The LDEI Conference was terrific!   It was a privilege to attend.   I so enjoyed getting to know  Sandy, an extraordinary example of what a Dame is all about.   It is so fortunate for our AA Chapter to have her example, leadership, and wisdom.  Sandy presented a great summary of the conference so I will just add some of my take aways.

1.  I attended the pre-conference tour of Middleton Plantation.   It was a full day tour with an hour bus ride to the plantation.   One of our Charleston Dames gave us an overview of what it means to be Charlestonian...born and bred and some interesting information on the history of the area.   We were treated to box breakfast of 3 different types of Calli's Biscuits....a company owned by a Dame which were delicious and filling.   The plantation is one of the surviving examples of southern life pre-civil war with lovely gardens and trade people performing tasks much like a mini Greenfield Village.   Natalie Dupree was the Dame who presented our speakers.   David Shields the unsurpassed custodian of southern culinary history and Glen Roberts of Anston Mills.   The re-booting of southern food has been a great interest to me and here to have the leading experts share their knowledge was fantastic.   We were served a special lunch with local products that used Edna Louis's recipes as she had a restaurant on this plantation at one time.  We then were able to walk around with an period interrupter and learn more about life for the enslaved population....very eye opening and the tour ended with a tour of the existing plantation house which was the residence of descendants of the Middleton family until the 1970's when they took their fortune and started a foundation so that all of this would be preserved. 

2.  The Charleston Chapter exemplified true southern hospitality.   They were very friendly, open, and willing to go the "extra" mile to help.   It was impressive to hear how the chapter got together to help the community following the horrible shooting in the historic church this past summer.  In another example one of the Dames made festive head pieces 1920's style for Dames to wear to the Grande Dame awards and chapter photos...thus in our chapter photo you can see her work!

3.  For every event I sat with different Dames.   While all were very friendly the Chicago Chapter as a group was the most welcoming and they were so happy that the AA chapter came together.....of course with their support and help.
4.   It turns out that Charleston is now the #2 destination for destination weddings (Vegas #1)   The Dames put their fundraising event together at such a site.   We were taken via boat along the Ashley River to this southern style home (think Gone with the Wind) to an evening with silent auction and food sampling from local restaurants.   The downside to this event was the fact that there was no seating....Imagine a sellout crowd and no place to sit!   Would be interesting to know how much money their auction brought in as it was difficult to manage a plate, fork, wine glass, and pen to bid on an auction place to place plates. This was a different event as local community was invited as well and there was not a lot of networking possible.

5.  The following night the event was in the park across the street from the hotel.   A large tent was was lowcountry food.   The Lee Brothers (Lee Brothers have written many southern cook books) were shucking and roasting oysters, there was a great blues band and seating!   One of the Dames from the Tennessee Chapter (most probably a professional singer) shared her version of Rocky Top Tennessee and Tennessee Waltz...The Dames started to dance including Carole Brock!   At 91 she is impressive.  Since we had to cross a 4 lane highway to get to the park the Dames had a person stationed in the center of the street all night to stop traffic to led us cross in both directions. all evening...(they thought through the details on this one)

6.I met a woman from the Portland Chapter who is a free lance writer and she is interested in coming to Detroit to write an article....and I offered her my hospitality.   I did connect with many Dames and through networking exchanged contact information.   This was a wonderful take away.

7.  The Gala dinner itself was a culinary nightmare......Sandy and I will share the story of the invisible beurre blanc with you....another time!.