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Eat This

How to Throw a Zero-Stress, Crowd-Sourced Dinner Party

Eat This BY tess falotico 11/30/2017


The key to a dinner party that’s as fun as it is laid-back (and doesn’t rely on ordering pizza)? Collaboration. Rather than prepare a four-course meal herself, A Peace Treaty founder Dana Arbib invites her friends (who are, to be fair, exceptional cooks) to come over, plan the menu, and get cracking in her kitchen—because, after all, she’s pretty busy sourcing super-special textiles from around the world. “I tell everyone to meet at my apartment at six,” Dana says. “Then we email back and forth about who can pick up what, and everyone comes over to cook together. It’s a chill way to do it.” And, we’d argue, way more fun than slaving over the stove alone. Below, Dana’s advice for bringing more party to the dinner party.



“I’m more of a host than a cook. I have an open kitchen and a big antique table, so it’s the perfect setup for dinner parties. A lot of my friends work in the food world, so one of them will take the lead on dinner—creating the menu, deciding who will do what, and cooking the food. I provide the space, put out a few snacks like labneh and other North African-inspired dips, play some music—then I let my friends do their thing. Everyone has their own strengths.”



“I do a big Thanksgiving dinner and host the Jewish holidays, too. Usually my friends bring other friends, and we all mix social circles. If it’s for a holiday, we’ll each bring in some stranded New Yorkers who didn’t go home or who immigrated here and are new to something. Sometimes we’ll discuss as a group who we think would have fun together and plan the crowd that way.”




“Usually 98% of the people around my table are not American. It just happens that that’s who I hang out with. The food my friends grew up with influences the menu. My friend Fernando Aciar, who used to be the chef at Il Buco and now owns O Café, makes Argentinian menus. Sue Chan, who does restaurant and food PR, cooks Asian-inspired dishes. My friend Timothy is French, and he cooked couscous with fish for our Rosh Hashanah dinner. He even came the day before for a few hours to prepare everything.”



“I keep my apartment pretty spotless so I don’t have to do much to get ready for a dinner party. It makes the whole thing even easier and less daunting. I just clear the space as much as possible, put out lots of candles, and lay one of our textiles down on the table. That’s really it.”



“I’m not a huge drinker, but I have the accoutrements needed to make a mixed drink, like shakers and garnishes. I’ll set up the bar and have someone else put a drink together. You don’t have to do everything—just put out the ingredients and they’ll figure it out. People also bring wine, so we’ll try what everyone brought with dinner.”



“It’s such a bummer to have a mess to clean up at the end of a dinner party when you’re full and tired. Designate someone as the person to clean while other people are cooking so that, when the food is done, so is most of the cleaning, and you just have plates in the sink when you go to bed.”

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