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This afternoon my husband and I ventured to the Chef’s Picnic on the Lake, which sounded pretty retro-rad and ended up a bit of a history lesson. As it was our first trip to the Bath House Cultural Center, we had no idea where to go. But the friendly folks at the event guided us to a fenced-off area inside a greater outdoor festival full of lake lovers. We walked through the Red Cross tent, benefitters of the event’s fee, and were presented with a cocktail! Deep Eddy sweet tea vodka with lemonade and mint. Very refreshing, especially considering the weather. Then we walked past the chef’s stations, as they set up their parts of our coming feast. Different colored checkered table cloths and guests dressed “picnic chic,” as per the invitation’s directions, completed the look. We sat at a table, waited and watched. We were presented with an appetizer chocolate chip cupcake (pictured below) and told “Life is short. Eat dessert first.” True.

The event seemed slightly disorganized, but nobody seemed to mind. Suddenly, a line began to form, and I promptly added myself to it. At the front of the line a rectangular plate was filled for me, chef by chef, with picnic-worthy delights. Carrot and cabbage slaw, a fruit salad studded with fresh mint, a spin on broccoli salad, baked beans, tomato and cucumber salad, purple and regular potato salad, and finally the meat. Brisket, sausage and chicken. I asked for chicken and brisket. We proudly walked back through the other tables carrying our lunch, ready to try it all.

My favorites were the fruit salad, potato salad and BBQ meats. The brisket had a bit too much fat and not enough meat, but the chicken was tender and flavorful. I wish I had gotten more of my favorites, but there were plenty of mouths to feed, and then again, I had dessert to eat. We wandered with intention over to the table where folks from the Highland Park Cafeteria were serving sweets. Baklava, lavender short bread cookies, Italian cream cupcakes, caramel corn with bacon, a fruity shortbread dessert and two different types of banana pudding. The puddings were the highlight for me: one was a chocolatey snickerdoodle and the other salted caramel. Salted caramel is so hot right now.

Overall, the food was tasty, the desserts really came through and the atmosphere was sweet. Makes you want to live nearby.

As about-to-be Lakewood area transplants ourselves, we were happy hanging out, talking to the locals. We were interested to know the history of the Bath House, and we ended up dining with the star of the old Bath House slide show, below which was a bath decorated with little beach balls for the occasion. Over all, a lovely lunch for a great cause. Happy summer!

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