Spring Dinner Parties + Exciting Book News!
Happy first day of Spring! Not that you'd know it here in NYC. It's cloudy, cold, and snowing. Seriously?!?! I moved here 8 years ago on St. Patrick's Day, thinking that by mid-March I'd have safely avoided the winter. Nope – there was a foot of snow on the ground. Now, after 8 winters here, I truly know how cruel March can be here – we're still bundled up in coats and hats while the rest of the country is enjoying sunshine and blooming trees. Alas. We still have April!
Though we don't have warm weather (yet), I'm at least having fun cooking with spring ingredients. I've been cooking for a slew of dinner parties lately (not my own, but rather private cheffing jobs) and it's been fun to start planning spring menus. Last weekend, I made my naan pizzas with ricotta and shaved asparagus, followed by a spring pea risotto (plus my honey-Dijon salmon with a baby arugula, radicchio, and shaved fennel salad). For dessert, I made my almond lavender honey cake with fresh berries. That menu, plus lovely flowers from Polux Fleuriste, gave us the illusion of spring for a night!
Wednesday night, I cooked for an 18-person dinner party at designer Ernest Alexander's house. My friend Chinae Alexander (no relation to Ernest!) just launched her own events company and she created the most gorgeous spring floral arrangements, and an absolutely stunning table. I made a late-winter, early-spring menu that included a mache salad with roasted baby beets (pictured above!), goat cheese, toasted hazelnuts, and a white Balsamic vinaigrette. For the main course, I made a pork loin with fig-rosemary butter and prosciutto, roasted garlic potato puree, and haricots verts with Dijon-shallot vinaigrette. Then, for dessert, I made my favorite strawberry-rhubarb crumbles (with vanilla gelato). The evening was pure magic, and it was so fun collaborating with friends.
Funny, when you see the pictures I post on Instagram from these dinner parties – perfectly set tables, beautifully-plated food, people toasting each other and having a great time – it all seems so dreamy, right?! And it is...mostly. I'm getting to do what I love: creating beautiful food, feeding people and making memories, and collaborating with friends. What's not pictured are the less-glamorous moments: grocery shopping on foot in Manhattan (sometimes in the rain!) with a zillion bags that have to be hauled up 5 steep flights of steps back to my apartment.
Then, there are the hours of prep in my tiny kitchen (often early in the morning or late at night), the mountains of dishes, the loading up everything (groceries, pots, pans, and tools) into more bags and getting everything back down the stairs and into a car. Then there's the day of the event – more prepping, cooking, plating and serving, and finally more dishes! After everything's clean, I pack up all my stuff, head home, and carry it all back up my stairs late at night, on a total adrenaline high. The next day I wake up with a trashed kitchen, sore muscles, and bags to unload.
I seriously should make a behind-the-scenes video – a day in the life of a private chef. It's absolutely crazy, and yet, somehow, totally addictive. Brandon can tell you: every time I cook for a private event, I say "Never again!" And then I get asked to do another one, and I start dreaming about the menu and the table and get excited and say yes. In fact, I've got another big dinner party next week, in Alexandria, Virginia. And I can't wait.
But enough about dinner parties...I've got big news to share: I got a book deal!!! Sterling, a fantastic NYC-based publisher (who happens to be owned by Barnes & Noble) made me an offer on The Yellow Table a few weeks ago, and I was waiting until everything was finalized to tell you the details. It's almost too good to be true: they love my book as is, so – aside from a few tweaks – we're not really changing anything. And they're reprinting it ASAP, so it will be back on Amazon, as well as in bookstores (and gift stores) around the country in mid-July!! I can't even begin to tell you how overjoyed I am. It's such a relief not to have to oversee printing and distribution anymore. As I mentioned on the blog last month, we had literally put in an order to reprint 5000 more books just moments before Sterling contacted us. Thank goodness they reached out exactly when they did, and not a day later, or we probably would not have been able to get out of our print order.
So stay tuned for more updates, but rest assured that more copies will be available in the coming months! Also, this means that I'll be doing some traveling and book-promoting this summer, and I'd love to meet some of you along the way! If you're interested in receiving updates on book pre-orders or upcoming events, enter in your email address in the little box over on the right (under The Cookbook Diaries) and I'll add you to the mailing list.
Friends, this is truly a testimony that dreams can come true. I can't even count how many rejections I got before this moment came, but it makes it all the sweeter to finally have a publisher really believe in me and my book. I am still so happy that I self-published initially, as I was able to create exactly the book I wanted, and to get it out so much quicker. But now seems the right time to hand my baby off to more capable hands, and start turning my attention to other projects.
Thanks, friends, for sharing in my excitement! You were all a part of this story, and I really wish I could toast each one of you around a big, long table. (Maybe one day!) Have a wonderful weekend, and see you next week!