We’ve whipped up another Entertaining Exchange featuring the chief chef of Curated Tables, Jessica Guzik. On top of being a wonderful host she’s got a great blog of her own that investigates the elements of impromptu social bonding over food.
Zokos: Think back to the most recent dinner party that you hosted or attended. What was the best part of it?
Jessica: The most recent dinner part I hosted was, coincidentally, my first Zokos dinner party. The best part of it was sharing the discovery of a hole-in-the-wall taco joint with my friends. When I stumbled upon El Pique I was blown away by the sheer variety of tacos: everything from chorizo and chicken to beef tongue and tripe, all served in a double layer of corn tortillas with a scattering of cilantro and onions. But El Pique is in a pretty rough part of town, and it’s essentially a tienda with concrete floors and two plastic folding tables. You can’t bring a group to El Pique. So I brought El Pique to my group of friends.
Zokos: Explain how the most recent dinner party you threw was different than the first dinner party you ever threw. What has changed since you first started throwing dinner parties? Why?
Jessica: My motives have changed: I threw my first dinner party when I was 18 in the painfully naive hope that my spinach dip and hosting prowess would seduce a particular guest. It didn’t. Now I throw dinner parties just for the sake of cooking a particular dish, catching up with old friends, or introducing new ones.
Zokos: What are the top two items – not ingredients- at your house that you find yourself using over and over at your dinner parties?
Jessica: The first item would be mason jars. Rare is the beverage that does not taste better from a mason jar. They also double as candle holders and as vases for hand-picked flowers stolen from other people’s gardens. The second item would be a corkscrew because I’m an unapologetic wine freak.
Zokos: Where is your dream place to host a dinner party?
Jessica: I’ve been having this reoccurring fantasy about hosting a dinner party at someone else’s lavish, local pad booked through AirBNB. It seems like such a great way to have people over for dinner if your own home isn’t big enough to accommodate a crowd, and you can split the cost of renting the place among your friends. And who wouldn’t get a voyeuristic thrill out of poking around a stranger’s luxury apartment, crudités in hand?
Zokos: You can invite any four people to a dinner party – who are they?
Jessica: I’d invite Matthew Inman, creator of the web comics site The Oatmeal, and ask him to doodle something on a napkin for us to remember the evening by. Neil deGrasse Tyson would be there and he’d get us all worked up about astrophysics because he’s so unabashedly passionate about the subject. My favorite advice columnist, Carolyn Hax of the Washington Post, would guide us through our most personal dilemmas in between courses, while comedienne Megan Amram would add levity with her morbid sense of humor. Also, Olympic swimmer Ryan Lochte would serve us. Shirtless.
Zokos: What’s your ideal number of people for a dinner party and why?
Jessica: Six, because that’s how many chairs I have. And by chairs I mean friends