By Jennifer Woods
"We won't be swimming tonight," joked Colleen Frisbie, co-host of Sunday night's Backyard Jamboree dinner in Arcadia. She explained that this home has had a history of blow-out parties with guests including the band Korn and porn actress Jenna Jameson.
Frisbie and chef Sacha Levine have turned up the volume on their own private parties and invited the rest of Phoenix to join the fun. Their positive energy has attracted game-for-anything guests to attend and even offer their own back yards to create the moving venues of these pop-up dinners.
Upon arrival at Backyard Jamboree dinners, guests are handed a signature drink or "schtick" as they call them. Levine crafts popsicles that are designed to be dunked into a cocktail to not only keep the drink cool, but flavor it as the popsicle melts into the glass. Frisbie greeted all the guests on Sunday with their fair trade skinny chai venti pops with almond milk and spiced rum.
Levine wants to create the experience of going out to eat, sitting with strangers at the community dining table who become the kind of new friends who might invite you over to their home to extend the party. "I've always been a party person," Levine tells us. "I like cooking and I like people, a lot."
Backyard Jamboree bring all the tunes (the just acquired a huge stack of records from The Record Room in Scottsdale), cookware, tabletop items and even their upcycled furniture and fire pits to the events.
Guests poured each other's cocktails from the bar and piled their plates high with dip and salads at the "epic hummus bar" that would have made Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi proud. And as they were ready, we received nacho-style paper trays of just-cooked falafel, a thin slice of pickled rutabaga and fried cauliflower with green harissa sauce.
For the cheeky "Nobody is Vegan Anymore" course, we cradled bowls of hot lamb curry in our laps and sipped spiked rose-water and honey lemonade as we watched others dig in sitting cross-legged by the fire.
While the menu and execution are fit for the fine restaurants where Frisbie and Levine work for their day jobs, it's clear that the focus is on the people and not just the food. Initially conceived as "pop-up dinners" while sitting around a table with friends at Pane Bianco, Levine explained that "these [events] have turned more into pop-up parties versus pop-up dinners."
For a lucky few, there are a few seats left for the last two nights of this six-part series: My Kosher Christmas on December 22nd and the Hillbilly Hamptons seafood boil on January 5, 2014.
Make your reservations with Colleen Frisbie at 480-246-1708 or email [email protected] Suggested cash donation for all events is $40 a person. For more information on future events in discussion stay tuned to the Backyard Jamboree Facebook page.