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VOL. 132 | NO. 144 | Friday, July 21, 2017

New Dixon Gallery Cafe Owners See Job as Storytelling

By Andy Meek

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Kevin Bush (left) and his wife Kristi now manage Park & Cherry by CFY, the Dixon Gallery & Gardens restaurant, in addition to their catering business, CFY Catering. (Justin Fox Burks)

From the time in college when Kevin and Kristi Bush first started dating, the now husband-and-wife team of chefs who run their own local catering business were in love with the idea of food as an experience to savor – not a commodity to be consumed before simply moving on to the next thing.

When his friends were hitting up bars at night, Kevin Bush recalls, he and his future wife were saving up to enjoy the occasional night out at a four- or five-star restaurant.

That same inclination for refinement and quality still shows up today in CFY Catering, the enterprise through which the Bushes have catered parties, events and private tables for about a decade now.

And it characterizes the culinary aesthetic they bring to Park & Cherry, the restaurant at Dixon Gallery & Gardens the couple now runs and where they’re also the chefs. Its menu offers everything from salads to sandwiches, soups, quiches and desserts.

The restaurant temporarily closed in June to transition to the new management. The grand reopening came July 14 – on Bastille Day, the holiday celebration in France that inspired the Bushes to focus the menu on French flavors that day.

That’s one of the most basic philosophies behind all of the couple’s pursuits: The creation of a menu and the execution that brings all of its myriad dishes to life, Kevin Bush explains, can be thought about as a kind of storytelling.

“You can kind of look into a chef’s soul through their menu and through their food,” he said. “‘Story’ might be an abstract way of saying it, but you’re kind of looking into them. You’ll kind of see into who Kristi and I are through our flavors and style. But we’re also hoping to showcase – by using the fresh herbs and ingredients grown right on the property – a taste of the garden you’ve come to see and enjoy.

“Even locally – if you were to go to, say, Andrew Michael (Italian Kitchen) and eat their food, the reason it’s successful is it’s them. It’s them on a plate.”

Coming on board at the Dixon also brought longtime friends of the institution deeper into the fold, since the Bushes have catered dozens of events at the Dixon.

Chantal Drake, the museum’s director of communications, said in addition to helping with events, the couple is also on the Dixon’s preferred caterers list for people who rent out the venue for weddings and private events.

“We’re so excited they’re going to be a permanent part of the Dixon,” Drake said.

The restaurant’s new name is Park & Cherry by CFY. It’s open six days a week, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Bush said the restaurant’s menu will change seasonally, and they’re going to start growing things like herbs in the on-site garden and linking the restaurant conceptually to new exhibits in the museum from time to time.

The couple started their catering business back when they were newlyweds and shortly before the birth of their first child. To make ends meet, they started doing desserts for local restaurants.

The catering business still exists and hasn’t really changed, with the couple still doing special events, weddings and the like. The opportunity to lead the Dixon’s restaurant now gives them another platform they can use to do a version of what they’ve been pursuing for years now.

“One thing I’ve always found,” Bush said, “is the restaurants I’ve always enjoyed eating at were restaurants where the restaurant was telling the story through their food, through their menu.

“The Dixon is an amazing place for people. It’s a chance to escape your 9-to-5 for a half hour and maybe have some delicious food and take in an exhibit and the gardens before going back to the grind. Sometimes, just a step away from your everyday grind can be very therapeutic and make you more productive in the end.”

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