In 2 weeks, 66 people committed to a luncheon at Casa Lever. 35 of those people I invited directly; the rest were friends of my friends.
When everyone was seated, I explained that the lunch was the first of a long series of bi-monthly events to which invited guests would be encouraged to bring their friends. All events revolve around art and food, as I believe those two things best bring people together.
I explained that I was creating something that I wished had existed when I was a financial analyst spending 15 hours a day in Excel, immediately after graduating from Columbia, where I was taught to express myself through the arts and applaud those who had changed the world by doing so before me. Though I confess that most of what I said when I stood up in front of that crowded room is now a blur, there was definitely applause after I alluded to the contrast between a liberal arts education and what (for many) follows it.
The venue was perfect. A friend who previously worked at the Warhol Foundation engaged the group with a lecture on Warhol's oeuvre. Moreover, the food was exquisite. And people left asking each other, "will you be at the next one?"
The turn out and reception showed that this idea resonated deeply -- and that people are in fact EXCITED to meet friends of friends in settings that are intellectually engaging.
And... because I assume all my readers are epicurean, here are the menu and some food pics :)
Appetizer: choice of
CRISPY ORGANIC EGG
five mushrooms, five ways
MELANZANE ALLA PARMIGIANA
baked eggplant, tomato, melted mozzarella di bufala
mostarda di cremona, mushrooms, 36 month aged parmigiano reggiano
CASA LEVER SALAD
organic mixed greens, mozzarella di bufala, olives, avocado,
HOUSE CURED SALMON CARPACCIO
roasted kabocha squash, crème fraîche, salmon roe, peperoncino oil
Main Course: choice of
poached egg, hollandaise sauce, tirolian speck, spinach
CAPPELLACCI DI RICOTTA
tomato confit battuta, sautéed swiss chard, liquid mozzarella
cav. cocco tagliatelle, veal ragù
ROASTED GREEN CIRCLE CHICKEN
butternut squash, pickled carrots, autumn seeds, peperoncino glaze
SEARED SCOTTISH SALMON
beluga lentils, leek sugo, salmon roe
Dessert: choice of
GIANDUIA, gianduia, gianduia
WARM CHEESECAKE , BBQ strawberry , Strega liqueur, rosemary milk chocolate sauce
BOWL OF PROFITEROLES chantilly, Marsala zabayon, chocolate gelato, vanilla