Hi friends! Kate here.
I'll never forget the first time I went to New York. My mom and her best friend Michelle surprised my brother, myself, and Michelle's two sons with a three-day trip to Manhattan the day after Christmas. We ice skated, basked in the glory of the magnificent Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, went to see The Lion King on Broadway, ate mounds of Italian food at Carmine's, sipped on frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity 3, and purchased touristy I ❤️ NYC shirts for me to take back to my best gal pals. At that time in my life, it was undeniably the most incredible experience I'd had to date. And it planted a seed that has only blossomed in every season since.
The trip described above, and the many that followed it led me to one conclusion when I started thinking about where Create Dinners would travel outside of Los Angeles for the first time. We had to go to New York.
It was only fitting that our theme, just weeks before Thanksgiving, to be "Home". It was really important to me to have this dinner in someone's actual home, welcoming everyone in with its cozy couches and blankets. I wanted the food to be comforting. The type of dishes that your mother or grandmother make and convince you to keep refilling your plate with until you become uncomfortably full... unbutton-your-top-pants-button full. I wanted conversation to be had in a space dimly lit by candles and lamps in the distance, and for the combined aroma of our meal and candles to suggest that the holidays were just around the corner.
Miraculously, all of these hopes and dreams came to fruition. A lot of women, complete strangers who had heard about us through friends of friends or stumbled upon our pages, applied and offered to bring their beautiful talents to the Create Dinners table. People offered to drive from upstate New York, Canada, and other surrounding areas. It was a really hard dinner to choose attendees for, mostly because I knew it was going to be such a special one and I wanted everyone to be a part of it.
Dinner No. 7 took place at a beautiful penthouse in Harlem. It was remarkably spacious for a New York apartment, but embodied the word cozy. Because daylight savings had happened just a few days prior, we met a little earlier in the afternoon... 'cause what's one of these dinners without some beautiful golden hour photos to document our time together? We spent time up on our hosts amazing rooftop drinking red wine and snapping portraits. Then we meandered downstairs and dove into a time of writing postcards to loved ones. Next was dinner and my favorite, conversation questions. To finish, we drank tea, ate dessert, and listened to a story.
I've debated about sharing this next part of the dinner on the blog since it happened, and decided that I'm going to because it's kind of remarkable and ultimately sheds light on why I feel so passionate about Create Dinners.
At this dinner, we found ourselves without plates and glassware as everyone was arriving. We did lots of picture taking on the roof, hoping things would get there in time, but they didn't. And you know what? It was all ok. In fact, it was better than ok. Because we were all creatives, and our host Kelsea is amazing and both owned enough and graciously allowed us to use her personal items, we did a quick pivot, and were able to pull enough plates and glasses for people to eat and drink from.
The mishap above occupied my brain for such a short time at the dinner that I honestly kind of forget it happened. The meaningful conversation and connections formed FAR outweighed that tiny moment of going "what do we do now" and in fact, might have made it even better and in line with our theme. I share all of that to say, nothing is ever perfect, and things can still be incredibly beautiful even when they don't go as planned.
One of the most special parts of this dinner was that my mom and Michelle, the women who introduced me to NYC, were in attendance. As lovers of the city themselves, and humans who largely embody the word "home" for me, it only felt right that they were there. I still can't believe they flew all the way out from Texas to be there for it -- less than 24 hours no, less, and with many treats in tow.
Without further adieu, I give you our Dinner No. 7 Attendees.
Elise Cahill - Elise traveled with me all the way from Los Angeles to attend this dinner. She is a true friend and champion of Create Dinners, and I feel that I will forever be trying to express the love, admiration and gratitude I feel for her. For the night, she kept everything running smoothly, and documented everything via social media for us. If you followed along that night, it was Elise's handy work that you witnessed.
Allegra Edwards - Allegra was our entertainment for the evening! She gifted us with another thoughtful, and humorous, yet sweet, story about a relationship that ultimately tied back to our "home" theme. It was the perfect way to conclude our evening together and left everyone with a happy, warm fuzzy feeling.
Dina Deleasa-Gonsar - Dina was our chef and made us a meal that I still think about / hope to recreate next fall. I was so impressed by all the prep work she did and the way she worked in the kitchen, keeping things cool and relaxed the whole time. For appetizers, she made Marsala Stuffed Mushrooms and Eggplant Caponata Crostinis. For the main course, she served up Butternut Squash, Goat Cheese, and Sage Lasagna. On the side, she made a Fennel and Orange Salad and Charred Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta. And for dessert, she created a Chocolate Espresso Mousse with Sambuca Laced Whipped Cream. You guys, there were gold flecks on top. GOLD. Be sure to check out Dina's amazing blog Dish It Girl!
