With Quantum Theatre, your experience is never the same twice. That goes double with John Shepard’s production of Tamara: not only can you follow a different character each time you see the show, you will also find a new menu—and a new wine—available each week of the run. With Tamara, Quantum not only dives into new territory with an immersive theatre experience, but also into providing both the dinner and the show: your whole night out, brought to you by Quantum Theatre and the amazing chefs of six great local restaurants.
When the idea to cater Tamara began to emerge, Quantum Artistic Director Karla Boos consulted Kate Romane, owner of e2 in Highland Park, and Dave DeSimone, whose Open Bottle Bistro on Ellsworth Avenue recently received a great review in The City Paper. Romane has been catering Quantum’s “Q Ball” for the last few years; DeSimone previously served as chair of the Quantum Board of Directors. The two chefs helped the Quantum staff to work out the logistics of the mid-show dinner and to recruit four more local food-artists to fill out the roster. “We worked out some structure,” Romane says, “They did the leg work!”
Romane and e2 catered the first week of the show, premiering August 5. Monique Ruvolo and Nicole Payne of Above & Beyond Catering will take over the second week. DeSimone’s Open Bottle will provide the Week 3 menu, Bob Sendall of All In Good Taste Productions will roll in a beef-and-lamb or quinoa roulade for Week 4, and Bill Fuller of Casbah brings braised chicken and polenta to Week 5. The final week of the run will have a stellar menu by Stephen Felder and Cara Delsignore’s South Side-based Stagioni.
“Having all these chefs, everyone is going to bring something different to the table,” says Romane. “But everything will be family-style, and everyone, I think, will be sticking to the theme [of Northern Italian cuisine].”
DeSimone is bucking the theme a little. “We’re going to be having Northern Spanish cuisine,” he explains, “but it’s something that you would find all over Europe.” Open Bottle Bistro’s entrée will consist of a hearty chicken Basquez, a stew with vegetables and red sauce, paired with a nero d’avola from Sicily called “Notorius”—“which,” adds DeSimone, “is a fun name for a wine.”
Romane, whose Big Table dinner series serves family-style meals like those you’ll find at Tamara, says she’s been inspired by Quantum to take food into new spaces. “One of the things that inspires me on the daily is my relationship to the community,” she says: from farmers in the Pittsburgh region to the merchants in the Strip District to the neighborhoods she cooks in and the people she feeds. “It’s inspiring to see what Quantum is able to do with found spaces—that’s what I want to do be doing with these dinners.”
On the topic of Tamara’s family-style dinners, Romane adds: “With the nature of the show, how everyone splits off, then bringing them back together at the table, [audiences] can share their experiences. It’s not so much an intermission as a continuation of the play.”
DeSimone agrees: “Any time people have a meal like this, and with a glass of wine, it breaks down some of the reserve…Who knows what kind of conversation will unfold.”
Be part of the conversation—and experience fantastic family-style food—at Quantum Theatre’s production of Tamara, directed by John Shepard, runs through September 14. Purchase TICKETS online or call 412-362-1713.