2019 Bucket List

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As far as years go, 2018 is certainly a tough act to follow. This was a year of life-changing milestones, among them getting married, relaunching Geo’s Table, and completing the first year of my doctoral program in Educational Technology. As the year progressed and my schedule became more open, I took a moment to breathe and reflect. For the first time in my life, I was seeing my dreams and goals actualized, and to be quite frank, it scared me. Instead of recognizing my abundance, I became anxious about the future and my plans. For a period, I spiraled into a state of distress about my life and where it was going.

Through the support and encouragement of my phenomenal husband, family, and friends, I spent the latter part of 2018 beginning a personal journey grounded in mental and physical well being. I recognized the power in sharing my story, and receiving others’ experience with an open heart and mind. I recognized now how honoring my fears has been a necessary step in moving forward and has helped me in making space for new opportunities and challenges.

As I move into 2019, I plan to use the self work of 2018 as a springboard. Geo’s Table has always been a therapeutic outlet for me, and this year will be no different. For 2019, instead of a bucket list of places to try, or travel adventures, my focus is on Geo’s Table, and following a simple mantra: Move forward.

2018 revealed to me that a year, a month and even a moment or experience can challenge you or take your life in new or more interesting directions. So in the spirit of moving forward, I present my 2019 bucket list. It is my hope that other bloggers and content creators might decide to join me in my conquest, as I check-off each bucket list item, and expand Geo’s Table into new territory.

2019 Bucket List

  1. Take course to enhance a skill.

2. Collaborate with at least 5 local content creators, business owners or brands.

3. Collaborate with at least 5 content creators, business owners or brands of color.

4. Pitch a story to at least 3 media outlets related to food or lifestyle.

5. Be a guest on a podcast.

6. Develop a three year plan for the blog with quarterly milestones.

7. Build a resource guide or course for the blog.

8. Attend a bloggers’ conference or retreat.

9. Complete a photography challenge (with my DSLR camera).

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Table Talks: Chef Tonia Renae

There is nothing like a meal prepared by the hands of someone who is passionate about their craft and confident in their approach. That's the essence of dining with Chef Tonia Renae, a professional personal chef and founder of Bless Supper Club. Perched at her counter, in a kitchen personally styled and renovated by her wife,  it felt like I was at home dining with an old friend. I was impressed by the personal and refreshing dining experience, and her effortless finesse as she maneuvered about her space.  As I admired her genius at work I got the opportunity to discuss her life, her aspirations and how food became her passion and art. 

Table Talk with Chef tonia Renae

WHAT SHE PREPARED

Pan-Seared Scallops with Asparagus and Purple Potatoes

TABLE TOPICS

HER STORY

Originally from Connecticut, Chef Tonia moved to Philadelphia nearly a decade ago. She playfully (yet candidly) admits her culinary journey stemmed from a necessity to "show off on a budget." Little did she know that learning how to make what some would consider more "high brow dishes" on modest means would ultimately ignite her life’s passion. Today, with over twenty years of experience, formal training in the culinary arts and an impressive resume in the food and hospitality industry, she has taken on the role of professional private chef, recipe developer and curator of phenomenal dining experiences through her brainchild Bless Supper Club.

 BLESS SUPPER CLUB & BEING A PRIVATE CHEF

In October of 2016 Chef Tonia created Bless Supper Club, a pop-up dinner series.  Partnering with her wife, Bless Supper Club centers on creating a unique and creative dining experience for foodies of all backgrounds. The supper club, which takes place in the comforts of their home, has allowed them both to nurture what they call a "creative movement" propelled by both of their passions. 

Being extremely introspective, Chef Tonia sees each supper club event as an opportunity to try something new and improve on the past. With this in mind, each event places an emphasis on fresh décor and a curated menu focused on the season or an event occurring during that time of year. Past themes have included a southern style brunch, and "Fat Tuesday." Another event is in the works for the near future, and she is sure it will be something different than what any attendee has experienced before.

