Forest-Themed Food for Henry Stern

March 5, 2002, 12:00 AM EST

Henry Stern's farewell celebration National Museum of the American Indian - Smithsonian Institution Wednesday, 02.27.02, 6 PM onward
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Former Parks & Recreation Commissioner Henry Stern--always a colorful character--wanted his good-bye party held at the National Museum of the American Indian. And he wanted his friend, caterer Mark Fahrer, to cater the event.

So, in keeping with the theme of the venue (and the government agency paying for the event), Fahrer created a nature-inspired buffet table made for foraging. About 1,000 guests had to work for their dinner and found themselves picking mushrooms and other edibles out of the grass just as the Native Americans honored in the museum might have done a few hundred years ago. Fahrer used a layer of wheatgrass as his base on the table, then stuck mushroom caps on wooden skewers and placed them in clumps in the grass, along with quail, frog legs, mussels, clams, dandelion greens and sprigs of fresh herbs.

The cornucopia took eight of Fahrer's employees about two hours to assemble. And it took about 20 minutes for it to be devoured by the event's hungry hunters and gatherers.

Luckily, there was dessert: Students from the New York Restaurant School baked a four-foot-wide apple pie, which weighed more than 500 pounds and required 1,600 apples.

--Erika Rasmusson

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