So happy to share images of this beauty show of a wedding we catered for friends in Joshua Tree, California. As a human, it was an honor to witness this family celebrating the commitment of @perrinizzle and @daniel.sebastian to each other. As an artist, I was thinking how could you possibly fit more creativity and love-work into one party? Otherworldly florals by @blacklotusdesign , absolute perfection by @dawn_photo, cocktails by @snakeoilcocktail , and I had the opportunity to build the color palette of the food to set well in the landscape and the earthy and gorgeous ceramics made by the bride herself @perriannhodges . All in the iT House by Taalman Koch Architects, in one of my favorite natural locations in the world. Congrats to Perriann & Daniel! See the house: https://abnb.me/EVmg/2yVu6Z2riH On-site professor of neuroscience in case of emergencies and surprise power outages: @leraboroditsky 😂 Thanks @specialtyproduce for everything under the sun.
The holidays bring about my favorite catering projects each year. I love the big meals and the detail in every garnish, pastry, and sparkling chocolate. Imagining elaborate presentations for my clients allows me connect deeply to the season, and then share my feelings through my work. I draw on memories of my grandparents' incredible decorations and lavish parties, seeing the illustrious and imaginative Saks Fifth Avenue holiday window displays in Manhattan, the tree at Rockefeller Center, the Yule Log burn and the 50 state trees in Washington DC, and countless performances of the Nutcracker. Each party feels like wrapping a gift, and watching the receiver open it with wonder and delight.
Here are some of my favorite images from December, 2017. May the New Year bring you love, community, success, travel, and expansive new experiences!
Each year at the San Diego Architectural Foundation's Orchids and Onions Celebration, Mike at Hold It Contemporary Home takes the year's selected backdrop like an outdoor downtown courtyard, or the SDMA's sculpture garden under its stunning midcentury arches and Malcolm Leland gates, and creates elegant, inviting arrangements of modern furniture from his studio's collection. So, things could only get better, by going to the source. Home Kitchen Culture was delighted to provide highly crafted hors d'oeuvres and desserts for Mike's launch of a gorgeous line of designer furniture: Natuzzi Italia. Special thanks to the inimitable Snake Oil Cocktail Company for the luscious cocktails and for charming everyone, including me!
Special thanks to the incredible Barbara Smith for snapping up the whole thing into pictures.
If you know me personally and you run into me anywhere between September and May, you'll know that I talk about the symphony all the time. HKC is honored to have partnered with Snake Oil Cocktail Company to provide catering services for such an important cultural institution for three years running. But beyond that, the people, music, and vibrant energy of Copley Symphony Hall have become such a rich part of my life. Because my family brought their musical heritage with them from Eastern Europe, many of my cousins on the East Coast were classically trained and have professional music careers. Music of all genres was always important in our homes.
I love the moment after a long week when I tuck into my seat in the dark hall and give over two hours to a completely different space- an emotional and intellectual language from another time that's just as articulate and relevant now as when it was written. I always hope my enthusiasm will spill into the community and more friends will join me there and find their own relationship to the programming. Here are some photos of the magical hall...
It is consistently a pleasure to be a part of the San Diego Architectural Foundation's culture making Orchids & Onions, recognizing the best contributions to San Diego's built environment each year, as well as the biggest blunders...Special thanks to Scott Dusek Photography for these great shots of the party.
It was inspiring and moving to be in the same room with this nationally respected leader in the field of women's health and reproductive rights. At this critical time for Planned Parenthood, Home Kitchen Culture was proud to provide reception refreshments for the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Because this event was in a private residence and security was given considerable attention, I can share very few of the images.
Home Kitchen Culture was honored to cater another year's Orchids & Onions celebration and award ceremony for the San Diego Architectural Foundation last October, which designates the best -and worst- in local architecture in 2015. This year was a special one for me because it was held in one of my favorite of San Diego's outdoor spaces- the pavilion and sculpture garden at the San Diego Museum of Art in Balboa Park. It gave me butterflies to lay a table in front of sculptures by Louise Nevelson, Henry Moore...It was a very special night...
