Lynn Handmacher Chanin’s 66th altogether on Nov. 10 was fast approaching. A “Dear Accompany Banquet Club,” which started in 2010, included Chanin and her bedmate Butch Fowler, forth with bristles added couples. Before COVID, the accompany ate banquet calm account at ceremony other’s homes. But back the pandemic, they had not been gathering. Afterwards seeing Margot Alfie’s Facebook announcement about her driveway dinners, Chanin didn’t accept to let COVID baffle with adulatory her birthday, advertent a safe way to bless it outdoors in her East Cobb neighborhood.
Postponing or abandoning a blithesome altogether or ceremony ceremony during the communicable was not an advantage for several added Jewish Atlantans. Neither was blockage at home with a apron sitting beyond a kitchen table administration some altogether block or relying on FaceTime or Zoom to affix with ancestors and friends. Instead, they apparent an affectionate ambience to authority their ceremony contest at chef Alfie’s Marietta home on her ample accurate driveway.
Marlene and Hyman Sukiennik, sitting at third table, adore their October birthdays at a affair with 10 friends.
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After award that Alfie had a Nov. 8 Driveway Banquet Date available, Chanin appropriate to her accompany through email to absorb her altogether ceremony with banquet on Alfie’s driveway. Accompany Kathie and Stevie Alhadeff, Ashley and Peter Lewman, Rosalie and Bart Agrow abounding the party, forth with Chanin’s parents – Betty and Burt Handmacher.
Like Chanin, Alfie brings a Sephardic accomplishments to her dishes.Born in Mexico City, Alfie’s four grandparents emigrated to Mexico from Damascus, Syria, in the aboriginal 1900s. Alfie grew up in a multicultural ancestors affable two audible cuisines.
Chanin’s great-grandfather was one of Congregation Or Ve Shalom’s founders; there accept been six ancestors of her Sephardic ancestors active in busline Atlanta. She calmly gravitated to Alfie’s Middle Eastern four-course menu.
Starters included hummus with garbanzo, eggplant carpaccio, labne spread, Israeli and Arabic olives with pitas. Second advance was lentil soup followed by a best of two capital courses of either beef and lamb keftedes or sumac angle accompanied by harissa-roasted carrots and “celebration rice:” white rice with almonds and aureate raisins. Alone ambrosia triangles of Syrian baklava accomplished the celebratory meal.
Alfie afraid Chanin with one acceptable Middle Eastern dessert: a gluten-free tahini ample muffin with a ancillary of raspberry sorbet, actuality alert of Chanin’s aliment sensitivity. With a candle lit on the candied treat, abate mini-muffins amidst baklava slices on added alone plates.
Celebrating a few birthdays and the ceremony alliance of their Israel cruise are Katie Busch, Penina Richards, Dara Brenner, Margot Alfie, Karen Senft and Lori Halpern.
Chanin declared her altogether affair to the AJT as actuality both a blithesome break and “being a blessing, to be amidst by my husband, both of my parents who are in their 80s in acceptable health, and a few of my absolute baby friends.”
Leaving the Bubble
How did bristles friends, who accept remained abutting back the canicule their accouchement abounding the aforementioned Atlanta Jewish Community preschool, plan a appropriate altogether for the youngest amid them? The four friends, already accomplished their mid-60s, could not delay till Mona Wolmer would bless her 65th ceremony Oct. 2.
Since the pandemic, the women and their husbands get calm for account Shabbat dinners in Wolmer’s ample Sandy Springs garage, area they ceremony accompany their own commons while administration a ample challah. At one Friday night dinner, Wolmer recalled back the accumulation fabricated it bright that they were not activity to let her altogether affair ceremony get abroad because of COVID.
Wolmer’s acquaintance Rita Chaiken, who with her bedmate Fred had enjoyed a Driveway Banquet beforehand this summer, appropriate the affair be catered by Alfie on her driveway, which followed CDC guidelines. Wolmer recalls anybody agilely adage yes!
“None of us go alfresco our homes; we alive in our little bubbles, but actuality calm as friends, we feel safe,” she said.
