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

 

Summer Style with Dapper Black Box™ - July Edition

 At Geo's Table we believe in the uplifting and supporting those changing the game in our community. Brunch Style is part two of the Geo’s Table “Summer Style”  collaboration  with the trailblazing, Black-owned subscription service Dapper Black Box.

Each month subscribers receive a carefully curated selection of men's accessories, grooming products and other tokens designed for the style conscious gentleman. The best part, every month the products featured are made with love by black entrepreneurs and businesses.

As a bow-tie fanatic this month’s box included quite the surprise an Oversized Black Satin Bow-Tie  & Pocket Square by Tie Fetish.  Sleek, modern with just a touch of flare, it’s the perfect accessory for a summer black tie wedding or in my case, a fancy brunch in Rittenhouse Square.

In addition to the products from Tie Fetish, this month's box also included Coral Oral Toothbrushes and a BLK Proverbs Grab Bag.

Style Inspiration for July

Sunday Brunch followed by an epic Sunday Funday is my favorite way to end the weekend and energize myself for the week ahead. Armed with the confidence only an oversized bow tie paired with some bright pastel colors can bring - I stepped out on the town. Although the rain tried to damper our plans we were successful in our adventures for the day.

My photographer, Stacey (@phillystory on Instagram) and I spent the day traveling to some of the most photogenic spots in Rittenhouse Square - followed by a celebratory meal at the hottest new brunch spot: Harper's Garden.  

Check out the photoshoot below!

Wine and Chocolate Pairing with Phillip Ashley Chocolates™️

Phillip Ashley Rix is a talented Memphis-based chocolatier, and owner of Phillip Ashley Chocolates. The passion behind his exquisite artistry is evident in each meticulously handcrafted chocolate. Once donned the “Real Life Willy Wonka” by FORBES magazine, this expert chocolatier’s imagination knows no limits. Each season he debuts a new batch of whismsical flavors and designs that would excite the most discerning of chocolate lovers.

This season newest flavors made their first appearance in late June, and I was honored to get the opportunity to taste. Included as a part of his Signature Collection, I got to sample some of his best sellers as well as some new to the scene. As an added bonus, I also received box of his limited edition Galaxy Collections. 

Read More

Shrimp Boil Foil Packets

FullSizeRender.jpg

This year while many of my friends and family members hosted or attended cookouts, my husband and I celebrated our holiday by preparing a meal together. Battling the mid-week blues this July 4th holiday brought us, we decided to continue an annual summertime tradition of curating a surf and turf feast.

In exploring ways to make our dinner a little less labor intensive (as it has been in the past), I came across a  simple recipe for  foil packets made with shrimp, potatoes, hot sausage and corn on the cob. I modified the recipe to add a little "Geo flare," adding some spice and minced garlic to give the packets a more savory punch. Fortunately, they were an instant hit with the hubs and will now be a staple in our household.

We paired these with medium-rare New York strip steak, and snow crabs legs to complete our surf and turf dinner. Check out the recipe below.

Shrimp Boil Foil Packets Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Raw Shrimp, Deveined
  • 2 Ears of Corn (Cut into 4 pieces each)
  • 1 pound Marble Mixed Potatoes
  • 1 Package Hot Italian Sausage (Sliced Thinly
  • 4 teaspoons Minced Garlic
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

For the seasoning (yields 4 tablespoons)

  • 4 Teaspoons Kosher Salt
  • 4 Teaspoons Dried Parsley
  • 2 Teaspoons Crushed Red Pepper
  • 1 Teaspoons Paprika
  • 1 Teaspoons Chili Powder

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 Degrees. While the oven heats, cut four sheets a foil (about 1 foot long) and divide shrimp, corn, mixed marble potatoes, and hot Italian sausage evenly among the four packets
  2. In a small bowl blend together kosher salt, paprika, chili powder, dried parsley and crushed red pepper to make the seasoning. 
  3. Add 1 tablespoon of the seasoning, 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of minced garlic to each packet. 
  4. Fold all sides of each packet, and securely seal. Shake packets to ensure even coating of seasoning and olive oil. Place foil packets in oven and bake for 20-22 minutes* (or until potatoes are cooked through).

Enjoy!

Summer Style with Dapper Black Box™

At Geo's Table we believe in the uplifting and supporting those changing the game in our community. With that, I am excited to announce an exclusive collaboration with the trailblazing, black-owned subscription service, Dapper Black Box.

Each month subscribers receive a carefully curated selection of men's accessories, grooming products and other tokens designed for the style conscious gentleman. The best part, every month the products featured are made with love by black entrepreneurs and businesses.

Over the course of the summer, I will be collaborating with Dapper Black Box™ to present you with some tips and fashion inspiration to keep you "dapper" all summer long.    First up, is the June's Dapper Black Box™, made in honor of a former member of the Texas Legislature, Al Edwards. This month's box included a Blue Gingham Check Neck-Tie and matching Pocket Square by Jay Kirby Ties, Summer Socks by Harrison Blake  and a Chimere Bump Control Cleansing Bar.

Style Inspiration for June

There's a certain finesse needed to pull-off a tie in the summer, but after falling love with in the Blue Gingham Check Neck-Tie and matching Pocket Square by Jay Kirby, I was up for the challenge.  Pulling some more formal summer staples from my closet, and being willing to get a little adventurous with patterns, I was able to pull off not just one but two outfits! These ensembles are perfect for a weekend brunch, day party or a more casual summer wedding.

All photos were taken by my good friend, Stacey. Check out some of her awesome photography on her instagram: @phillystory .

Check out the photos below!

Head over to the Dapper Black Box website today to subscribe, and begin your summer style journey!