David Smelson has been in the food and restaurant industry for as long as I've known him (13 years) and before then. Getting an invitation to his table is nothing short of a ravishing treat. So you can understand why I was so excited when this foodie and extraordinary cook sent me a photo and story of his dining room table as a contribution to the Four Courses "this is the story behind my table" series.
I've broken a lot of bread with David over the years and his knowledge and insight into restaurants and chefs and sommeliers around DC is really quite something. You can follow his culinary exploits over at his blog, Pleasures of the Table.
Enjoy the story...scroll down to read previous dining room table stories.
So, my wife and I asked my stepfather to build us a custom table for our wedding. He's a serious craftsman. We didn't get it until six months after our wedding. It is dark maple with birdseye maple inlay. Something like this would cost you thousands from Hardwood Artisans.
Anyhow, we were having an anniversary party and I was doing fajitas for about 60 people outside on the grill. The table was covered with a paper/plastic table cloth and there were appetizers on the table -- some hot, some cold. I was using my grandmother's chafing dish to keep the spinach dip warm.
Apparently, the stern was too close to the table cloth and it caught on fire. I was outside, just a few feet away, but I couldn't get inside because there were a ton of people in the way (the only door was through the kitchen and that's where most of the people were.). Someone standing in front of me at the grill (I had my back to the house) looks into the house and says, "Dude, your table's on fire." I said, "Well, put it out!"
Someone standing next to the table dumped their mojito on it, looked at me, and gave me a thumbs up. All's well that ends well.
A little sand paper and it looks almost good as new. To this day though, several of our friends, when invited to gather at Chez Smelson, say, "Don't set the furniture on fire until we get there."
Previous articles in the Dining Room Table series.
A Bethesda Dining Room
A New England Dining Room
A Dining Table in New York
To contribute to this series, send a photo of your dining room table and the story or memories behind the table (no more than one page) to Four4Courses@gmail.com.