The Friends of the Johnson Nature Center are holding their Forest to Table event for the second year.  This year’s strolling dinner menu will be created by  wo collaborating local culinarians.

The Friends of the Johnson Nature Center are holding their Forest to Table event for the second year. This year’s strolling dinner menu will be created by wo collaborating local culinarians.

Photo provided by Shelby Dubin

Friends of the Johnson Nature Center hold second annual Forest to Table event

By: Mary Genson | Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle | Published August 22, 2023


BIRMINGHAM — Last year, the Friends of the Johnson Nature Center Introduced their inaugural Forest to Table event, which incorporated native and invasive species in a strolling dinner.

Event organizers are looking forward to hosting another successful event this year on Sept. 9 at the Johnson Nature Center, 3325 Franklin Road in Bloomfield Township.

The event will take place 5:30-8:30 p.m., with a VIP reception at 4:30 p.m.

Sylvan Table executive chef Chris Gadulka created the menu for last year’s event. This year, he is joined by Alchemi owner and executive chef Johnny Prepolec.

“Putting something out there that would be viewed by our guests as informative, valuable and fun were the big priorities, and I think it was successful on all fronts,” Gadulka said.

Gadulka and Prepolec are still developing this year’s six-course menu. Once the two chefs compare ideas, they will make sure there is no significant overlap within the courses. Representatives from the Friends of the Johnson Nature Center will then have the opportunity to taste each course to make sure it meets their expectations. There is always the possibility that tweaks will be made once the event nears, since the menu is dependent on what invasive species are in season.

“We are going to try to make it (the menu) a little more approachable,” Gadulka said. “Last year I was a little adventurous with some items.”

Last year Asian carp and wild boar were featured on the menu.

“We are not going to go quite that extreme,” Gadulka said. “We are going to keep it a little more based on not only invasive items but ones that are sustainable and replenishable. We are going to combine all of that and make it healthy for the environment all around.”

Local culinarians will man each station to explain to guests what they are being served.

Not only is this event intended to be a fun showcase of unique food, but guests are encouraged to learn about the invasive species they live among every day.

This year, chefs from Make Food Not Waste and Edible Wow will be contributing partners. Edible Wow is a local publication that will be at the event to help educate guests on invasives.

“Part of the purpose of this event is to create a space where people can come in and start learning and understanding about it,” Friends President Erin Watson said. “We want people to feel comfortable being in the space, seeing it, learning about it and tasting it. Then, hopefully, you are walking away with some sort of call to action on what you can do in your own backyard.”

One of the goals of the event is to create zero waste. They are working with Midtown Composting to help compost all of the event’s excess.

There will be an open bar with signature cocktails incorporating invasive species.

Unique entertainment will be featured at the event, including fire dancers and a string trio.

The money collected from this fundraiser will go towards efforts of invasive species remediation, habitat restoration, native plantings, interpretive signage and land conservation.

The Friends of the Johnson Nature Center is a volunteer-run nonprofit. They are always looking for people to join in the efforts, whether it’s on a board or as a volunteer.

There is a limited number of tickets available for this event, so people should order early. Last year the event sold out. General admission costs $200, and VIP tickets cost $275.

For more information on the event visit,