GLENS FALLS — Lisa Balschunat fondly remembers her grandmother’s favorite saying.
“'Food is life,’ according to my grandmother. ‘Food is life.’”
About 100 people gathered Sunday afternoon for Grandma’s Table, a family-style “farm to table” dinner in an elegant setting at The Queensbury Hotel in Glens Falls.
Organizers sold 94 tickets, at $30 each, a good number for a first-year event, Balschunat said.
The dinner started outside the hotel on Maple Street, which was closed to traffic for the afternoon, and was moved inside the hotel shortly after the opening toast because of rain.
“We toast Grandma today, and the good food we have in the Glens Falls region,” Balschunat said.
Then she instructed diners to pick up their plates and silverware and go inside the hotel, where the staff had a banquet room ready, in case of rain.
“We’re moving everything inside — except for the rain,” instructed Amy Collins, the city’s director of tourism and business.
The feast featured platter after platter of food passed around the tables, as diners oohed and aahed over the tasty appetizers, entrees and dessert.
Food was donated by Glens Falls Farmers Market vendors, Glens Falls Food Co-Op suppliers and The Queensbury Hotel.
Queensbury Hotel chefs prepared the food, at no charge.
The event was scheduled in August, when farmers typically have an abundance of produce.
Georgianna Bull of Glens Falls donated flower arrangements from her perennial garden, and cellist John Anthime Miller donated his musical talent.
Celebrity waiters included city Councilman-at-Large Dan Hall and 5th Ward Councilman James Clark.
Hall said he washed dishes and waited tables at restaurants off and on for about 20 years in the 1970s and ‘80s.
“I met my wife waiting tables — Red Coach Grill,” he said.
Hall said his wife was a wine steward at the former restaurant on Route 9 in Queensbury, which is now Johnny Rockets at Six Flags Great Escape Lodge.
The event raised about $1,000 each for three organizations: Glens Falls Farmer’s Market, Glens Falls Food Co-Op and Glens Falls Collaborative.
“It’s not the main intent of the event to be a fundraiser,” Balschunat said.
The primary goal was to raise awareness about locally grown food and to honor family heritage.
Many diners brought along photographs of their grandmothers to set by their places at tables.
Balschunat said her own grandmother, Maria Sannicola, was an immigrant from Trentino, Italy, and settled with Balschunat’s grandfather in Niagara Falls.
She taught Balschunat, the youngest of 13 grandchildren, how to make homemade pasta and which fresh herbs to pick from the garden for ingredients in dishes.
“She lived in a simple little flat,” Balschunat said. “Everyone was always welcome at my grandmother’s table.”