The Fall Harvest Dinner, part of Gather’s Taste collection, has brought together another great community of people for two evenings of wonderful, locally sourced food in partnership with Green Bay’s own, Adam’s Heirlooms.
Jyll Everman, head chef and co-owner of Gather, is a renowned Chef, having made finalist of Season 7’s, “Food Network Star” back in 2011, and has never put her apron away. After her time with the Food Network came to a close, she continued to pursue teaching cooking, before moving to Green Bay, Wisconsin with her family and collaborating her love of food and her husband, Tommy Everman’s love of music, to create Gather (139 N Broadway).
Chef Jyll Everman has been preparing for this season’s Taste event for a few months, gathering ideas and inspiration from the produce available at Adam’s Heirlooms.
“I start planning for the next Taste event the day after the previous Taste event ends,” Everman revealed. “I’m inspired throughout the year; I write down all my ideas throughout the year and currently I already have three ideas for seafood, but that's not coming till January – I still have to get through this one first, but it's an all year process of trying out recipes and figuring out what flavors go together.”
Ever since stepping back from having complete control of the kitchen, and passing the managerial whisk over to Maddy Meyer, Everman has been able to step back into the creative side of the kitchen, the side she’s missed most.
In the many years of Gather’s Taste events, Everman has found somewhat of a partnership with Adam’s Heirlooms, due to the vast quantity of produce they put out throughout the year and the quality at which their produce is grown.
“The folks at Adam's Heirlooms are the nicest people, I leap at every opportunity to showcase their produce,” Everman gushed. “I've partnered with them the last three years for Taste events because when I went to their farmers market one year I was shocked by how interesting their selection is. Wisconsin is known for its incredible produce, if you go to the farmers market, everything is colorful and bountiful and beautiful, but Adam's Heirlooms have super weird stuff that I had never heard of. “
Some of the unique herbs and vegetables available at Adam’s Heirlooms that make Chef Jyll Everman excited to cook include different types of carrots like Gniff Heirloom Carrots, Juan du Doubs Heirloom Carrots, and Purple Dragon Heirloom Carrots, and Sunchokes or Trinidad Purfume Peppers. All of the produce offered at Adam’s Heirlooms is completely natural, and most can be dated all the way prior to 1900. This is to ensure that not only are their customers receiving quality produce, but also produce with a history.
“I love being comfortable being uncomfortable, I take their produce and just play, and how often do you get time to just play with things you've never heard of or never seen before,” Everman asked excitedly. “And they do such an incredible job with their produce that it's just constantly inspiring me.”
Because of the bountiful produce that comes from Adam’s Heirloom gardens, Everman often has trouble narrowing it down to the standard 5 courses.
“It’s so hard to narrow down the menu every time because of all of the delicious produce Adam’s Heirlooms has to choose from. For this summer’s Taste event, I could not narrow it down and ended up doing nine courses, simply because I wanted to have so much fun in the kitchen with what they had in season.”
Although Gather’s Taste events have now completely sold out not more than a week after tickets are made available to the public, the Taste events the public has come to know and love did not start out so well attended.
“We really weren’t selling out these Taste events until after everything lifted from COVID-19,” Everman explained. “Pre-COVID-19 we practically had to beg people to come to the events, discounting left and right, and suddenly, after restrictions were lifted from the pandemic, we sold out our first Taste event! And then we had another Taste event four months later, and that one sold out too! It was becoming so successful that we discussed the possibility of opening the event to two evenings rather than one, and both sold out as well! We’ve really just been getting bigger since then, it sucks to have to limit the event to 40ish people, but otherwise the experience would lose part of the magic.”
The sense of community brought people back after a year of solitude, but Jyll and Tommy always remember back to those first few rough Taste events to be proud of where they’re at now.
“We named this place Gather because we wanted to gather the community together – we want them to share these unique experiences, not have an individual one,” Everman smiled warmly. “I love it because we're starting to see the same people try and buy tickets right away and come back but they want to sit with people they've met at previous Taste events. People are meeting new people, creating new friends, new business contacts, because everybody bonds over food.”
Community isn’t only felt in the seating arrangement, or the decor on the table, or even the familiar faces Taste-goers have come to recognize. Everman makes sure that every aspect feels like a family dinner, even discussing the courses and their inspirations with event-goers.
“I come out for every course and I talk about where the ideas came from, how many times I tried it before it was what I envisioned, and I'll even answer questions people have,” Everman said. “It's about the gathering of the community. I want people to come along on my journey of food. You can tell how excited I am about the food for sure, which helps get everybody else excited about the food.”
Although Everman had every intention of bringing back the crowd favorite Jon Dory, a light and flaky almost whitefish sort of fish, upon the supposed arrival of the fish, they came to discover that the Jon Dory had gone extinct since the last time it was on the Gather menu. Everman, like the professional chef that she is, quickly bounced back and made a deliciously prepared Red Snapper dish for the Fall Harvest Dinner.
“I keep the menu slightly vague because it works in my head, but if it doesn't work on the plate I'll reconstruct the dish with the same ingredients. It gives me a little breathing room, just in case it doesn't work or an order falls through. I've never put anything out that I've done before in my life -- it needs to challenge me.”
Following along Jyll’s path of thriving under chaos, Everman revealed her most favorite decision of a menu risk yet:
"I looked at my pastry chef, Maddy Meyer, and said, 'I need you to make soufflés and I need 45 soufflés at once.' So we did some recipe development on that today and it was delicious, but that is a bold move to do soufflés perfectly timed in a dinner for 40 people,” Everman breathed. “We'll do 45 in case any break or flop, we make 45 of everything to account for mistakes, but it's a gutsy move. Thankfully she met the idea with such an excited attitude. It's going to be very interactive, guests are going to be able to do customized toppings with it. Meyer will be bringing her own twist on it to serve with a beautiful shortbread and different sauces. But that's the one I think people are going to sit back and go 'Oh, they are gutsy.'"
This might be the most Everman and her staff have practiced on a dish before a Taste event ever, usually, they save all recipe tasting for the 48 hours before the event, but this go-around it was all hands on deck to perfect this move about a week prior to the event.
“We timed it out today, it takes exactly 13 minutes and then we have 6 minutes before they fall,” Everman breathed out a laugh, “so I need to time it with the pouring of the wine at the bar, the wine being brought over to the tables, to bringing out the soufflés. It's going to be a timing game and I'm going to be a nervous wreck but super focused because I thrive under chaos.”
It paid off, each guest was served a beautiful and delicious chocolatey-cinnamony soufflé, with a little biscuit, ice cream, and whipped cream off to the side.
The evening wrapped up with guests drinking their wine, speaking about which dish was their favorite, which was most surprising, and a general sense of community bounced around the walls of Gather.
Tickets for the Taste events are based on materials and food used, cost of labor, as well as experience, so ticket prices vary for each Taste event. Join Gather’s mailing list to grab the first tickets that go on sale for the next Taste event!