Photos from @cheftoniarenae on Instagram

HER SPECIALTIES

As with many of us, nostalgia is the basis of Chef Tonia's favorite meal to prepare: Chicken and Dumplings. She is confident that hers is as good as your grandmother's and has a "Chicken and Dumplings Fan Club" to prove it! She recalls the first time she introduced her recipe to her wife, and how it was an instant hit with her friends and family. Now, there's a "Chicken and Dumplings" fan club ! While she enjoys experimenting with different types of cuisine,  she notes that seafood (of all types) is her "specialty of the moment." She also loves to infuse Caribbean spices and influences into her dishes. For my meal she prepared a simply but perfectly pan-seared scallops paired with asparagus and purple potatoes. Her technique was flawless, the flavors were impeccable, and it was all prepared within a blink of an eye. 

PHILLY FAVES

When it comes to dining locally, there is a top contender: South Restaurant and Jazz Parlor. She's attracted to the live jazz music and the delicious southern-inspired menu. She also vouches for their top-notch quality of service and cuisine. An honorable mention: Chili Garden, a recent favorite of hers and her family. Chili Garden located in University City, and boasts a menu of authentic Chinese and Asian cuisine. 

WHAT'S NEXT?

Excited by the open possibilities the future might present to her, Chef Tonia informs, very humbly, that she has seen her following on social media increase steadily. She says, with a smile,
"this means at least two or five people are paying attention." As her brand grows, she has been offered a number of opportunities to grow her business and venture into new spaces. More recently, this has led to her becoming a private chef for a local NFL player as well as being tapped to participate in food-related Philadelphia events. With these accolades under her belt, she is looking forward to attracting and working with new clients to offer more in-home private dining experiences and events. Although these desires are immediate, being the owner of a small restaurant is a long-standing dream she looks forward to actualizing in the future. 

For now, Chef Tonia is taking opportunities as they come to her, and continuing to focus on what she is most passionate about making great food for the people who appreciate it most.

Photos from www.cheftoniarenae.com

For more information on Chef Tonia Renae's services and Bless Supper Club, visit her website and follow her on social media:

Website: www.cheftoniarenae.com

Instagram: @cheftoniarenae

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Welcome to the RELAUNCH!

I started Geo’s Table with three simple tenets in mind: Eat well. Share experiences. Cultivate community.

After taking a hiatus it’s time for me to get back to basics.

The past year has been a whirlwind of life events that have consumed any reminance of free time. I started my doctoral degree, moved into an awesome new loft, travelled to new cities - and in the midst of all this planned a wedding and got MARRIED!

Pretty insane, right?

Now that the dust has settled and I’m not firing on all cylinders - I am ready to bring you Geo’s Table 3.0. 

I’ve always fancied the number 3, and in its third year I’m bringing my readers an UPGRADE.

  • An updated logo and color palette
  • New content with more collaborations 
  • Content that juxtaposes food, lifestyle and community!

I’m super excited to see what the future of Geo's Table has in store for all of you my Thanks for coming back and taking a seat!

Much love,

- Geo

CHECK OUT SOME FLICKS from MY amazing year

Geo's Table presents 28 Days of Soul!

28 Days of Soul

Happy February! It's almost unreal that we have already spent a whole month in 2016! Only 31 days in and I can proudly state 2016 has started with a thrilling bang, including landing a new job, and gaining more opportunities to venture into the magazine writing space. Now it's time to sustain that momentum, and bring some innovative ideas to Geo's Table.

As many of you know, February is recognized as Black History Month, and in honor of this I am elated to bring you the first Geo's Table series 28 Days of Soul. Although this year denotes a leap year with 29 days, it is my hope that this become an annual series that is celebrated each year here at Geo's Table.  

Guided by my personal philosophy of Eat well. Share experiences. Cultivate Community28 Days of Soul will fold each piece of this to segments that celebrate my history and heritage. This will in

  • Eat well: Celebrating the cuisine of the african american community, I will offer new and modern takes on soul food and other personal favorites through a weekly segment called, The Evolution of the Black Kitchen.
  • Share experiences:  Broadening my personal knowledge as well as the knowledge of others has always been very important. Using Twitter and Facebook as my platform, I will offer tidbits of "food-related" history and insights throughout the month.
  • Cultivate community : Honoring the past, and investing in the future, I will also highlight movers and shakers in the food community (locally and beyond). 

I am anxiously awaiting all of the great things that this month will bring, and can't wait to see how it's received. Leave any comments or ideas you'd like to see!