Craig Adcock’s Table Ocho is a party of eight

A sign in Adcock's kitchen encourages guests to eat local.

A sign in Adcock’s kitchen encourages guests to eat local.

Table Ocho sprang out of an idea and necessity.

When the second quarter of the year rolled around, Teresa Adcock used to remind her husband Craig that it was time to pick up some part-time work. During most of the year, he juggled duties between Belly Up BBQ, where he catered private events in California wine country and Kansas City, and Jude’s Rum Cakes. His thriving rum cake business sold and shipped 27,000 of his premium rum-soaked confections nationwide in 2014 through the holidays. Historically, second quarter orders and income tapered off.

Two years ago, Adcock proposed an alternative to Teresa, who works for Google. What if they converted part of their leased production kitchen in Old Town Lenexa into a private event space? He would post a casual dining menu online with suggested wine pairings from the house list. They’d only offer eight seats around a pair of tables. One seating each night. No more, no less. If each event didn’t sell out, he cancelled the two-and-a-half hour dinner experience. The idea was based on simple hospitality.

Adcock says, “It’s the way Teresa and I entertain at home.”

Table Ocho was born out of these basic rules. The idea caught on and the Adcocks have sold 200 Table Ocho dinner events since inception.

Adcock’s dinner themes vary from lamb to Spain to seafood, or whatever strikes his fancy. His first dinners included oysters grilled on the half-shell and barrel stave salmon, and carne asada paired with shrimp, pico de gallo, chips and Rancho Gordo beans.

“Sometimes dishes are plated, passed on platters or served family-style,” says Adcock.

The style of food and how it is served depends on the food itself and his inclination. Adcock tends to improvise and typically doesn’t finalize the menu until the day of the dinner. For example, he recently co-hosted a dinner with chef Debbie Gold.

“I sent Debbie a text about the menu. Within five texts between us, we worked it out,” says Adcock. “Everyone has their own cooking style. We do what we do well.”

The ingredients often dictate the direction of a dinner. “My rule is that I start with the best quality ingredients from local farmers. I like to support local farms and wineries that I work with,” Adcock says.

Adcock strains chicken stock in the Table Ocho kitchen.

Adcock strains chicken stock in the Table Ocho kitchen.

He regularly works with Crum’s Heirlooms and James Worley and procures meat from Joe Bichelmeyer and Kenny Barham of Barham’s Family Farm. He’s fond of grits from Delta Grind in northern Mississippi and polenta from Crum’s. Wines are often sourced from Santa Barbara, where Adcock caters events at California wineries.

On a recent afternoon, bluesy rock and straight blues music streams from the kitchen as if it were an extension of Adcock’s southern Mississippi roots. His laidback demeanor is both a product of the South and personal style. He believes in building community through reciprocal acts, taking care of others and cherishing fun more than stress and money. Table Ocho dinners are an expression of that lifestyle.

“It’s who is at the table,” says Adock, “not what is on the table.”

Adcock paces each casual dinner based on the time it takes to prepare and serve each course. There’s plenty of wine, food, music and conversation to bookend the night. Adcock’s charm and presence is a key ingredient that personalizes each event. While Craig handles duties in the kitchen, Teresa oversees front of the house duties as host.

Sometimes, Table Ocho is offered as a winemaker dinner. A visiting winemaker meets with guests and shares select wines not widely available on the market. Adcock says, “It’s intimate, a small dinner where you can interact with the person that makes the wine.”

As Adcock sips from a glass of wine, he shares the story of how Table Ocho got its name.

“Teresa and I were at a wedding in Peru with a group of 19 people. Most of the Americans were seated at Table 11,” he says. “The party lasted from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. We drank copious amounts of wine and pisco sours. At one point, Teresa shouts, ‘Table Ocho!’ Like we’re the fun ones at the wedding, right? Except she meant ‘once” or eleven in Spanish, not ‘ocho.’”

Table Ocho endured as a potential name for the restaurant Adcock vowed to never open. Years later, Table Ocho sprang to life as the perfect moniker for dinners that revolve around good food, wine and company.

Upcoming dinner themes on the schedule include Spain (May 15), Unique Wines and Tapas pairing (May 22), Italy (May 29) and Seafood (June 3). Visit the website for full schedule, terms and details. Dinner events only take place if all eight seats are sold in advance.

petedulin

Pete Dulin is a Kansas City-based writer and author of Last Bite: 100 Simple Recipes from Kansas City's Best Chefs and Cooks. http://lastbitecookbook.com/

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