Farm-to-table dinners pair locally grown foods with chefs who work their magic to create memorable meals.
Janene Puca knows a lot about these — the dinners she offered through her New Jersey business for many years were wildly popular. But a series of difficult events brought her to Colorado Springs in September 2020, and now she’s working to duplicate her East Coast success.
She is putting together a series of farm-to-table dinners in her new business, The Art of Dining Tours.
Here’s a snapshot of her journey.
In New Jersey, she joined forces with an event planner, a chef and a decorator to build The Rooted Affair, which offered dinners similar to the ones she intends to hold here.
“They were tremendously successful,” she said. “We’d plan dinner for 200 guests, and they’d sell out.”
But life began taking unexpected turns.
“In December of 2017, I saw my doctor about a lump I had on my neck,” she said. “I also was having pain in my left arm. He sent me to the ER, where I was sent to surgery. I had had several brain aneurisms. The recovery took a long time. My nurses said I was a miracle. I was lucky to be walking.”
She credits some of her recovery to healthier eating.
“I started eating more berries, fruits, and vegetables,” she said. “That’s why I’m passionate about farms and eating local fresh foods.”
Then she lost her son.
“T.J. had just turned 28 in 2019 and was killed in a tragic accident,” she said. “He and I were very close and loved to look at travel magazines and talk about going different places, one of which was Colorado. We both thought it looked so beautiful.”
Then COVID-19 hit.
“It closed my business,” she said. “I decided to move to Colorado in honor of T.J., who had said I would never do it. I packed up and moved without ever visiting.”
She began networking and meeting like-minded people, as she had done in New Jersey. And she decided she could build another dinner-themed business. She met Edward Salazar, chef and owner of the food truck Lush F2F (which stands for “food to fork”).
“I liked his food and his philosophy of using local, fresh ingredients in season,” Puca said. “I decided he was going to be my chef.”
The stars began to align when Puca met Madisun Truesdell, who teaches mindfulness practices, and the two realized they had complementary businesses skills. Truesdell has joined Puca in her farm-to-table business, where they share the dream of connecting the community through purposeful events like the dinners.
“Janene and I love supporting and working with local businesses,” Truesdell said, “and our vision is to enrich the community with events that spark lifelong friendships and connections. We want to cultivate mindful conversations and connections between people through something universal to humanity: mealtime.”
A series of monthly dinners at various local ranches and other venues is planned. The first is set for Sept. 19 at the historic Reynolds Ranch Barn, at the Western Museum of Mining and Industry. For $95, you get a three-course barbecue dinner paired with wine and beer. Salazar will source food from local farmers to prepare the meal.
Other venues Puca and Truesdell are considering is Flying Horse Ranch in October and the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum (date TBA).
Visit theartoffoodtours.com for tickets to the September dinner.
“Besides the dinners, we host other services like soulful singles events and work with couples to enhance the magic of special occasions such as planning the perfect marriage proposal,” Truesdell added.
Contact the writer: 636-0271.
contact the writer: 636-0271.