Q&A with Beth Susens, Chief Fun & Food Officer | Gardenuity Events

beth susens

Beth Susens is the mastermind behind our Gardenuity Events, bringing fun and innovation to what and how we serve. Deriving inspiration from the garden and from her desire to share the joy of food, her recipes are unique, delicious, and always a hit at our events.

With two children, a husband (& co-chef), and a chocolate-covered labrador poodle named Truffles, Beth is a fun-loving and creative chef that brings joy into every room through her food and genuine spirit.

This week, we interviewed Beth to get an insight into the brain that creates the Gardenuity Events and the magic.

Q: How did you get involved in Gardenuity?

Donna Letier and Beth Susens

A: Donna, the CEO of Gardenuity, and I met over 10 years ago. Her daughter Madison and my daughter, Miller, graduated from high school together. We also both have children with disabilities, so we quickly became friends.

A few years ago, when Gardenuity was beginning, I helped a little bit because I have always loved gardening. At the time, I told her, when this really takes off, I want to become Chief Fun Officer. I can’t be a CFO because I don’t know enough about math, but I love being a part of a team that appreciates people and is focused on a mission I believe in: making gardening accessible to anyone and growing gratitude with each and every garden. Gardenuity is all of that and I love being a part of this great team of passionate people.

rosemary cocktail

Q: What is your current role at Gardenuity in regards to the Events?

For the Gardenuity Events, I show up and create the magic around the table. I’m there, I plan, I find out what plants are being used in the event, how many people are going to attend, come up with the recipes, make the food, etc. I just do all of it — I joke that I’m kind of Donna’s ‘work wife.’

Q: Are you involved in other ways beyond making food for the events?

A: If we don’t have a pairing with another vendor, I also make the cocktails. Recently, we had a mixology event about how to craft a cocktail, so our partners were in charge of drinks then. I had never thought about using oregano in a cocktail and it was over the top.

When we have an additional person coming in, it’s just one more layer of information for the customer. Everyone seems to really love learning.

Cooking is an expression of yourself…It’s a gesture of love and kindness.

Beth Susens
beth susen doing her thing at a gardenuity gathering

Q: When did you start cooking?

A: I’ve always enjoyed cooking. I don’t have any specific formal training, but I’ve always cooked, I’ve always had a big kitchen, and I’ve always loved sharing food with family and friends.

I find a lot of therapy in food — in learning about it and trying different things. I love to go to different restaurants and experiment. And then I love the aspect of growing it. I’m grabbing something out of my pot or grow bag and throwing it in my kitchen.

I roasted a chicken last Sunday, and I just grabbed a handful of herbs from my grow bag, a couple of raw carrots, and some onion and put it inside the cavity and stuck it in the oven. It was delicious and so gratifying to pull from my MoGrow.

gardenuity gatherings

Q: Do you entertain regularly?

A: Oh, yes. My husband is also a good cook, so we can work off each other. Whenever we have any type of event, everyone RSVPs — and all the food disappears.

I just love giving food to people. It’s one of my birthday gifts now. I’ll bring a cooked dinner for my friend and their family instead of a picture frame or candle.

Cooking is an expression of yourself and it takes time and love to prepare a meal. I think it’s a gesture of love and kindness. I love that about it.

Q: Where did the Gardenuity Gatherings recipes come from?

A: I have a total cookbook addiction. For me, I can escape into one of those books. I love to learn about the combination of ingredients or discover menus and find new suggestions. Often, I get sparked by something that I read and say, “I’ve never thought about that, but I could take that, and flip it around and use crushed ginger cookies as a crust.”

So I read other people’s work, but I always want to create something my own way. My husband are I are both curious in the kitchen and so we try —and sometimes it doesn’t work out. We’re just trial and error.

Q: From the Gardenuity Gatherings cookbook, what is your favorite or most used recipe?

The Ricotta Cheese Recipe is the one that’s made the most. I started making that before I was involved with Gardenuity. And the thing is, I’m embarrassed about how easy it is! It tastes like it’s really involved but it’s not. If I don’t offer it, our repeat guests want to know where it is. So I make it every single time. Our last event, I made three separate platters of it and it all disappeared.

Q: What has been your favorite or most fulfilling Gardenuity Events you’ve put on?

We did a brunch event with HerTalk Podcast, so we were trying to come up with new ideas to make brunch exciting and to show off the joy of using fresh harvests from your garden. It worked out amazingly! We met some extraordinary new friends and the energy in the room was fantastic. The best 100 people I would love to hang out with again and again.

We had chicken and waffle skewers, breakfast burritos with a salsa bar, a fruit tray and yogurt bar, and really nice breads. Then, we got a Bellini machine. It’s different, it’s fresh, and we ran out of those before the event was over. Frozen Bellini’s with freshly harvested mint – the adult version of a stylish slurpee.

So that was a tricky and fun one to come up with breakfast items that are appetizers. You’re not going to eat the usual appetizers. We really pulled it off and we had to have it all done by 9:30 in the morning for 100 people.

Q: What consumes your time when you’re not working a Gardenuity event?

I do a lot in the community in Dallas that relates to people who learn differently or have disabilities. I’m on a board of the Autism Treatment Center here in Dallas. We have group homes and provide services for those individuals.

That’s primarily what I do, so I love the distraction of doing the garden business. It’s a different fork in the road for me and part of my biggest passion. I love cooking and growing, so it’s incredibly fulfilling for me.

Beth also is responsible for one of the greatest Christmas Cocktails in the world. Check them out they’re great all year long!