Here is the photo set, thanks to Dona Tracy Photography,DonaTracy.com
I have always experienced that clients and catering occasions that find their way to me are special- my work brings me close to creative professionals whose own level of craft inspires me, deepens my drive to refine my own work, or simply stirs me spiritually with with a close brush to their contributions to culture, from film productions and high fashion, to the San Diego Symphony, to architecture… My education prior to culinary was in art, and I love that it has followed me.
But recently some friends put me in touch with very talented creative couple from LA, a cinematographer, and a designer whose recent accolades include the LA Ace Hotel… celebrating 10 years of companionship. As I learned about the party, I immediately fell in love with what they wanted: a canyonside backyard cocktail party with tray passed amuse bouche, followed by a family style meal. The home was built by the bride's grandfather, a California midcentury architect who built up a lot of the La Mesa Hills. The groom's family is Greek, and our mutual friend knew that my love for Mediterranean cooking would be perfectly in line with their vision.
My goal, as always, is to translate the intimacy of a shared family meal at the table and deeply fulfilling traditional food into an elegant party for larger gatherings. No buffets, or moving the lid on the chafer to plop your own food on your plate with tongs. Not unless I have to. Sit down a the table and share a roast, a salad, fight over the juices around the meat…
Our mutual friend was right to make the connection- the couple accepted the menu I designed without even a single revision- except to pare down to three appetizers and to add the grooms favorite savory pastry: tiropita. We easily found a shared vision.
The night was amazing. The guests came full of love for the anniversary pair, were greeted with champagne, and they ate octopus and cheeses and tiropita coming out of the oven every 10 minutes. They made their way to small tables and were served gorgeous salads and fresh from the oven flatbreads that I'd been leavening for two days, with house made sauces and chili pastes and Greek yogurt. Then we followed with family style braised lamb shoulder in its juices with winter squash and onions, to pour over couscous and charred vegetables. It was a meal.
One of my very dear friends is Greek, and often helps me on events. He was so excited to be at a Greek family party and immediately spoke to the guests in their own language…I thought they were going to hug and kiss him! I consulted him earlier in the week because I wanted to bring a special toast for the bride and groom, and we brought three rare and vintage Greek spirits: a vintage single shot bottle of ouzo, a 7 star Metaxa, and…yes, a **60 year old ouzo hand carried from Greece**. That, is another story…but by the end of the night, we felt like family. Cheers to the bride & groom and their wonderful family. Cheers to an unforgettable celebration.
Incredible thanks to the talent and artistic insight of photographer Dona Tracy for capturing these moments as they are. DonaTracyPhotography.com
SLOW ROASTED SPANISH OCTOPUS| Slow Roasted and Fire Finished Spanish Octopus, Heirloom Tomato, Finger Lime "Caviar", Cucumber Bruniose, Lebneh, Oil & Aleppo Pepper Flake. Presented in the family's vintage china spoons.
TIROPITA! | A Flaky Pastry Filled With Traditional Greek Cheeses.
CUCUMBER W/CHARRED EGGPLANT HUMMUS| Tiny Cucumber Pallette, Smoky Eggplant Hummus, Feta, Micro- Herbs & Lemon.
SALAD| Bright Lettuces, Local Dates, Marcona Almonds, and Creme Fraiche with a bracing Date & Yuzu Citronette. This salad is a beauty!
GRILLED FLATBREADS| House Flatbreads with Olive Oil, Za’atar & Sumac, served with three incredible sauces and single origin olive oil. Sauces: Harissa, Meyer Lemon & Herb Pesto (vegan), and Lebneh w/toasted spices. *Sauces are meant to remain on table to accompany the second course.
GRILLED VEGETABLE SET
BRAISED LAMB SUGO WITH WINTER SQUASH| A 24 hour preparation of lamb shoulder with fennel & wine, served with its’ juices and roasted Winter squash (the best/first to come in by late September of Kuri, Kabocha, or Butternut). An excellent country dish, perfect for a family setting but elegant enough to elevate the meal to a deeply memorable experience. Garnished with torn herbs, accompanied with harissa, lemon-herb pesto, and lebneh.
