Nationally recognized cookbook author shares a night with food lovers

by Sarah Melton

Sarah Melton/MIW photo Molly O’Neill, author of “One Big Table” outside Leigh Brinkley’s home in Mount Holly. O’Neill shared an evening with local fresh food lovers as a fundrasier for the Mount Holly Farmer’s Market.

MOUNT HOLLY – Award-winning author Molly O’Neill gave food lovers a sneak peak at her latest book, “One Big Table,” at a Mount Holly Farmer’s Market fundraiser.

About 70 people attended the Saturday, Nov. 13, event at the home of Leigh Brinkley, who heads up the farmer’s market. O’Neill’s book didn’t go on sale until Tuesday, Nov. 13, but guests got a chance to purchase the book early and have O’Neill sign their copies. The event also included a performance by the Reeder Branch String Band and a meal catered by Outdoor Feast Catering and Market Fresh Catering.

O’Neill’s latest book, complete with 600 recipes and 800 photos, has been 10 years in the making. A New York resident, she traveled more than 300,000 miles all over the United States to learn if Americans had stopped cooking at home. But it turned out there was still plenty happening in the kitchens of cooks who were incorporating their family histories, tastes and personal ambitions into meals.

“In general, you find the best home cooks in highly remote areas,” O’Neill said. “That is where home food is changing more slowly and that is where people get together.”

O’Neill was the food columnist for New York Times Magazine and the host of the KCRW’s radio series “Great Food.” Her work has appeared in many national magazines, and she is the author of three cookbooks, including the award-winning “The New York Cookbook.”

O’Neill met Brinkley when she came to have dinner with Dan Huntley, owner of Outdoor Feast, this summer. When Brinkley learned that O’Neill was going to release “One Big Table” in November the two decided to host a fundraiser for the farmer’s market.

“Dan Huntley is very familiar with the market scene and he has full admiration and confidence in the Mount Holly Farmer’s Market and Leigh Brinkley,” O’Neill said. “When it comes down to people, you try to support somebody’s mission and with Leigh, there was no question. It just seemed like the right thing to do.”

O’Neill invited Brinkley to show her some of Mount Holly’s food culture, so the menu was based on foods served at the market. Nearly all the food prepared for the event was produced or grown by the market vendors.

Some vendors also shared recipes for different parts of the menu, which included pumpkin soup, braised cabbage, pork chop with apple/green tomato chutney and lemon glazed sweet potato medallions.

“It is sort of an extension of what Molly has actually experienced with her book,” Brinkley said. “Plus, for her to come here is unique, I think. It’s very cool.”

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