Over the past five years, Commune Supper Cult has hosted dinners dockside on Shem Creek, creekside at Mosquito Beach and garden side at the Medical University of South Carolina's urban farm. This fall, it will transform from hosting one-off events into organizing full-blown retreats that immerse attendees in what organizers Becky Burke and Katie Wells are calling the art of eating food.
Burke says she felt Commune needed to change but didn't know how to do that until she was inspired by a wellness retreat at the Esalen Institute in California that left her feeling refreshed. "There was a food component, but food wasn't the focus," says Burke.
The inaugural Commune weekend scheduled for September isn't a weight loss camp or yoga retreat. Instead, it's a dip into the connection between food and health, eating and wellness. "It's a weekend long event that's immersive and meaningful," says Burke. "They'll be learning things that are practical."
One practical experience of Commune will tap into the knowledge of Ken Immer, a wellness coach and chef who provides workshops and seminars through Culinary Health Solutions. "His seminar will quiz you about what you eat and how you eat and look at your relationship to food," says Burke. He'll also lead an interactive lunch. "I'm not sure what Ken is going to cook yet," says Burke, "but guests will be cooking part of the lunch with him."
Caryn Antos O'Hara, a colon cancer survivor, will lead an Ayurvedic dinner at Basic Kitchen followed by a candlelit talk at the Battery. Burke says there will also be a seafood celebration at Leon's Oyster Shop, a natural wine tasting, lunch from Verde and healthy build-your-own brunch.
"We'll be eating stuff that's good for you but also fun to eat," says Burke. "We don't want to just serve seaweed snacks."
Burke anticipates that the retreat, which costs $995 and is limited to 20 people, will appeal mostly to locals, but she also has a hotel package for those traveling to town for the weekend. In the world of wellness retreats, that price is comparable to a five-day juice cleanse and yoga retreat at the Prama Wellness Institute in Marshall, N.C.
In the future, Burke and Wells hope to turn Commune into a regular series that is more about experiences and less about wellness. "We have an idea for going out to Wadmalaw and crabbing and then preparing a meal from what is caught. The art of drinking could include breweries, wine tastings and making cocktails."