Sobremesa | the time after a meal when food is gone, but the conversation around the table continues.
Two weekends ago Andrew and I had the heart-warming pleasure and opportunity to host a very special gathering for some very special folks! Sixteen guests flew in from various cities and drove many of miles to make Kansas City their home for the evening, and to share a seasonal supper with others made by yours truly. Inspired by the earth and the natural processes of fermentation, this intentionally coursed meal was created and organized by the fabulous team over at Sunday Suppers. Karen Mordechai, author of some cookbooks you might have heard of, reached out several months back and asked if I would be interested in being a host for their new dinner series of communal gatherings around the world called Sobremesa, of which I immediately responded, of course! Of course! Then I got nervous, but the excited kind.
While I’ve never made a coursed meal for a crowd over a dozen in our home (let alone for people whom I do not intimately know – which is kind of a major YIKES as an introvert!), being given the chance to try something new in the spirit of good food and good company felt rather comforting despite the challenges that would inevitably lie ahead. To complicate matters, I promptly decided we should host the main portion of the meal in our creaky old loft far away from the kitchen I would be cooking in. Sounds doable, right? I was bound and determined to make this work because of the enchanting vision I had in my head about how the night could go. What could go wrong? I made it a point to leave room for messes and mayhem unfold, of which none did, and found that in lowering my expectations by essentially having very little, the whole evening had much more breathing room to become a grand success!
The entire experience was entirely fun, life-giving, exciting, a bit nerve-wracking, but overall, incredibly uplifting. Of course, it was hard work and required a lot of planning, too. But it was the kind of work that hugs tightly and sprinkles hope around like confetti. I am not sure there is a single word that can seamlessly tie up the evening we shared, but Sobremesa seems to fit the bill. A few more I’d consider are: togetherness, connection, and belonging.
The smiles and warmth in these photos say it all. Making food for others is one of the ways I show love to those I care about, and when done where we live, it’s even more meaningful for me. It’s home. Andrew and I did our best to make our guests feel at home, and in return, they gave us meaningful conversation, memories, and laugher, along with a newfound perspective of what gathering and sharing a meal can truly do for our souls. Like a steadfast buoy in a turbulent sea, this evening lifted the spirits of all who came and gathered and shared. The vulnerability in not knowing who would show up, both for us hosting and the guests, made for a delicate experience that blanketed our home in grace. The world needs more of this. Our supper was one I know we will talk about for the rest of our lives, and one that will live on in the new friendships we made around the table breaking bread.
F.A.Q for Hosting a Sobremesa Supper + Large Gatherings
- What is a Sunday Supper Sobremesa meal? Sobremesa means the time after a meal when food is gone, but the conversation around the table continues. “Sobremesa is the next phase of Sunday Suppers and brings us back to our roots and the early days — sharing simplicity and a love of food. Dinners will be held four times a year around the glob and anyone can partake. A portion of the proceeds from each dinner will go to The Hunger Project, a global program based on an innovative, holistic approach, which empowers women and men living in rural villages to become the agents of their own development and make sustainable progress in overcoming hunger and poverty.”
- How many people attended? 16 guests, along with Andrew, myself, and two friends to help.
- What were the ticket prices? $95 per person
- How did you become a host for this event? I was asked by the Sunday Suppers team if I was interested in hosting, after which I filled out an application and began selecting seasons. You can do this, too!
- Who decided 0n the menu and could you deviate? Sunday Suppers decided on the menu and provided recipes for each dish. I was able to choose all of the ingredients here locally, and then adapt recipes when certain ingredients weren’t able to be found. For example, instead of using plums in the dessert, we used large grapes! I also choose local ingredients when able, like grass-fed KC strip when the recipe called for “strip steak”, which added another grounding element to the meal, I think. I also got to choose the meats and cheeses for the first course, which was fun.
- Why did you choose to have it in your home? As a homebody, hosting in our home comes natural to me. It’s my sanctuary and where I feel my soul open up most intimately. I could have chosen to host the meal in an event space apart from where we live, but that just didn’t feel like me. Home is where I am most myself and therefore most creative, so having the supper here was not only important but integral to my process in making good food, sharing it with others, and feeling comfortable throughout the night. I also love the ambiance where we live, it’s just so cozy here! I love tinkering around and finding ways to communicate comfort and beauty through my self-expression of homemaking.
- What was your inspiration for the evening?I wanted our guests to feel transported in time – to feel as though when they made their way up our old staircase to our glowing loft, that time stood still. Every detail was important to me, and it was a true joy making my ideas come alive. I had a vision of lots of candles, dimmed twinkle lights, and little homey touches throughout our home for the evening. We used lots of second hand goods we already owned that created a beautiful patina to our decor, and then chose to keep things simple and white with regard to linens and dinnerware.
- What was the most challenging part of having the meal in the loft? Preparing the dishes that needed to be done in the moment (searing steak and stirring risotto) was the most challenging part of the evening because it was done far away from our guests, but honestly it gave me a chance to sneak downstairs and rejuvenate a bit as an introvert. Cue: breathe. The other challenging part was not knowing who all would show up! These tickets are open for the public, which means anyone can attend. But after mingling in the entryway with a good cocktail before starting our meal, it was very clear that those who were gathered were not only really excited to be a part of the evening, but that they were sharing this vulnerability, too. That feeling really helped me loosen up and embrace this challenge.
