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Laughing in Detail at Solid Sound at MASS MoCA

Amazing. Pure and simple.

The music and festivities at the Solid Sound Festival this past weekend were enough to bliss out thousands. We could feel the energy through the walls and windows while the catering team prepped for Laughing in Detail I, a local food tasting at 5 pm. I had the privilege of hanging around and taking pictures of all things kitchen. My most favorite room in the house.

Both events about to take place were curated and orchestrated by Nancy Thomas, the woman who began Mezze when it was a small bistro on Water Street in Williamstown more than 17 years ago and now the fearless leader of Mezze Restaurant Group. Nancy worked for many months designing the MASS MoCA events — the look and feel of the rooms, the farms represented, the awesome chef team and the all-local menus. Nancy has been a huge local food advocate for this region and was the ultimate ambassador for the role.

Chef Daire Rooney from Allium and Chef Brian Alberg of The Red Lion Inn, perfect partners in this catering crime, cooked for a few long days and nights preceding the Wilco event at MASS MoCA. Daire and Brian catered two delicious events during the festival on Saturday. One was a really cool, all-local tasting menu at 5 p.m. in Jeff Tweedy’s Loft installation, a re-creation of Wilco’s Chicago music studio.

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Guests who signed up for this event had the pleasure of coming inside to cool off for two hours while dining on fresh strawberries and cream from The Berry Patch and High Lawn Farm. Allium turned up the heat with their delicious Steamed Buns made with East Mountain Farm Pork Belly and Daire’s famous kale salad with greens from The Berry Patch. Chef Brian of The Red Lion Inn cooked up Braised Lila’s Mountain Lamb with Berry Patch Kale and Smoked Farm Girl Farm Tomato Purée served over Risotto.

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Rave reviews all around. After cleanup, the team moved through large cavernous mill spaces with giant windows overlooking Solid Sound to yet another prep area for Laughing in Detail II, a 165-person sold-out dinner scheduled to take place when the clock struck midnight.

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After a short break and some kitchen set up, prep began for the candlelit supper under Xu Bing’s jaw-dropping Phoenix sculpture. While things were heating up in the kitchen, front-of-house staff staged the awesome red-draped ‘single table’ under the installation.

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Hours later, the dinner was ready to, dare I say, rise from the ashes.

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It was quite a highlight for Solid Sound guests to dine under these amazing 12-ton birds suspended mid-air.

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Members of Wilco stopped in to greet the excited guests pre-dinner and joined the table. After a brief introduction from MASS MoCA director Joe Thompson, a well-dressed service team from Mezze Catering + Events carried out the many platters for a family-style meal in a beautifully choreographed procession orchestrated by Nancy Thomas. Guests enjoyed the gorgeous food, sourced from more than 20 local farms and food producers in the Berkshires and Hudson Valley.

What a treat to sit down to this amazing meal after a whole day of great music and well-curated festivities. Given the internally illuminated Phoenix, Wilco and their fantastic vision for Solid Sound, MASS MoCA’s dedicated staff and volunteers, the glorious food from our farmers, the talented chefs, the hard-working catering staff… it was a once-in-a-lifetime event and we’re so glad to have been a part of it. Our team, including one very psyched behind-the-scenes photographer, cannot wait to do it again!

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All photos courtesy of Angela Cardinali