By: Michela May Photos by: Rachel Benavides
It began last year, in March, in the backyard of a local family: dinner served in an immaculate garden, complete with a white cloth covering the massive table top, crisp cotton linens, and a sweet wine. A large family gathered, talking among themselves for hours, savoring the meal set before them. This is what The Roughian brings to the table.
Corpus has displayed plenty of unique and creative dishes through the years, but nothing like this. This first ever pop-up dinner experience was developed by Corpus Christi native, Natalie Trevino. A graduate of the Art Institute of Austin in culinary practices, Trevino’s specialty is French cuisine. She works with a colorful palette, mixing together tastes no one ever thinks could possibly coincide. But she does it, and it’s a work of art in itself.
Trevino brings rustic tastes of American touches and classic French foods to her pop-up party, recognizing the diversity that already exists in the Coastal Bend area. Trevino wants to celebrate everything about this place, by giving back in the form of delicious cuisine. Said delicious cuisine looks like crispy fried beer- brined chicken, seafood spreads of breaded lemon crab cake under a tender ribeye steak, and refreshing summer selections of creamy ratatouille risotto. Each is served with a signature cocktail and after-dinner coffee, with her own creation of “schnecken” desserts.
She wasn’t always a culinary artist, though. When she started college at Del Mar, studying to be an educator, she quickly discovered this was clearly not for her. After that, her story gets a little complicated (to say the least).
While working on her degree at the Art Institute, she became ill to the point of being bed-ridden, but that gave her the chance to hone in her skills through reading and cooking for her grandmother. Being sick actually gave her that last push to change a brick-and-mortar concept into a living dining experience that everyone should experience.
The Roughian is the work of four women, where they set up some of the most extravagant, yet rough, versions of what America is in the Coastal Bend. Bringing in her French teachings, Natalie creates a five- course meal for any house party or celebration, while the rest of her team, (which is made up of both friends and family), Terri, Hannah, and Emily, make sure each space is well prepared to fit that Roughian concept.
This dining experience is intimate yet approachable. By preparing everything beforehand – from setting up the menu online to buying the necessary flowers for that evening’s setting – their method allows each guest to feel just that: a welcomed member of the family who doesn’t need to worry about cleaning the dishes afterward. Instead, guests are able to simply enjoy great conversations shared over a great meal. “That’s what we do with The Roughian – just have a good time,” Trevino explains. “I just want to make food for people.”
And she demonstrates these skills every Saturday with something new and exciting. She doesn’t own a store front yet, and works exclusively from home, making sure each weekend provides something savory and sweet enough for anyone to dream about all next week.
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