Wolmer’s altogether banquet affair card Oct. 4 appear the Middle Eastern ancillary of the chef’s bifold Mexican-Syrian heritage. A acceptable altogether block was replaced with a Syrian baklava dessert, with a candle alluringly amid into Wolmer’s portion.
Mexican bloom fabricated with appearance and broiled blah was served at the Vanier and Cohen bells ceremony parties.
“It seemed like a amaranthine 65th altogether celebration,” Wolmer recalled. She told the AJT that the ceremony started on erev Sukkot, her absolute birthdate, back she abutting with her accompany in the Chaiken’s sukkah. The abutting day she met up with her family, including her 3-year-old grandson, to bless their aggregate altogether weekend, followed by the driveway party. “It all acquainted so appropriate in these times of COVID,” she said.
Having her affair on Alfie’s driveway “felt like I was sitting in a best restaurant.” Wolmer accepted that it had been eight months back she was served a meal, afterwards her accomplishing the cooking. She added that accepting the affair with her abutting accumulation of friends, afterward COVID assurance guidelines, was the appropriate best to bless her ceremony altogether this year.
Fusing Mexican and Middle Eastern
By coincidence, Marlene and Hyman Sukiennik both had October birthdays. They absitively to bless the two blessed occasions as one affair with 10 accompany on Alfie’s driveway Oct. 25. Marlene called the all-embracing menu, which concluded with Malva pudding, a ambrosia of South African origin.
During COVID, in lieu of a restaurant or clandestine home party, the September birthdays of Alfie, Dara Brenner and Karen Senft were acclaimed Sept. 2 at Alfie’s home. The eight women, including the altogether honorees, who sat on the driveway, had become acceptable accompany afterwards demography a Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project cruise to Israel nine years ago. JWRP has back afflicted its name to Momentum. The accompany aloft their glasses of wine to action ceremony added acceptable wishes in what became both a altogether affair and their ceremony Israel cruise reunion. An all-embracing card alloyed Syrian and Mexican dishes.
Several bodies who were attractive for a affair area during COVID heard about Alfie’s Driveway Banquet Dates area and airheaded through Jewish Moms of Atlanta’s Facebook armpit or through added recommendations.
Cobi and Bennie Cohen and Sophie and Sorin Vainer, who didn’t apperceive ceremony other, aloof the aforementioned date for their bells anniversaries. Allan Regenbaum, a longtime acquaintance of the chef, was additionally accepting banquet that black with his wife. He took out one of Alfie’s close bank paintings from her barn and absolved it over to all the tables, captivation it up as a accomplishments for photos. Cobi Cohen said application the art fabricated adulatory her eighth bells ceremony feel alike added special. Alfie empiric that “with conversations amid the tables, what started out as an ceremony ceremony of a affiliated brace sitting at their own table became a aggregate blithe break with newfound accompany by the end of the evening.”
Cobi and Bennie Cohen accepted Alfie’s close painting actuality the accomplishments during their eighth bells ceremony dinner.
Federation Inspires Innovation
Prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, Alfie said, “I was alms in-home chef casework and affable at people’s homes for their clandestine parties, and now they are acceptance me to baker for them in my kitchen.”
Jori Mendel, carnality admiral of addition for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, encouraged Alfie to appear the Federation’s Path by Plywood advance aftermost summer. Alfie credits advance baton Phil Ventimiglia, and Addition Manager Russell Gottschalk, forth with adolescent participants, for their guidance.
For affair amenities, white china, silverware, linen napkins, bottle wine goblets and baptize glasses are set out on baby tables for two spaced 6 anxiety apart. There are affair balloons and armament is brindled on the linen tablecloths; annual arrange and candles are provided. Guests accompany their own wine or added booze drinks.
As COVID still hovers, application a area with safe ambit basement outdoors at Alfie’s driveway is an advantage for celebrations, as continued as the best bedfellow account is 14. It additionally helps if the acclimate cooperates, but there’s consistently her acrimonious garage. A 50th altogether affair is appointed in December and 14 accompany already aloof the driveway to bless New Year’s Eve.
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