Earlier this month I took my parents to Spain without leaving my apartment.
Anyone who knows me, knows that Spain is a country that has had an enormous influence on my life, and so I wanted to create a culinary experience that reflected my relationship with the country and culture, and also told the story of my travels throughout the country.
While I easily could have invited my parents to one of the many Spanish restaurants in New York, they would have been exposed to someone else's vision - but I wanted to show them my Spain, and so I got to work crafting a menu.
The menu included: tortilla espanola, gazpacho, paella, montaditos of mangecho cheese and fig jam, and an assortment of fresh fruit.
While the menu might sound very typical, each of the items prepared had a story behind them: the tortilla was a recipe I got from an old roommate, the paella a recipe I used to cook weekly with friends when I lived in Barcelona, fig jam a tribute to when I lived in Extremadura (a region famous for growing figs), and the gazpacho (while I am ashamed to say it was the one thing I didn't make homemade) was the same brand that I drink almost daily while I am in Spain.
By creating a menu reflective of my own memories and experiences, I was able to tell the stories of my travels and time abroad over different plates and courses. Also, by preparing everything myself, I had full control over the way things were served, and the ingredients used, making the menu much more authentic to my story.
Hosting guests (no matter how big or small the crowd) is all about creating an experience. It is much like producing art, where you have this incredible opportunity to express yourself through through a medium that you can make uniquely yours.
Whenever you host a meal, let the creation of the experience be your platform to tell a story. Hosting is not just about serving a few dishes - it's about transporting yourself and your guests someplace special and unforgettable.