Scratchboard Kitchen hosts new dinner series Women in Culinary Driving Change
Pop-up events were always part of the business plan for Scratchboard Kitchen in Arlington Heights, but when the restaurant opened in April of 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic put those plans on hold.
"When COVID happened, we had to pivot our business model a little bit and had to go into the whole to-go model and we weren't able to do those things we set out to do right away," said Scratchboard Kitchen executive chef and Hinsdale native Grace Goudie. "There came a time this winter where we looked at our business model and said 'What can we do right now to help the community and how can we do it in a fun and enticing way?'"
Last month, the restaurant kicked off a new monthly dinner series called A Recipe for Empowerment: Women in Culinary Driving Change. The next event in the series will be Saturday, April 24, and spotlight Elmhurst's Brewpoint Coffee, which is opening a new location in Oak Park on Tuesday, April 27.
"We've been one of Scratchboard's coffee providers for a little bit now and we've worked really well with them," said Brewpoint CEO and founder Melissa Villanueva. "We have a lot of similar values in terms of being women entrepreneurs who are trying to get cool things done in the food and beverage world."
Scratchboard Kitchen is owned by Arlington Heights resident Danielle Kuhn, and she and Goudie wanted to empower other women in the hospitality industry.
"Throughout my whole career, I've had a lot of challenges I've had to face because of the fact that I'm female," Goudie said. "It took me a little bit longer to prove myself in a kitchen where I was the only female. I thought pairing up with other females who have gone through similar experiences or just supporting those businesses (would make) a positive change in the community."
For the $75 dinner, guests will enjoy a five-course tasting menu with wine pairings available for an additional $35. Goudie will be incorporating products from Brewpoint in every course such as a coffee vinegar with asparagus and tea with kampachi crudo. For the fourth course, she'll be preparing bites to pair with a tasting of three Brewpoint coffees.
"A lot of people don't realize how complex coffee really is," Villanueva said. "It's similar to wine in that way where different coffees have different flavor profiles, different flavor notes. When you have coffee and eat different foods with it, it pulls out different tastes from the coffee."
The first A Recipe for Empowerment dinner was March 27 with a menu from Goudie and wine pairings chosen by Lindsey Anderson-Perez, sommelier and owner of Chicago's Uvae Kitchen & Wine Bar.
"We had a great turnout," Goudie said. "People really loved the menu and the wine pairings. A tasting menu is a little bit different for the suburbs, so I think people had a lot of fun with it. They didn't have to travel all the way to the city to get this fine dining experience."
While Scratchboard Kitchen is normally only open for breakfast and lunch, these pop-up dinners let Goudie use the dinner-focused fine dining background she got from training in California under The French Laundry chef Thomas Keller. She enjoys combining the Central European food she grew up eating with California cuisine, which focuses on fresh produce and Asian-inspired ingredients.
"This is a way for me as a chef to really let my creativity out," she said.
Along with collaborating on the menu, the guests for each dinner also choose a charity that will receive a portion of the proceeds from the event. March's event benefitted The Night Ministry while April's will help the Farmers Project.
"(Thomas Keller) really ingrained in me that it is important to serve your community, whether we're in troubled times or not," Goudie said. "You're there to make people happy. I thought it only made sense with this pop-up series to put the charitable component to it. Obviously, there are so many people in need right now and everyone holds a different charity near and dear to their heart."
"It's something we'll definitely continue as a once-a-month thing," Goudie said, "and if people really are into them, we'll look at doing it a little bit more often."
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A Recipe for Empowerment: Women in Culinary Driving Change
Where: Scratchboard Kitchen, 5 W. Campbell St., Arlington Heights, (847) 749-3103, scratchboardkitchenah.com/
When: The next dinner is Saturday, April 24. Seatings are from 5 to 9 p.m.
Cost: $75 for a five-course tasting menu; wine pairings cost an additional $35. Go to exploretock.com/scratchboardkitchen/ for tickets.