Last year it was an honor to be invited to provide the culinary experience for the Mexican Independence Day Celebration for the Mexican Consulate in San Diego. It was an amazing party! But this year we really wanted to take it to another level of elegance and celebration...
What started out as a 300 person event climbed in the final day to 450 people, so we went back into the HKC Kitchen to make a little more of everything...and I planned the service rate to be just a bit faster...In one hour, we served 100 beautiful platters of empanadas with perfect flaky crusts, sopes with gorgeous albacore from Catalina Offshore, albondigas simmered in consomme with roasted onions, fresh tamales, and colorful little spoons of chicken with mole negro, charred micro onions, and an emulsion of traditional Mexican sweet corn cake...and we followed that with Tres Leches Cake with strawberries and cream...
And of course, Snake Oil Cocktail Company provided all the heart could desire from a good cocktail party.
Parties like this make me love what I do. The high spirits and fast pace and music are the reward, the culmination of long hours of preparation. Seeing a hundred basic elements- flour, eggs, salt, fish- finally come together on beautiful platters and then disappear... that's what it's all about for me.
Special thanks to my partners at Snake Oil Cocktail Company for another creative collaboration. It's inspiring to work with partners at such a high level of craft. Cheers!
Also very special thanks to the speed, stealth and artistic fluency of photographer Dona Tracy! This party was a handful to capture the full scope of, but with over 40 years in the profession, she has some chops ;)
Tamalitos - Recién Hechos - Tamalitos de Rajas con Poblanos, Queso y Salsa Tomatillo, Hoja de Maíz
Empanadas de Picadillo - Picadillo de Res con Chile Guajillo y Crema Poblana
Albóndigas - Albóndigas con Cilantro, Arroz, Cebolla, Hierbabuena en Salsa Chipotle - Palillo
Tostada de Atún - Atún Aleta Amarilla, Cebollita Encurtido, Salicornia, Frijol, Flor Micro
Mole Poblano - Pollo en Mole, Cebollita Asadas, Emulsión de Maíz - Cucharita
Pastel Tres Leches
Orchids & Onions was such a great event to be part of! Was definitely a night to remember. Here is the full menu for the night...
On the Table
Artisanal Cheeses and Charcuterie | Cannellini Bean Spread with Heirloom Tomatoes and Garlic Confit | Olives | Nuts | Fresh Baguette | Crackers | Seasonal Fruit and Honeycomb
Braised Beef | Red Wine Reduction. Herbed and Roasted Root Vegetables. Potato Mash.
Seared Opah | Roasted Beylik Farms Yellow Tomato Sauce. Heirloom Baby Tomatoes. Cannellini Beans. Broccolini. Polenta Cake.
An Assortment of Petite Sweets
by Christina Ng and Chinitas Panaderia| Browned Butter Cakes with Pear Compote and Pistachio Brittle, Roasted Grape and Frangipani Tartlett, Chocolate Ganache filled Profiteroles...
The VIP Experience:
Prepared selection of specialty sushi by an on-site exhibition chef from Azuki Sushi.
Lamb and Merguez Meatball | Date Molasses Glaze. Roasted Cipollini Onions. Harissa.
Chile-Braised Beef Empanada | Sweet Potato Cream. Salsa de Chile California and Crema.
Brown Turkey Fig Crostini | Point Reyes Blue Cheese. Crisped Pancetta. Wild Fennel Pollen.
Donuts! With amazing glazes and crunchy what-nots.
This special celebration of San Diego's design and architecture was a team effort. Huge, huge thanks to the San Diego Architectural Foundation for the opportunity to contribute. Shouts to my partner, Snake Oil Cocktail Company, for the awesome collaboration and their incredibly talented mixologists. Also special thank yous go out to Tommy Gomes and Catalina Offshore Products, Christina Ng and Chinitas Panaderia for the amazing sweets, and Rosita's Flowers in Barrio Logan.