Today, October 4th, marks the release of my book – MADE IN AMERICA: OUR BEST CHEFS REINVENT COMFORT FOOD.
How is one to celebrate such a momentous occassion? Why with a MADE IN AMERICA dinner party of course! I’m calling it the GREAT AMERICAN DINNER PARTY.
For me there’s nothing better than a really great dinner party – but what does this mean?
First up there’s got to be great food – I’m thinking a few of the dishes from MADE IN AMERICA would be a good place to start. I always like to make food that I can prepare in advance so when the guests arrive there will be more time with them and less time in the kitchen. Much more about this in the coming days and weeks as I cook up and share some of the mouthwatering recipes in MADE IN AMERICA that are perfect to impress your friends when you entertain. I mean who better to cook with than 100 of the best chefs cooking in America today?
And the drinks? – a classic American Cocktail (hopefully Champagne based) and then straight into lots of fabulous vino, perhaps my friend Joe Bastianich who wrote the introduction to MADE IN AMERICA would help me pick out a few bottles of American wine that would pair well with all this comfort food?
And then there’s the venue – one of the many fancy restaurants around the country would have been great and there are many dinners and events planned in the coming months but how could I choose one out of the 100? – that’s like telling you I have a favorite child. Around my long table at home works well, although I’m thinking it might be a little cramped. So what better place than here on line. Since MADE IN AMERICA covers the whole of America I wanted to invite as many people from far and wide as possible and do this as a virtual dinner party.
Next up the fabulous guests carefully selected by -Your host – moi! and Gaby What’sGabyCooking over coffee at the Santa Monica farmers’ market: Susan – Urban Baker, Rachael – LaFujiMama, Nicole Pinch my Salt, Greg Sippitysup, Jaden SteamyKitchen, Maggy ThreeManyCooks, Georgia Pellegrini, Marla FamilyFreshCooking, Brooke Foodwoolf, Michael FoodForTheThoughtless, Nancy ACommunalTable, Amanda IamBaker, Amanda KevinandAmanda, Esi DishingUpDelights, Carrie DeliciouslyOrganic, Molly OrganicSpark, Aida Mollenkamp, Debbie TheCulinaryCellar, and Kristina BetterRecipes.
As with all dinner parties I’m sure we’ll have some last minute cancellations and there were those who sent their regrets due to travel and work commitments – absent friends you will be missed. I am secretly hoping for a gatecrasher or two – a few people who show up unexpectedly – always room for one more at this table. And if you are one of my besties and the invite got lost in the mail – it really isn’t too late to join our dinner party. Pull up a chair and enjoy the company.
What is a virtual dinner party? Well to be honest I’m not entirely sure, having never hosted one before. I had this crazy notion that we could some how share an experience together – each of us posting about the experience, each posting about what it means to them to be a part of this MADE IN AMERICA dinner. I kept the parameters wide – really wide – I want people to be creative and have some fun with it. We will share conversations, good food, tips and secrets – we will no doubt laugh – sitting across any table with Marla of Family Fresh Cooking is most often not just entertaining but pee in your pants funny. But please, let’s not get her started on the English accent or we’ll never make it to dessert.
Part of a memorable dinner party is the conversation – the connecting on issues of the day, the laughing over a shared memory, getting to know new people and making new friends. In our fast paced lives it’s rare these days to slow down enough to have a conversation that’s longer than a tweet. [Talking of tweets we will be using #MadeInAmericaDinner]. I instructed my guests that the usual sex religion and politics in this dinner party setting are not off limits – just keep it clean and respect each other and our opinions.
So the RSVP’s are in and I’m now waiting – in those precious quiet moments before everyone starts arriving – to see how this dinner turns out. A little nervous, very excited and always hopeful – someone once said expect everything and the unexpected never happens – I’m thinking of turning this on it’s head and expecting nothing so that everything will happen.
My favorite comment so far comes from Jaden (whos generous spirit and sharp wit never ceases to amaze me) over at Steamy Kitchen – “But what do I wear!???” she asked. Tiaras are optional Jaden, but jackets and ties for the chaps – that would be you Greg and Michael – are mandatory. You two will retire for port and cigars at some point to leave us ladies to our coffee and after dinner mints – how do you eat yours?
Can I let you into a little secret?- actually it’s a HUGE secret and I can’t really give a lot of details but I really can’t contain my excitement – the person who comes up with the best blog post for our virtual Great American Dinner Party gets to come to Hawaii with me at the end of October for the five day weekend celebration of MADE IN AMERICA at the Four Seasons Hualalai with five of the chefs in MADE IN AMERICA for lots of luxurious fun in the sun. Now if that’s not incentive enough for a gatecrasher or two I don’t know what is. But I’m getting ahead of the game – that’s my going home gift/favor for one of the guests – let the dancing on the tables begin… as I sit back and re-live some happy memories of great dinner parties I have hosted – a white dinner (white food, white drinks and white attire) started it all at the tender age of 13, an eat the magazine dinner at Grace to celebrate edible Los Angeles, the Academy Governors Dinner where I sat next to Kevin Brownlow when he received his Oscar – but the most memorable has to be the hula hooping on tables at La Cote Basque – beyond fun and part of a bygone era that’s missed and never forgotten.
Gaby What’sGabyCooking, Susan – The Urban Baker, Rachael – LaFujiMama, Nicole Pinch my Salt, Greg Sippitysup, Jaden SteamyKitchen, Maggy ThreeManyCooks, Georgia Pellegrini, MarlaFamilyFreshCooking, Brooke Foodwoolf, Michael FoodForTheThoughtless, NancyACommunalTable, Amanda IamBaker, Amanda KevinandAmanda, Esi DishingUpDelights, Carrie DeliciouslyOrganic, Molly OrganicSpark, Aida Mollenkamp, Debbie TheCulinaryCellar, and Kristina BetterRecipes.