SHELDON—Who says Tuesday nights have to be boring anymore?
To liven up one of the most mundane days on the calendar, Crossroads Pavilion event center in Sheldon is hosting dinners with Susanne Bicknese — better known as Chef Susanne — every third Tuesday of the month during the summer.
The first session “Sippers and Dippers” starts at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 18.
Bicknese will be preparing dips and appetizers along with summery cocktails that perfectly pair with the dishes’ flavors. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the Pavilion bar will be open.
“The one we are doing on the 18th is particularly fun,” Bicknese said. “We are going to be doing five dips and we are going to be pairing those with cocktails.”
Reservations are required and tickets cost $35 a person. Seating is limited and food and drink samples will be provided for this intimate affair with one of the Iowa Great Lakes most-decorated culinary figures.
Bringing Bicknese to Sheldon was the brainchild of Iowa Information co-publisher and co-founder Peter W. Wagner, who made the suggestion to Pavilion general manager Tricia Meendering.
“The goal is to have more events where the community can participate because right now, 99 percent of our bookings are private,” Meendering said. “We are just trying to think of opportunities — since it is a city building — on what we can do to invite the community.”
She said after talking with Bicknese, who hosts similar events in the Iowa Great Lakes and in Spencer, she was convinced the chef and her delectable offerings helps with her goal of making the Pavilion more of a community venue.
“Each month, it’ll be something different,” Meendering said. “She shares the menu just prior. Then when you get there, she also shares the recipe and then she walks through how to make whatever is on the menu.”
Meendering did not want to reveal too much about the menu ahead of time, but two offerings guests can expect are Creamy Shrimp Scampi Dip paired with a Singapore Sling, and a Caramel Apple Dip pair with a Toasted Pecan Old Fashioned.
“I’m salivating and I did have lunch,” Meendering said.
All of the ingredients Bicknese uses in her recipes can be purchased at Hy-Vee.
Having events take place during the week rather than the weekend is an intentional move by Meendering.
“It’ll be fun. Just something to offer people,” she said. “Looking for something more to do in Sheldon during the week — because, let’s face it, in this area on the weekends, a lot of people take off to recreational sites whether it’s the lakes or rivers or family outings, but weekdays, you looking for a little something to do, we are hoping every Tuesday night we can offer something here.”
Bicknese will be a big part of that Tuesday night rotation.
She has been in the food business for close to 30 years and received her formal training from the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, which bills itself as “the world’s premier culinary college.”
After she finished there, Bicknese worked for hotels in the Detroit area before returning to Iowa.
While in the Hawkeye State, Bicknese cooked part time and worked other jobs; however, eight years ago she launched her full-time catering business and began doing classes on the side.
Bicknese looks forward to showcasing her abilities to a hopefully receptive crowd at the Pavilion, which she called a beautiful facility. The chef also likes to get feedback from guests to help her craft future menus.
“That’s a really big thing for me,” she said. “I want to know what guests are interested in learning so that helps me when I’m doing my class preparation by giving them what they want.”
Meendering already is looking forward to future events.
“We plan to do one every month with Chef Susanne,” she said.