Last week, I was lucky enough to be able to attend the Sunday Suppers dinner party. I’d heard of Sunday Suppers before, and full disclosure, I knew it was something I should probably know more about, but I wasn’t particularly sure if it was a cookbook…a cooking class…a religious event of some kind? Not sure…what it was though was just about the most lovely dinner party.
You’ll have your doubts when you arrive…after figuring out how to even get to Brooklyn. Not that it’s all that hard but the directions when the directions are “Take the boat to Brooklyn” and you don’t know the city all that well to begin with. I went on into full tourist mode using the exact same methods I use when I don’t speak a local language – roving around repeating my destination until someone helps me. “Brooklyn? Brooklyn? BROOKLYN?!?”
It takes a little map work…and a ferry…and a cab…and a hike up four flights of stairs in what looks to be a rather dubious warehouse. But you arrive and open the door to a white, open space, with a picture perfect view of the city, jam packed with beautiful produce and full of smells that scream the definition of fresh.
I’ll confess, I haven’t been so great about throwing my own dinner parties – part of its time, part of its space…But last week reminded me that a good dinner party really is just made up of a few tried and true rules, and last week made me inspired to get to entertaining all over again:
- Calm in the kitchen: At Sunday Suppers, Karen and her staff prep and cook completely in the open. No shouting, no stress, no clanging…I can’t imagine that things go right 100% of the time – the never do in my own kitchen but no one has to know that…exuding that calmness makes your guests feel calm. Smiling makes your guests smile.
- Good ingredients mean good meals: And good ingredients don’t necessarily mean expensive ingredients (though they can be!) – fresh ingredients don’t need a lot of complicated preparation, just enough to let the flavors shine through. Give your guests some hint at what’s to come – at Sunday Suppers baskets of produce that would go into the dessert or salad were on display – they’re beautiful but they also build excitement for the meal.
- Dinner parties are about companionship: That’s the whole point, right? If you invite other people to eat with you, it’s because you want to see them, get to know them better. Same thing if you accept an invitation. At Sunday Suppers, the organizers made us change tables after every course so in the end, you finished having meaningful conversations with more than just your left and your right, since your left and right changed several times over. During my first course, I sat next to Design Mom (how’s that for luck?), and then proceeded to meet to many interesting people to include a librarian from Argentan (luckily a nice bordeaux helps my rusty French), a state representative from Utah, a jewelry designer from Texas, and a fellow graduate from the IR sphere, not to mention several other really interesting bloggers and designers.
- Think about what your guests will appreciate and enjoy: Joss and Main, the design sale site, was the sponsor of the dinner and they really thought through what bloggers themselves would enjoy. Their takeaway? A portable battery recharger for iphones – so for an audience of people addicted to their iphones getting ready for a full day the next day, it couldn’t have been more perfect. Make sure that you think through your guests point of view, they’ll notice.
- Details matter, but details don’t dictate: It’s not about having flouffy, complicated things, but it’s about having a few really special things. Our tables were set with such lovely flowers and vines, with hand calligraphy menus on a copy run of a New York Times page, and a jar of home made pickles, and every single one of those says “I took time for you”. As a guest, between personal touches, amazing food and engaging conversation, what more can you ask for?