In Savvi Neufer’s kitchen is a large plastic tub with everything she needs to cook a meal at a moment’s notice: spices, baking powder, Ziploc bags, cookie cutters, olive oil, cutting boards, corkscrews, boxes of rice, paper plates and more. The tub is nearly as big as she is, so when it’s set on the counter, she has to stand on her tiptoes to reach inside. For now, this portable kitchen is the headquarters for Feed the Scene Denver, a one-woman effort to feed the Denver music scene, one band at a time. Feed the Scene was started on the East Coast by Rachel Taft, who recently gave Neufer permission to run her kitchen under the Feed the Scene umbrella in the hopes that together they can slowly build a national chain, an “Indieground Railroad” of people willing to feed and house bands. Now in her fifth month of cooking under the official Feed the Scene title, Neufer says she is slowly becoming Denver music’s den mother — a friendly face making sure that musicians have full stomachs, with plenty of vegetables, before they go on stage. When any local or touring band needs dinner before a show, baked goods for the long hours in a tour van or dessert to follow up a catered meal, Neufer provides it — out of her own pocket, at no cost to the musicians. Being Denver music’s den mother means cooking at midnight and having strangers in her home at a moment’s notice. It’s a lot of work for one woman, but cooking has always been something that Neufer enjoyed.
In fact, her idea of a fun date is a “chopped challenge” — in which she has to instantly come up with a delicious meal from a basket of mystery items; her idea of a fun night is cooking for a crew. Since high school, she’s been cooking elaborate meals, easily spending $50 or more just to try out a new recipe and fill her house with the smell of cooking garlic. In college, she started inviting people over for “family dinners at Savvi’s,” a tradition that taught her how much she loved feeding people. Neufer has always been into the music scene, so when she discovered that small-time touring bands often had no way to eat anything other than fast food before a show, she decided to feed them. Word spread, and before she knew it, bands began contacting her.
“I can’t play music, and you don’t want me to sing,” Neufer says, “but I can cook you a badass meal.”
Neufer says her first band meals were pretty much just penne and sauce — something super-basic and off the cuff. Now the menu has evolved to include quinoa with sautéed zucchini and a lemon cream sauce; spicy vegan fajitas; scones of savory spinach and sun-dried tomato; shrimp scampi with spinach in a white-wine and butter sauce; bacon-wrapped asparagus; chocolate cupcakes with chai frosting; and vegan chile-chocolate brownies. Neufer has never worked in a kitchen and has no official training, but she’s great at making food that sounds fancy, “smells yummy” and satisfies everyone.
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Of course, with that yummy food comes a good dose of mothering, which, Neufer says, “the scene will just shut up and take.” Most bands find out about Feed the Scene through Facebook, so Neufer has acquired 200 new Facebook friends in the past six months. She has friends all over the country now, and when she actually meets them in person, she feels like she already knows them well enough to insist on a hug.
“I always just tell the musicians, ‘You have a hug for me!’” Neufer says. “I tell them, ‘You’d better put your sweaty, stinky, in-the-van-for-four-days arms around me. I’m short, so your armpit is going to be in my face, but we’re friends, so I don’t care. Hug me, and then we’ll eat.’”
Neufer currently funds Feed the Scene Denver with her day job as a Jimmy John’s delivery driver, but she hopes to eventually build the project into a self-sustaining catering service. That will take time, volunteers and money. She recently hosted a bake sale to take the first step toward that goal, and successfully raised a little over $50 — enough to clear the minimum deposit for a new bank account in Feed the Scene’s name.