Introducing TDPC – Francesca


Hello everyone!

My name is Francesca and I think I can be considered a very late bloomer in the kitchen.

Until a few years ago, my interests and passions lied in anything but food: career, fashion, books, home decorating, flower arranging, traveling around the world and anything else that would satisfy my sense of beauty and aesthetics.

And then one day not very long ago – as it so often happens in life – due to a “force majeure” event, I found myself in front of the stove, in that room of the house that I had utterly ignored up until then!

What to do then? Oh well! I had no idea where to start from, but I knew I had two weapons on my side and I was very determined to make full use of them.

Firstly, I was born and raised in Italy and my country’s culinary tradition is totally unique. Secondly, I come from a very traditional family where every woman and most men had been cooking for all their lives. I suddenly realized my taste buds had been abundantly trained since infancy. The only thing I was lacking was practice (because everyone knows that practice makes perfect). Next thing I know… I was on the phone with my mom talking recipes and culinary skills. Then came culinary education and classes.

I cook every day for my family but I like to experiment and play with food only when inspiration comes. I can get inspiration from anything: a smell, a flavor, a color, a shape, a flower, even a book or a fashion magazine. I love that thrilling chill I feel every time I start picturing a new dish (which usually happens in my bed!) I select and combine the ingredients in my mind way before I do it with my hands and I previsualize the final result, the colors, the taste, even the table setting for my dish and the flowers that go well with it. In the end, I know exactly what I want to make and how it should look like.

My food is very simple and unpretentious. I don’t like overcomplicated recipes or those that call for never-heard of ingredients. 😉

When it comes to food, I’m a purist and a big supporter of traditional dishes executed the way our grandparents used to make them. No need to reinvent the wheel there. For any dish, I use very few ingredients, but I make sure that they are top-notch quality. I’m a huge believer in “less seasoning is more”: I use just enough seasoning to enhance the natural flavors and then let the ingredients speak for themselves.

I don’t think that all food or every ingredient is delicious. I’m very peculiar in terms of what I like and eat (aren’t we all?) but that doesn’t prevent me from cooking dishes I don’t love for my family and friends. I put a lot of effort into making sure that my food looks good as much as it tastes good because it is absolutely true that we eat with our eyes before we do it with our mouth.

When Margot invited me to join her and her fellowship of talented bloggers for this special dinner party project, I was honored and surprised at the same time. I’m not what you would call a social butterfly: I like to keep to myself and meet and talk to people on my terms. So at first I was very undecided whether to participate in this project, but then I thought that every party has its introvert – it wouldn’t be a proper party without one, don’t you think? – and of course that role belonged to me.

These are my hopes and auspices for The Dinner Party Collective project: I hope that you will join our virtual communal table and enjoy what you see on it so much that you will not want to leave. I hope that you will like our recipes, ideas, parings and suggestions so much that you will want to take them to your own table and share them with your family and friends. I hope that hanging out here with us will inspire you so much that, in planning your next dinner party, you will feel the same thrilling chill that I feel when I get the inspiration for a new recipe.

Talk to you very soon!

Francesca (Flora’s Table)

Introducing TDPC – Suzanne

Suzanne "a pug in the kitchen"
Suzanne “a pug in the kitchen”

I love food, preparing it, eating it and sharing it with others. There is nothing more enjoyable than getting together with friends and family with  good food and wine. I grew up in a large Italian family, every Sunday was a special occasion, the entire family got together and my Mom and Aunts would prepare an amazing meal. My Grandfather had a small vineyard and made his own wine. He used to take me to the wine cellar to help him fill up a bottle for the meal. I was too young to enjoy wine then but it cemented my love of sharing food and wine with family and friends.

The food I serve is seasonal as much as possible, fresh, organic, sustainable and humane. I am convinced that the food we make and eat has a direct bearing on our health and well being and eating fresh unprocessed food is very important to me and is what I strive to serve daily.

I am a Real Estate agent and I live and work in beautiful historic Brooklyn. I love what I do, it’s fun and affords me the ability to feed my passion for cooking, I think I have always loved being in the kitchen, it’s a creative outlet for me. There is such a feeling of pride and satisfaction when you prepare and serve a meal that is enjoyed by all. My passion for cooking also inspired me to start my blog, “a pug in the kitchen” . My sweet pug Nando is my constant companion and loves his homemade food.

When Margot emailed and asked if I would be interested in participating/collaborating with such a great lineup of talented bloggers I was happy and excited to say YES!  We are all hoping to inspire everyone to gather around the table and enjoy great food and wine and each others company. I love dinner parties and have them often; there is nothing more elegant, comforting and reassuring than getting together with friends and or family to talk, eat, drink and enjoy and I am so happy to be a part of this collective.

Cheers Everyone!!

Suzanne (A pug in the kitchen)

Introducing TDPC – Sandra

Sandra from PleasePassThe Recipe
Sandra from PleasePassThe Recipe

Sharing good food, fine wine and stimulating conversation at the dinner table is my favourite pastime, so planning, cooking and posting for a virtual dinner party hosted by “The Dinner Party Collective” is for me an exciting new project.

Australia’s ground breaking food doyenne Stephanie Alexander is responsible for my obsession with food. I dined at her very first restaurant in the 1970s and that single experience unleashed a latent interest. I developed a passion for cookbooks and an enthusiasm for cooking schools which led me to being a willing captive in the kitchen.

I have pursued my passion for food in many ways, from feeding my kids to leading a kitchen brigade of ten. It’s the alchemy of transformation that holds me in it’s thrall, the art of creating well crafted, delicious tasting food from simple fresh seasonal ingredients. My influences are broad and eclectic. I am an instinctive cook and I trust my palate to guide me.

The privileges of travel and living in a multicultural society have exposed me to a plethora of the world’s cuisines. As my interest in each has been piqued I have sought to connect with the authentic traditional foods of a region to gain an understanding of the interplay of taste, ingredients and cooking methods. These encounters have exposed me to new flavour profiles and broadened my appreciation of the benefit of eschewing gadgets, short cuts and pre prepared ingredients. I’m not much interested in fads and fashion, laborious and other worldly techniques or outlandish elaborate presentations. The style of food I prefer has clean clear flavours, simple construction and visually appeal. Blogging seems the natural progression in my food journey, a journey which has mirrored the growth of Melbourne as a foodie capitol.

I hope my involvement with “The Dinner Party Collective” will not only give me the opportunity to share what I have learned, but also provide enrichment from collaborating with other wine and food enthusiasts.

Cheers, and here’s to stress free dinner party entertaining.

Sandra (Please Pass the Recipe)