Juicy red alert: Tickets for this year’s Tomato Dinner

Taste a rainbow of tomatoes during chef Tag Grandgeorge’s annual Tomato Dinner event Sept. 6.

Writer: Karla Walsh

Few things compare to the first taste of a spring strawberry, early summer peach or late-summer tomato. They’re all incredible in their unadorned glory, but in the hands of Tag Grandgeorge, they reach new sweet and even savory heights.

Since 2001, the local chef has been the mastermind behind the annual Tomato Dinner that’s developed something of a cult following. He’s transplanted the annual event several times over the years, from the old Art House (where Star Bar is now) to Le Jardin, which he and his wife, Megan, operated in Beaverdale, and then on to Plant Life Designs in Van Meter. After a pause during the pandemic, this year’s dinner is back on, with another chance to dig into Grandgeorge’s favorite garden goodie.

“Since the first tomato dinner, I’ve been focused on showcasing the bounty and versatility of an Iowa-grown ingredient: the humble garden tomato and, more importantly, heirloom tomatoes,” Grandgeorge said. “It’s always a challenge to come up with new and inventive ways to incorporate the tomatoes in every course of the meal.”

It’s a challenge he enjoys. This year’s eight-course, wine-paired dinner on Sept. 6 will take place for the first time at an 1869 Victorian home you may have heard of, Terrace Hill, where Grandgeorge has been working as the executive chef since this spring.

But don’t worry: “The tomato dinner is not a political event,” said Claire Sowder, who coordinates communications and events at the National Historic Landmark that houses the governor. “Proceeds will benefit the Terrace Hill Partnership, the sole nonprofit organization that supports necessary conservation and restoration projects for the Terrace Hill building and grounds.”

The tomato dinner will begin in the drawing room, where guests can enjoy an appetizer and a spritz. Then they’ll move to the dining room to savor summer’s bounty in all eight courses, all of which (even dessert) will feature locally grown tomatoes.

Tickets are available for $200 online or by calling the Terrace Hill office at 515-281-7205 through Sept. 6 — or, more likely, until they sell out.

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