The Mabry-Hazen House will host a dinner in WWI fashion next Friday.
Dubbed the WWI Centennial Dinner: The Taste of the Great War, attendees will eat five courses selected to explore the food realities of the homefront and the warfront starting at 5:30 p.m on April 28.
Built in 1858, the Mabry-Hazen house is a historic Knoxville home and a present-day museum. The house runs both tours and student field trips, where visitors can explore over 130 years of Knoxville history through the Mabry-Hazen family’s lives.
Patrick Hollis, director of Mabry-Hazen House since 2016, noted that on April 7, 1918, 25,000 individuals turned out on Gay Street to witness nearly 4,000 East Tennesseans begin their march to the European theater.
“Our hope is to commemorate the centennial of these moments and teach the community about those moments, but offer from it a different perspective, the perspective of smell and taste,” Hollis said.
Chef Chris Cantrell, the private chef at Chi Omega house and the owner of HeartFire Culinary, said that food trends of the period are similar to the present day for different reasons, with their emphasis on fighting food waste and eating locally.
“I’m making everything from scratch and going as far as sourcing locally to provide the authentic feel of local food in 1918,” Cantrell said.
Cantrell noted that research went into building the dinner’s menu to assure that the dinner correctly represents the time period.
“[Patrick and I] visit the McClung Library and research local newspapers from that period for recipes and food trends. Both Patrick and I have a culinary background, and we use our combined knowledge to develop the menu,” Cantrell said.
The event plans to seat thirty diners on the front porch of the Julia Meek Guesthouse. Cantrell will prepare the dinner in the House’s kitchen.
Cantrell aims to reflect both the era’s food realities and preparation methods while providing a true fine dining experience. During the dinner, Hollis will lead diners through WWI food history, including the impact of the US Food Administration.
“With each course, I hope to contextualize the dish through details of the experiences of Knoxville and the United States during the Great War,” Hollis said. “I mean, the US Food Administration imposed food regulations that significantly altered the pantries, diets and recipes of Americans at home to feed the Allied war effort that year.”
Guests are encouraged to come in their best 1918 fashions, with a prize to the best-dressed.
In addition to the dinner, the Mabry-Hazen house is partnering with Knoxville brewery Last Days of Autumn Brewing to throw a front porch party. In line with Mabry-Hazen’s two-part mission of preservation and education, the party aims to fund the restoration of the House’s iconic front porch.
Tickets for the dinner are $100 and can be purchased at the event link.