About 2 weeks ago, I was invited to a dinner. All I really knew going in was that it was hosted by a friend of my friend who founded this series of dinners with the goal of gathering 16 creatives - artists, designers, planners, writers, business owners, inspiring women - with various talents to showcase, stories to tell and strength to share. This was Create Dinner No. 5.
Themed "Sobremesa," Dinner No. 5 was inspired by the Latin tradition of the conversation and relaxation that lingers at the dinner table long after the meal is finished. It's an authentic and beautiful custom - one that I feel I had embraced long before I even realized its cultural origin or significance. Our dinner was hosted in this incredible open loft in the downtown Arts District of Los Angeles. The exposed beams, wood and natural light made for fabulous photos and a stunning all-around ambiance. Take a peek:
Each guest in attendance brought something different to the table (pun intended):
Kate Edwards: Kate is the founder of Create Dinners. She brought this amazing passion project to life just over a year ago and since, it has taken off, gathering creatives from each nook of LA and beyond. She is also an awesome photographer. Thank you, Kate, for including me in this evening.
Kylie Mazon: The culinary mastermind behind Cooking with Cocktail Rings, Kylie was our chef for the evening. She prepared a MILLION (no, not really) crazy good tacos (sweet potato and black bean yes please!) and some killer guac and salsa, not to mention a naked tres leches cake that was just the prettiest thing I ever did see. (Naked cakes are my new jam.)
Devin Ericksen: Devin is a wedding coordinator in Arizona and flew out to LA for the weekend. She prepped the menu with Kylie and not only sous cheffed for the evening, but she painted some gorgeous calligraphy tiles with each guest's name for place cards.
Elise Cahill: Elise is half of a gorgeous blog team, The Happy Hunters. Her personal wardrobe just so happens to be majorly Latin-inspired as well as the dinner, and she and Kate created a lookbook from her collection to inspire us. She even offered up her pieces for guests to borrow for the evening. Elise also brought necklaces handmade by her sister, Korena, as a gift for everyone.
Katie Marble: Katie is the other half of the beautiful blog, The Happy Hunters. She takes amazing photos, which I've recently been stalking out on their blog! And she contributed the embroidered napkins and runner for the dinner table which complemented the theme so perfectly.
Heather Wong: Heather is a pastry chef at Sweetsalt Food Shop and Cascabel in Toluca Lake - both of which will surely lure me from my three-mile-West-Side bubble. She made Polvorones (Mexican wedding cookies) dusted in pulverized freeze dried strawberry and hibiscus leaves and orange brown sugar Marranitos (piggy cookies!) as a take home gift for everyone, and although I'm not known for my baking, I need to give these puppies a shot. Otherwise I'll need to hunt her down for more. Probably the latter. Heather and I traded war stories from our lives in professional kitchens and I appreciated that immediate bond.
Shirlee Fisher: Shirlee is a ceramicist who contributed her handmade plates for the dinner - their bright, earthy red made the tablescape pop. Her work is simple yet elegant, and if/when she decides to sell to retail shops, you're damn straight it will be available at Hello Crisp.
Kimberly Bozeman: Kimberly brought the tastiest cocktail into our lives. It was called the Paloma Sangria, and even I (I'm typically a HARD no to tequila) loved her refreshing blend of white wine, tequila, grapefruit, lime and mint. She recently started a blog about her life and some pretty ridiculous instances. She read one of her posts to our group - it was sassy, saucy, relatable and absolutely hilarious.
Kristin Violet: Kristin is a graphic designer who made the gorgeous menus for each place setting. During the sobremesa, she opened up about a very personal experience. It was beautifully real and I admired the strength I could see within only hours of meeting this woman.
Amy Foster: Amy recently launched her own floral shop, Hello Honey Flower Co., which specializes in events, weddings and deliveries. She arranged the bouquets in vintage copper vessels for our dinner and foraged most of the blooms herself. I'm a bit obsessed with her rustic, romantic style.
Elli Papayanopoulos: Elli was our photographer. After working in finance for years, she decided to follow her passion and start her own company, Elli Lauren Photography. She travels and shoots weddings, music, portraits, lifestyle, you name it - all in a photojournalistic style. Her captures from our evening are stunning, STUNNING.
Emily Ellis Fox: Emily owns an online shop and studio showroom called Materia that sells goods inspired by contemporary Mexican designers. She set up a little pop-up for us to check out a few of her pieces, like the sweet wicker bulls that adorned our dinner table. She has such respect for the artisans she works with and it was super insightful speaking with a fellow small business boss lady.
Sofia Draco: Sofia is a half-Swedish half-Greek..... you name it. She’s an artist, photographer, musician, free spirit and more. She has the sweetest voice and she played a few songs with acoustic guitar and sang to us - it was the perfect close to this beautiful evening.
Lindsay Garcia: Lindsay is a social worker. She came up from Long Beach for the dinner, and hand painted adorable pots planted with teeny succulents (my other jam) for everyone to take home. As Kate and Kylie said - so much Oprah-style swag!
I curated some tabletop pieces from Hello Crisp: pink confetti glasses - hand blown in Mexico and especially fabulous full of pretty Paloma. I also brought matte black utensils, serving boards for the tacos... and my taste buds... :)
And the menu was juuuuuust perfect:
Smoky Chipotle Salsa w/ Tortilla Chips
Chicken Street Tacos
Braised Tacos al Pastor
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos w/ Chili Lime Almonds
Tres Leches Cake
Sea Salt Caramel Fudge Brownies
Needless to say, it was a lovely evening getting to know all of these women. Food-centric communication, sharing, inspiration, creativity. Sobremesa is the time spent in conversation - digesting, relaxing, enjoying. The Latin tradition encompasses the view that how we eat and who we eat with are as important as what we eat. Sobremesa was not only the theme of No. 5, but seems to pretty accurately describe the essence that is Create Dinners.
Photos were taken by, well, everyone, but in particular, Elli, Kate and Katie.