.
What was the design inspiration? Did anything special go into the look?
We wanted the evening to feel enchanting, and on-theme with fall harvest without feeling gimmicky. So we decided on a rich color palette and worked with University Flowers to create arrangements that informed the rest of our purchases—from orange and pink linens to gold flatware, amber and purple lanterns, and so on. From there, we chose to spotlight the willow canopy and the secret garden by stringing lanterns under the willows in the garden's entrance. The lanterns highlighted the dinner table and provided a soft glow once the sun went down. To finish off the look, we chose a simple gingham tablecloth and classic bistro chairs to keep the table from feeling overly formal, since the party was outside after all.
What was on the menu and why?
We ate four courses:
- A field crudités board with thyme aioli, alongside romesco and farmhouse crackers
- Chef Kieron Hales’ family-tested basil madeleines
- An arugula, parmesan, and apple salad with red wine gastrique
- Cider-and-rosemary-braised hen with pomme fondant and brussel sprouts
It was indulgent, though easy-eating selection from Cornman’s latest seasonal menu. These are dishes with the heft to hold off autumn temps, even if they’re still light enough to allow for some post-meal wood splitting. But we most wanted to let Chef Hales demonstrate his mastery of fine European cuisine and its rougher rural cousins, as well as his uncommon knack for flawlessly tossing them together.
What was your favorite part of working at the farm?
Aside from the general ambiance of the space (the iconic farmhouse and bright red barns, the sounds of chickens clucking and willow trees swaying, the plentiful gardens, etc.), I'd say my favorite part is the food! Cornman's chef, Kieron Hales, is extraordinarily talented and an absolute blast to spend time with. During the party, he brought out course after course of the most incredible food for us to try, and even sent us home with a few of his favorite dishes.
What is your top tip for people planning an event at Zingerman's?
I'd advise people to embrace the farm. Create table settings and event setups that complement it, rather than trying to modernize the space and make it something that it's not.
Book your next event at Zingerman's Cornman Farms →
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