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A Novel Centerpiece

This summer I planned a special thematic dinner that celebrated author Daniel Wallace who wrote Big Fish. The timing of the dinner coincided with the recent reprint of Wallace’s fist novel: Big Fish published by Algonquin Books. This award-winning novel was adapted for an Academy Award nominated film in 2004 by Tim Burton and John August. The film contained an all-star cast including Ewan McGregor, Albert Finney, Billy Crudup and Jessica Lange. A further musical adaptation of Big Fish is in development and is expected to open on Broadway in the spring of 2013.

The evening started with champagne and continued with a four-course gourmet dinner planned and executive by Executive Chef Jason Cunningham at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club in Durham, N.C. The highlight of my evening was having dinner with Daniel Wallace and his wife Laura and, of course, dinner itself but one of the most creative aspects of the evening was the centerpiece. 

I prepared creative fish bowls with Chef Jason Cunningham’s inspiration for the Big Fish author dinner. The insides of glass fish bowls were filled with about 1 to 1 ½ inches of raw sugar to look like sand and then accented with chocolate seashell candies, gummy fishes (“jellyfish” as chef jokingly called them), gold white truffle balls, and chocolate twist candies (I used some whole and then also broke some in half) to look like seaweed floating in the bowl. The entire fish bowl contents were edible. We used two balsa wood sticks that had a hole drilled in one end where fishing line was strung through to hold a paper fish that had a memorable quote from the movie printed on it resembled little fishing rods. 

This would be great for any coastal dinner or event. Since we always spend Thanksgiving on the coast I thought I give each guest a blank paper fish so they could write what they’re thankful for this year.

Close up of the fish bowl filled with candies and raw sugar was used to look like sand.

Close-up of the fish bowl filled with candies and raw sugar was used to look like sand. Photo courtesy of Scott Faber Photography.

Fish bowl filled with candies shot from above. Photo courtesy of Scott Faber Photography.

Fish bowl filled with candies shot from above. Photo courtesy of Scott Faber Photography.

A close up of the paper fish that had a memorable quote from the Big Fish movie by Tim Burton and John Auguest. Photo courtesy of Scott Faber Photography.

A close-up of the paper fish that had a memorable quote from the Big Fish movie was attached to a balsa wood stick to look like a fishing pole. Photo couresty of Scott Faber Photography.

  

Daniel and Laura Wallace at Big Fish dinner at the Washington Duke Inn

Daniel and Laura Wallace at Big Fish dinner at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club. Photo courtesy of Scott Faber Photography.

Wendy Shannon and Laura Wallace at champagne reception before the Big Fish dinner began. Photo courtesy of Scott Faber Photography.

Wendy Shannon and Laura Wallace at champagne reception before the Big Fish dinner began. Photo courtesy of Scott Faber Photography.

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With a Southern Twist is all about good living in today's South. A true Southerner, the author's passions include food, home design, travel, restaurants, shopping, and entertaining. It is a fun blog about one of her most beloved regions of the country, shared through personal experiences.