Mariah and Thomas Pisha-Duffly’s "Hams and Clams" Family Feast at Slab

MG_4212.jpg

This time around, Family Feast took place at Slab Sicilian Street Food. The Ham came from Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams, Fresh clams were provided by Winter Point Oysters, and Beer was on tap thanks to Banded Horn Brewing. Of the concept of hams and clams, Thom told Adam Callaghan over at Eater Maine that "the marriage of pork and shellfish is as good as it gets." You can read their conversation about the event here.

For our previous coverage of Family Feast:

I have written and re-written this essay a dozen times, each iteration becoming more sprawling, sentimental, and over-stuffed with detail about our relationship with the Pisha-Dufflys and their creation.

Included were recollections of our friend and occasional collaborator John R. Myers encouraging us to check out the family style pop up, and the period between meeting Thom and the first event we attended at Grace in which we hoped spectacle would match our initial impressions of him. In that first conversation, he had been so enthusiastic and in love with his heritage and the opportunity to provide for people this experience that there was no way, right? We were bound to be disappointed, if even just a little bit. 

I described that night in which our minds were blown, along with the minds of some of the very best in the industry—with many of whom we were seated—one large format Indonesian-inspired dish at a time. I meditated on Family Feast as it existed before we came to document it, a series of smaller events, which eventually came to be hosted at Nosh, where Jay Loring, our friend and trusted taste-maker, became an evangelist for it and its creators. I discussed the dynamic between Thom and Mariah, about how, in Thom's words: "I can get really keyed up because I feel really passionately about what I do, and I feel this way especially about Family Feast. So sometimes when things aren’t running as smooth as possible, I can be a cunt."

I wanted to offer all of this because our approach to Family Feast coverage has been to fabricate these long, sprawling, oral documentary style reports edited from the testimony of attendees and those close and related to the event. It would be clearer, though, if we very simply said that we love Thom and Mariah, and we are very appreciative of the opportunity they have given us to get so close to their creation. We have covered their events for half of this year now, and watched those happenings evolve. And while nothing has been declared officially, now that Thom is staring down the barrel of working on a restaurant opening with our friends and clients at Hugo's and Eventide, it feels like the series might be slowing down for a bit. As Adam Callaghan suggested over at Eater Maine, this is "potentially bad news for pop-up fans but great news for Thomas Pisha-Duffly fans." 

Further, I wanted to offer all of this because we have come to love not only these people, but the related cast of characters. It has been a privilege for us to get close to it, and to watch what happens when it is the goal of two people to rally a talented community to provide an awesome—in the truest meaning of the word—experience for those interested enough to show up. Thom and Mariah have wanted nothing more than to ensure people have a good time, that attendees leave every event gobsmacked, that they are—in the words of Mariah herself—shocked and awed, and the hosts have been successful at every turn. And we have been given front-row seats to watching a new generation of a hybrid pedigree come of age. Thom brings the influence of his mother and grandmother into his game, Thom and Mariah the influence of their travels and their work with, among many, the leadership of Hugo's—past and present—and Duckfat. As the latter are both friends and clients of ours, we have had the unparalleled opportunity to see those we work with not only for what they have created over the course of our documentation, but what they have helped to shape and spawn. And we have seen the culinary and creative community coalesce around this great thing, all emerging talents or greats in their own right, including but not limited to Kim Rodgers, John R. Myers, Briana Holt, Jason Williams, Jessie Lacey, Pete Sueltenfuss and many, many more. 

Most importantly, though, we have gotten to eat extraordinarily well, to be a part of something great, to love those involved, and to feel loved in the process. However Family Feast ends up progressing, we look forward to participating in whichever way we can. This is our family, and we are honored (and—a nod to Mariah—shocked and awed) to be a part of it.

— Alex