Host Highlight: Sarah Wood
"Then, in the weeks after, I kept running into the women about town and that was magical. It made me feel like I was part of a community and that I was no longer an island."
Originally from a small town in Michigan, I moved to New York after college and then to Barcelona, Spain from there. I’m currently living and hosting in Edinburgh, Scotland.
I’m always thinking about cultural and interior trends as a writer who has written for The New York Times, The Cut, Refinery29, Insider, Architectural Digest, and Apartment Therapy. My 9-5 is as an operations leader at a tech company based out of the US, and my 5-9 is filled with hosting events, writing (my newsletter and a book draft!), and dreaming up Royal Circus, a homewares brand inspired by bold and bright Scottish interiors.
Warm, Vibrant & Energizing.
Newness was my favorite theme, because it was just vague enough that it left room for interpretation. I think some 30+ people applied to come, which was so fab, all pepole who felt that there was a moment of newness occurring in their lives. The dinner was the first event I had hosted in Edinburgh, having just moved a month before. Then, in the weeks after, I kept running into the women about town and that was magical. It made me feel like I was part of a community and that I was no longer an island.
One of my wins from the Newness & The Table dinner party was that two of the women (Sierra & Marina) who met at the event now work together and collaborate on social media marketing together. There is nothing more magical than watching creative people come together and make beautiful things happen.
350g Spaghetti Pasta (A minimalist dish always benefits from homemade pasta. Or at least splurge on the good pasta at the grocery store)
A healthy glug of extra virgin olive oil + more for serving (about 2-3 tbsp)
Handful of parsley plus more for serving
Zest entire lemon
Juice entire lemon
2 garlic cloves thinly sliced
1 tsp Chili flakes
2-3 oz shredded parmesan cheese (shred in advance)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
*Chef’s note: prep everything in advance. This recipe comes together quickly and you want to be giving all your attention to the consistency of the pasta sauce - rather than trying to prep ingredients on the fly.
*Chef’s note #2: Minimalist dishes require maximum ingredient quality. Splurge on the good stuff wherever you can in this recipe - it goes a long way!
Add pasta to a pot of boiling water. Ensure pasta water is about as salty as the sea.
Add a healthy glug of olive oil to a high-sided skillet on low-med heat. Add garlic, chili flakes and lemon zest while the oil is still cold. Add a few twists of FGBP. Cook for 3-5 minutes and stir occasionally.
Toss pasta in the skillet when it is very al dente. About 1-2 min shy of its recommended cooking time.
Toss until pasta is coated in the sauce
Turn the heat low and add lemon juice (start small and adjust depending on lemon-y you feel that day)
Add chopped parsley
Add parmesan gradually as you toss the pasta. Take your time with this to avoid creating a Parmesan blob.
Gradually add pasta water as you toss and stir the pasta to emulsify everything and achieve the creamy luscious consistency of summer love.
Too thick? Add more pasta water
Too thin? Add more parmesan
Aim to make it a little thinner than you think it should be (it will thicken as it cools)
Garnish as your heart desires. Extra parsley, Parmigiano, freshly ground black pepper, lemon zest, a drizzle of olive oil - the heart wants what it wants!
Serve immediately and enjoy in good company!!
For me, I’ve always chosen a theme that helped meet a need in my own life. While this sounds self-serving (because it is lol!), doing so made sure I was genuinely pumped for the dinner and it made my enthusiasm contagious because it was unforced.
For example, I really wanted to meet fellow writers in Edinburgh and I hosted a Writers & The Table dinner which brought so many creative women in Edinburgh out of the woodwork that I would have never met in my day-to-day life. I think it’s good to have a specific theme or intention that you want to gather people around and stick to it, because it will make the gathering more fruitful for the other people who come as well. That meant welcoming people who were writers, however they defined writing be it copywriting or poetry, but declining people who didn’t do any kind of writing who had wanted to attend. By staying true to the purpose of gathering, our conversations were able to really go deep on the nuances of query letters and publishing processes, which made it deeply helpful.
Smaller is better! I used to host enormous dinner parties in Barcelona, cramming anyone and everyone I met around my dining room table. Sticking to the six guest maximum format of & The Table has been eye-opening, because it shows that bigger is not necessarily better. Having less people means that there is more space for each of us to speak and contribute. I love the intimate vibes that come from an & The Table gathering.