- What was the most exciting part of the evening? Gosh, all of it. Truly. I enjoyed every step from grocery shopping to meeting our guests to cooking new recipes. I also loved sharing the evening with Andrew. This was something we’ve never done before, and doing it together made it extra special.
- Did you serve alcohol? We did, indeed! The meal guide didn’t include it, but we felt that a nice glass of wine (or two) with the coursed meal would only enhance the experience. We also served a spiced cider + rosemary whiskey cocktail upon the arrival of our guests, which was a bit hit and a good ice-breaker.
- Did you listen to music? Throughout the whole evening. We started with Parisian themes music and then transitioned to more instrumental tunes for the actual meal. Once conversation was flowing, along with the wine, we turned on something a little more upbeat. I say we, but Andrew did the music the whole night, and flawlessly so, I might add. You can find my playlists here.
- Did you make all the food? Indeed! I began cooking earlier on Saturday and did as much ahead of time that I could. This allowed me to spend much more time with guests so I wasn’t constantly having to leave them upstairs. Cooking is my meditation, and the process of making dish after dish was very therapeutic.
- How was it hosting as an introvert? Surprisingly comfortable, but I think hosting in our home helped that. There were a few times before our guests arrived that I was told I was talking to myself, saying things like, “It’s gonna go so well. We are ready. It’s happening.” Andrew always jokes that when I get nervous my inner dialogue sneaks out. But that soon passed. I also feel like I am a social introvert, if that’s possible. I love being around people, just in small quantities because I absorb so much all the time. It takes a lot of energy, and so I have to be careful with boundaries. But I have found that it’s only until after the company leaves that I feel like taking a four day nap. The day after our dinner both Andrew and I hardly spoke, which was wonderful for the both of us. It took me a solid five days to feel like me again, but it was completely worth it.
- Where did you get the tables and what size were they? We rented them from a party supply company. They were 8 feet by 18 inches long. Because of the narrow size of our main loft space they were the only ones that would fit.
- Where did you get the chairs and other decor items? The mismatched dining chairs were both ours and my best friend Caley’s, who also helped me tirelessly throughout the evening. I used almost everything we already owned for the decor, which was so fun to mix and match. I thrift, as you know, and most of the lanterns and candle sticks are antique. I also repurposed an old linen top sheet into two table cloths by cutting it down the middle! Grandma Viv would be proud of my frugalness.
- Did you purchase all the ingredients and if so, where? Yes, that was factored into the budget. I got most of our ingredients from Whole Foods, and several things from Aldi and Trader Joes.
- How much did you buy yourself? We rented the tables, bought napkins (well, cotton towels from IKEA), a few more wine glasses, and all the alcohol.
- Where were your dishes from? They are from Hearth & Hand by Magnolia from Target. Caley and I happen to have the same set, so we combined them for the meal. They worked perfectly.
- What if someone doesn’t like the menu? Well, everyone knew the menu ahead of time, so it’s likely they wouldn’t purchase tickets if it wasn’t something they cared for. If dietary needs needed to be addressed, I would of course accommodate.
- Did you know all who came? Only about four of the sixteen!
- Can you share the recipes? I will ask and get back to you on this one. But for sure I’ll be sharing the homemade ricotta this winter.
- How were you able to host, cook, and eat with your guests? This was a choreographed dance, and both Andrew and I went with it. Like I mentioned above, I made most of the meal ahead of time so I could be with our guests and everything was served family-style apart from desert, so that also helped minimize the plating time that would essentially take away from sitting at the table. I wanted to make it a point to speak with everyone and was able to do so because of my incredible helpers who cleared plates, brought up platters, and worked behind the scenes to prepare simple but time-consuming things like coffee.
- Did you have help? Yes, absolutely. My best friend Caley came over at 2 pm that day and helped me get things organized as well as finishing set up the table etc. She did so many other things in between and I am beyond grateful for her time and friendship. I had our babysitter MacyAnn take photographs of the evening (see above and below) so I could be present with our guests, and she also helped clean plates in between courses. Didn’t she do a lovely job!?
- Top three tips for hosting a big gathering? 1. Do as much ahead of time as you’re able. 2. Enjoy the evening. Your guests won’t if you’re stressed or too busy to connect with them. 3. Always have more food and wine than you think you’ll need. Nothing is worse than running out of something mid-party!
- How do people sign up to do this again? You can buy tickets here.
- Where did your kids go? They spent the weekend on the farm at Andrew’s sisters house. THANK GOD.
- How did your husband’s involvement play into the gathering? Andrew stayed with our guests throughout the evening at the table and made sure everyone had everything they needed from course to course. He poured wine, cleared plates, passed dishes, and chatted with all our guests. Having one person in the loft managing the supper made it possible for me to slip away and cook when needed.
- Will you ever host a Sobremesa supper again? YES! We have plans to host again in March, and will be updating you with that information when we receive it.
In the words of Virginia Woolf, “One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Isn’t that the truth. What other questions do you have about this evening? And if you are indeed an introverted soul, I hope this encourages you step outside your comfort zone and gather people around your table. It’s community and connection that make life so rich and beautiful. And good food helps, no doubt about it.