What happens when hundreds of people gather for a one-pot meal at a communal table in a restaurant without walls placed on the High Line?
Why, they eat of course!
On Saturday, October 22, more than 200 people joined us on the High Line at West 14th Street for a culinary adventure: a Social Soup Experiment presented by Friends of the High Line.
Sitting elbow-to-elbow at one long table, guests enjoyed an autumnal meal of bean & farro soup prepared by chef Mona Talbott in the kitchen at The Green Table , using ingredients from New York State farms and served alla Romana with spicy olive oil. To keep the meal simple and affordable, tickets were priced at $5, in part so that guests could take part in the $5 Challenge  by Slow Food USA.
As the title suggests, this event was an experiment. It was our first communal meal on the High Line. What did we hope to accomplish?
“Like the High Line, the table is a place to gather together. We wanted to bring together neighbors and visitors, friends and newcomers, to share a feast and celebrate fall on the High Line," says Melina Shannon-DiPietro, director of High Line Food and Revenue Programs at Friends of the High Line. "A hearty bowl of soup, served family style, with the ingredients sourced from New York farms – this meal was a reminder that the best meals can be affordable, nourishing, and sustainable.”
What's more, the soup was delicious too. Working with interns from the Rome Sustainable Food Project, Chef Mona Talbott used several types of beans from Cayuga Pure Organics farm in Brooktondale, New York to create a hearty dish for the guests. The soup was served alongside rye and Persian flat bread from Hot Bread Kitchen, and Ashmead's Kernel apples from Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook, New York. Guests were given the soup’s recipe, which you can find in Mona’s new book, Zuppe: Soups from the Kitchen of the American Academy in Rome .
We hope this gathering is the first of many food-related events to come. With this in mind, we asked the guests to share their feedback by filling out comment cards. Here are a few of our favorite comments:
- This was so great! I think the simplicity of soup and bread was perfect. Thank you for a wonderful meal and a perfect start to the weekend. Jasmin
- Our first visit to the High Line; our first ever communal feast. We leave full and with a renewed faith in mankind. Anonymous
- What an amazing experiment. Keep doing it! Just all-around GOOD. Can’t think of a better way to bring people together over a bowl of warm soup on an autumn day. Taylor
Thank you to our partners for helping us dream up and execute this event: Eater , Edible Manhattan , Hot Bread Kitchen , The Green Table , Slow Food USA , and the Five Dollar Challenge .
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