Kristen Daniels - Kristen is such a gem, with such a kind, sweet demeanor. She makes her own organic loose leaf teas, and they are GOOD. As a recently self-proclaimed tea lover who got some of this for Christmas from Elise, I'm partial to her Jasmine Dream tea, but I truly love them all. For the dinner, she made us her yummy Red Red Chai tea. We drank it with dessert while Allegra told her story, and it was blissful.
Esther Acosta - Esther made us hand poured candles to place down our tablescape and all throughout the room with a few different scents that reminded her of home. They all blended so nicely together, giving the room the same cozy feeling you have when you're snuggled up on the couch with a good read.
Remi Robinson - I'm really sad Remi lives in NYC because I know we'd be good friends. She's spunky, hilarious, and so easy to be around. For this dinner, Remi wrote an amazing poem that she read during our dinner. It was about home, and the nostalgia that comes with it. By the end, I, along with others at the table, had happy tears welling up in my eyes.
Carter Fish - Carter and Remi are roommates, so all the wonderful feelings I have about Remi apply to Carter as well -- an instant friend, who I wish lived closer to me. Carter created the most beautiful, thoughtful, home movie-esque video for us, recapping the night. In under a minute, she conveys all the feels and recounts the events from the night -- time on the rooftop, our meal, sharing tea, getting to know each other, etc. If you haven't seen it, do yourself a favor and watch it now here.
Kelsea Olivia Gaynor - Kelsea, Kelsea, Kelsea... what would I have done without this gift of a human being? Kelsea understood the Create Dinners vision from the very get-go and helped bring it to life. She offered up her home to myself and 12 other strangers during what had to be the busiest weeks of her life, and graciously welcomed us in. Kelsea created an amazing hanging installation above our dinner table with fall colored leaves, allowed us completely rearrange her living room, use her personal items to style the table, and she spearheaded the tablescape assembly. One of my favorite things she pulled in were the bright orange persimmons. After the dinner, Elise and I sat with her for a long time talking about our lives -- the good, the bad, and the lovely parts. It was perfect and I'm so thankful for this woman and the role she played at Dinner No. 7.
Becca Block - Becca was our florist for the night and put together gorgeous floral arrangements for us to dress our table with. She used gold hexagon vases, and pulled in some of the deeper, richer colors from our palette, which made for a lovely combination. Becca was so helpful throughout this dinner, from the setup to the breakdown and I was so inspired by her handy work.
Jennie Putvin - I'm so glad I know Jennie now. Should I ever find myself in need of a custom project that requires letter pressing, she's going to be my girl. For the dinner, she printed Remi's amazing poem and designed a custom menu in THREE DIFFERENT COLORS for us. They had raw edges, and were, truthfully, so much more beautiful than I could have even imagined. I still have my menu and will keep it forever -- that's how much I loved it.
Olivia Rhinehart - If you were to ever pass Olivia on the street, you might confuse her for St. Vincent. She is both stunning and fun, and it was such a pleasure to have her at Dinner No. 7. She contributed beautiful cream colored napkins, dressed with a sweet little purple ribbon. They kept our tablescape feeling perfectly minimal.
Lottie Caiella - Lottie was with us in spirit, as she had last minute needs she had to attend to. That didn't stop her from sending us her amazing contribution, and I'm so thankful for it. Lottie designed and printed us original post cards for us to write on as our welcome activity. We clipped them to clipboards with stamps and pens, played some soft tunes, and wrote to loved ones who reminded us of home. We missed you VERY much, dear friend!
Carol Pauley - For this dinner, my mom made her famous chocolate chip cookies. If you've ever been to my home in Dallas, Texas, you've likely had them. All my friends in college knew when a package arrived from her, they'd be in there. They're the best, and I'm so thankful she shared them with everyone at Dinner No. 7. My mom is not big on social media, so instead of linking to her private IG account, I'll link to something that will tell you more about her. For over 40 years, she's worked for an amazing organization in Texas called Christian Works for Children. They help build healthy homes and families through adoption, counseling, support groups and more. They do some pretty amazing things... I'm a very proud daughter!
Michelle Tucker - Michelle, my mom's bestie, also made cookies -- HER famous thumbprint cookies with raspberry icing. She works with my mom at Christian Works, and as a doctor. In addition to her delicious cookies, she also created beautiful customized clipboards for us to write our postcards on.
Last, is myself, Kate Edwards. I took all the photos below, and had the joy of planning this dinner from afar, with the great help of everyone above.
Now for my favorite part... Enjoy!