"They are the impresarios," said Lewis, a retired college administrator from Tullahoma, Tenn., "and we are the sous-chefs."
Also assisting was Patton's sister, Cassidy Papadopoulos, in from Annapolis with her husband, Dean. She took the lead making the paprika-spiced mayonnaise to accompany Patton and Dunn's own fried Brussels sprouts — one of several dishes not from a food magazine.
Papadopoulos, who will host the family's actual Thanksgiving at her house, had to make the dip five times to get it right. First, it was too hot in the kitchen for the mayonnaise to set. Then the olive oil flavor was too pronounced. So it continued. Still, most everything was going smoothly by late afternoon as guests started to trickle in to the couple's airy apartment.
"They never seem flustered," said two-time Fakesgiving guest Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Not even when the introduction of wet Brussels sprouts into a Dutch oven caused hot oil to splatter up and onto Patton's dress shirt. Lewis swooped in to attack the stain, further adding to her accomplishments, which included putting together the flower arrangements and ironing the linens for the three candlelit tables in the dining room.
Unlike at other Thanksgivings, no one was asking when the food was going to be ready. Everyone knew the drill. The dishes needed to be photographed for future Bitten Word posts before they could be eaten. The freshly fried sprouts and pitchers of gin apple cider, another Patton and Dunn concoction, kept the guests occupied.
As the volume in the living room rose, perhaps proportionally to the volume of gin apple cider consumed, Dunn and Patton continued their work in the kitchen. They carved the turkey and sprinkled it with parsley. They artfully tossed pomegranate arils on a platter of winter squash with spiced butter (Bon Appetit) until the seeds not-so-artfully fell into one of the stove top's gas burners. They poured relishes and chutneys into trays and bowls of varying shapes.