Last December, Emily Rayburn and Karlie Kramer had a long chat at June’s All Day. “I could probably sit and talk about anything over a bottle of wine,” says Rayburn, who was executive chef at the Beer Plant and Tellus Joe at the time. Eventually, the conversation turned to musing about how Kramer and Rayburn would spend their time if they could do anything with their lives.
Rayburn said she would start a catering company and a supper club in her backyard. “Karlie literally looked at me and goes, ‘That’s been my dream for years,’” Rayburn says. She and Kramer, Beer Plant, and Tellus Joe’s former pastry chef, recruited one more coworker, Jaden Gonzales, who Rayburn describes as an ambitious young chef fresh out of culinary school, to form Loam, a vegan catering company and supper club hosted in chef Rayburn’s backyard. Executive chef Rayburn says just three weeks after that initial conversation over a couple of glasses of wine, the three hosted their first dinner in January.
Loam differs from many supper clubs in Austin because it is an entirely vegan endeavor and doesn’t really try to be anything else. Outside of probiotic cheese cultured with cashews, the focus is predominantly on vegetables, not solely using plant-based ingredients as a stand-in for familiar meat products. “Getting that more intimate style of dining, and getting a curated and coursed out menu — it’s so hard to find in in Austin, vegan-wise.”
At a dinner earlier this month, Rayburn served masa dumplings with smoked mushrooms, crema, and curtido. Also on that menu was yakitori-style cabbage with fingerling limes, a verde sauce, and shaved black garlic. The yakitori cabbage was paired with a Japanese 75 — a cocktail that closely mirrors a French 75, with gin, agave, lemon, and sake. The dessert, a sopapilla cheesecake had a cocktail pairing of a margarita made with hibiscus jam.
The other left-field aspect of Loam’s supper club is the fact that the dinners are hosted in Rayburn’s backyard, lit by the moonlight. While Loam works with local farmers, Kramer, who Rayburn calls a “gardener through and through” also brings vegetables from her own house in Manor. “I want people to feel connected to the food that we’re providing,” Rayburn says about the choice to invite strangers on her home turf. “I want people to understand that when you come into my backyard, it’s intimate. My back door leads to my patio and also my kitchen. Through the blinds you can see what we’re doing and everything. I just want people to know that when I invite you into my home, it’s also giving you that safe space to sit there and really enjoy what’s curated in front of you. I want people to feel that comfort, not only in the food but what’s surrounding them.”
But there’s more to Loam than just supper; the company also wants to advocate for vegan cooking. Rayburn says she will appear in a Canadian docuseries hosted by actor and cookbook author Mena Massoud called Evolving Vegan. Additionally, they’ll offer catering services for breakfast, lunch, and dinner that include a range of more casual foods, like jackfruit sliders and tacos utilizing Just Egg. In the immediate future, the company is will participate in farmers markets around Austin to help bolster the brand and promote great, chef-driven vegan food.
“Austin just needs to be shown how powerful the vegetable is. There’s some incredible restaurants here,” Rayburn says, “but honestly, I don’t go to a lot of vegan restaurants. I go to a lot of restaurants that can curate a vegan menu, and I’m telling you — Austin’s restaurant scene is bangin’, it’s so good.”
For information about upcoming dinners and to view Loam’s catering menu, visit their website.