Words that have symbols always flummox people.
Take the humble and important apostrophe, for example: required when showing possession or a missing letter, but people manage to mangle it in infinite ways. Chef Becky, though an outsider chef, has absorbed much French influence from being a chef (naturally), including its language, and has launched Bex Fêtes.
What the Fête is a Fête?!
See that hat on the e? It’s called a circumflex: it tells someone how to say the word. But English does not make much use of the circumflex. A fête is a party, a celebration, often with a lavish or somewhat fancy aesthetic. It also means to honor someone. Let’s look into the fête and see what Bex has cookin’.
We wrote recently about the regional tradition of the block party, and a fête is related. In jolly old England – just across the proverbial pond from France – fêtes inspired a show you might know, the popular Great British Bake Off. There can be some formality to a fête, but it is not supposed to be a stuffy, uptight affair. Err on the side of the fun and the casual. The fête has been the subject of many artworks, including the classic Village Fête, a replica of which is in the Louvre.
Supper Club to Bex Fête
Bex is well-known for Supper Clubs. Chef Becky did them for years with a variety of themes and focuses, including botanical, Valentine’s Day, Father’s Day, and even a Game of Thrones-themed one. These took place usually on Friday evenings. Chef Becky decided to phase out the Supper Clubs but not leave her customers empty-handed, hence the Fête! The fête retains the same sense of intimacy, casualness, and focus as a Supper Club, but opens it up a bit more in line with its tradition as an outdoorsy, community-building event.
Chef Becky on the Fête
The Chef likes certain words for their sound, look, and “personality.” “I just thought it sounded cool,” she explains. “And building community and hosting memorable, in-person events is what Bex is all about. I’m Generation X and have kept up with the changing times, but a virtual experience just isn’t the same as getting people together at the moment in a shared physical space, hence the fête. Think about your strongest memories: they probably include a strong sense of place: its smell, its atmosphere, the sounds and colors, the experience.”
The covid experience really impacted American culture and ripples are still felt today. Returning to face-to-face events and interaction, and eschewing masks and restrictions, has been joyful. “Eateries were hit really, really hard by covid and its aftermath,” Chef Becky recounts. “We adapted, but we’re still dealing with inflation and supply chain issues. I like bringing people together and figuring out all the logistics of doing so, all the behind-the-scenes stuff to pull it off. It’s like a Buddhist mandala about impermanence: you do all this work setting up, cooking, planning, solving problems, then have the event, make memories, and clean up and move on. Live events are transitory and fleeting, but that’s what makes them special. It’s like that old saying that you had to be there. The fête is that, in a nutshell.”
Dog Days of Summer Fête in the Works
Chef Becky is planning a clambake/fête for the end of summer when the laziness and heat exhaustion has set in, the kids are actually itching to go back to school, and people start dreaming of sweater weather and the crispness of fall. “Doing a clambake is fun and relatively easy from a kitchen standpoint,” the Chef iterates. “One-pot cooking is a great way for different ingredients to all mingle and have their flavors marry.” She laughs, saying “It’s also of course fun to dump out a steaming pot of seafood and vegetables onto a table and get messy with the food. It just sort of creates a nice atmosphere that is casual, nourishing, and interesting, like the New England clambake or cajun shrimp boil. Those two cultures, specifically, couldn’t be more different from one another, but they both utilize the same technique, and people are people wherever you go.”
Learn more about the premier Bex Fête here.