Last summer, we held a beautiful and special dinner at the home of the owners of Huzza, Rad and Kate MacCready. It was such a fun and gorgeous evening together that we decided we needed to do it all over again with another Simple Evening this summer. We began planning at the beginning of the year to create another dinner. The first and most important decision was that it would be held on the beach at their home on Lake Michigan. It is a short walk through the woods from their home down to the shore where you can find a private and intimate space on the shoreline that is perfect for watching sunsets and enjoying morning swims. It was the perfect setting for a simple and low maintenance dinner to celebrate summer and everything we love about being up north.
When the day for the dinner arrived, we all pulled together to make the dinner happen. We repurposed the tables we had used the year before. Rad had custom designed the tables for the dinner and my cousins, Andrew and Trey had made them. We had to haul them from the house down to the beach, which was the largest undertaking of our process of prepping for the evening. Tobin, who works at Huzza with her parents as the women’s buyer, worked with Rad to put together the table settings.
Our crew from last year’s dinner was back together to make this one happen as well, which made it extra fun. This time we also had Devin from Outlive the Bastards to help us out as well. It was the first time Devin and I had met in person after being quite a fan for a while. It was so fun to get to know each other the few days we were all together. If you haven’t heard of her bag company, I highly suggest you check it out and follow her on Instagram as well. She is quite a talented lady.
After a morning of prep in the sun and the chill of the lake, we all cleaned up at about the same time that Stockyard Detroit showed up to begin food prep. They drove from Detroit that morning and along the way picked up food for the dinner at local markets and farm stands. The goal was to create a beach style dinner that was elegant but most importantly that it gathered the flavors of August in Northern Michigan. When we went to plan this dinner, Tobin and I had been drooling over the work and dinners that Stockyard puts together. Their presentation is gorgeous, and Marc has a way of pulling together classic comfort American food with worldly flavors with the freshest ingredients. We knew it was the perfect fit for our evening. You probably had heard us talk about Stockyard before as we met them on Mille Mitten last year. This year they joined rally again. We knew we needed to make a collaboration happen between all of us, and this seemed like the perfect time.
As Marc and his team setup for the evening and cooked away in the kitchen at the house, we began finishing setting the tables down at the beach. What I love about these dinners is what a team effort it is for everyone. We all pull together. A few spend some time planning before hand, but day-of I love watching as things come together amongst so many hands. It is so fun to watch the tables be placed, the glassware set, the flowers trimmed and prepped, the napkins folded, and the candles perfectly prepared to be lit later in the evening. It is always magical each time.
The weather the day of the dinner wasn’t what I would call warm. It was a cloudy day with cold breezes from the northwest that came across the lake. It was the kind of evening you expect to experience in late September, not in early August, but the distilled light and the cool weather made prep not so sweaty. By dinner, it was a cozy and comfortable setting for pants and a good sweater. For a Northern Michigander, this was an ordinary night on the water even in the summer months.
Tobin beautifully curated the table settings from their stock at Huzza. Each item on the table is available in their store online or in downtown Harbor Springs. What we loved was the new take on the classic black and gold look that has been so hip lately. Using other sorts of ways to bring together black and gold on one table while still feeling understated, classic, and organic was so brilliant. It never fails to inspire me to watch and see Tobin and the rest of the Huzza team and family pull together moments such as this one.
One of my favorite parts of the decor for the dinner were the napkins. Huzza carries these gorgeous napkins from Huddleson Linens. They were inspired by the Seagram Building in NYC. Each one has a slight difference to the dyes and colors, and the indigo was the perfect accent to pull together the scenery of the water with the table setting.
For all the flowers, we used Cosmos and collected greenery from the beach that were gathered by Rad and Devin the day before. We stuck to only whites and greens for florals. Simplicity is key on a table I have always believed. To add a little different color, we decided to fill the ice troughs with only Rosé as to keep a consistent look on the table. The soft pink was the final touch to a perfect table setting for the evening.
As we finished up the setting of the table, other guests began arriving and beginning cocktail hour out on the beach. We had ice buckets filled with everything from La Croix to Anéjo Tequila. We knew this group enjoyed a good drink or four, so we made sure we were well stocked and prepared.
As cocktail hour began, Stockyard brought in appetizers. They had made shishito peppers with an aioli of garlic and farm fresh eggs along with whitefish paté crostinis topped with capers and pickled red onions. Combining the grilled peppers and the whitefish paté (a Northern Michigan classic) made for the perfect way to start the evening.
All the trays and serve ware came from either the Huzza online store or Rad and Kate’s collection in their home.
As the sun began to lower we started to prep for cocktail hour to end and dinner to begin. Tobin made sure a few bottles of wine were open at the table to help make for a natural shift to dinner for guests.
As Stockyard brought out the dishes and placed them at the table, guests gathered around to find their seats. Just as we all sat for dinner, the sun shined through all the clouds and lit up the dinner with the most golden light.
We all began passing the dishes of summer salad and lamb kebobs with couscous covered in pickled items and homemade sauces of rosewater yogurt and charred tomatillo relish. The dishes were large and beautiful and the perfect style for a family style meal. The best part was seeing Stockyard’s plating done in Huzza’s curated servers and how they came together. They were such a beautiful compliment to one another.
Once everyone had plated their food, Kate offered up a beautiful toast to everyone at the table as well as to Mike and I and our little one. It was so special and sweet and a wonderful way to begin such a beautiful meal.
As the evening trailed on, and we watched the sun set and the clouds roll in across the water, we started to light the candles together as a table, but it didn’t hinder great conversation. You could hear the chatter of good memories and many summer days spent on the lake. There was the discussion of new relationships and even of ones that had changed or ended.
Once the sun was set, and many of the Rosé bottles had emptied, we began clearing the tables and a fire was stoked on the beach. As the fire grew larger, we gathered all the tableware and took it up to the house hoping to make our work easier the next day.
The night ended with fireworks over the water and many big smiles and laughter around the fire. That night there was supposed to be a meteor shower, so some stayed the night on the beach to watch it over Lake Michigan.
It was one beautiful Simple Evening. The kind that took us all to pull together, but was worth it as it ended in the dark by the fire in a perfect way.
We love our collaborators on these dinners. So please check out those who collaborated with us. Find them at the following links: