This spring, Darling hosted a three-part dinner series in collaboration with Lou & Grey. The dinners took place in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago, each one held with the intention of bringing together creative-minded women in that city. Gathering around the table for a meal has always been a way to cultivate community for centuries and we wanted to do the same by hosting evenings of nourishment, both for the body and the soul.
The series began in Los Angeles at Platform LA, a collection of unique businesses and eateries. We occupied the Lightbox, a light filled penthouse space overlooking the city, which provided an inviting atmosphere for guests to mingle. Guests arrived as the sun was setting and began the evening with some wine and nibbles provided by Cannibal LA. Many lingered around a large farm table in the center of the room adorned with candles, lovely flower arrangements by Chelsea Carter and romantic place settings by Dish Wish.
After mingling, guests took their seats and began the family-style dinner by Cannibal LA. Plates were filled with delicious salad starters and charcuterie boards running along the center of the table, piled high with charcuterie and delicious cheeses.
Editor-in-Chief Sarah Dubbeldam began the table conversation. “What makes you fierce?” and immediately after, small groups formed and the room began buzzing with self-reflection and encouragement as women evaluated ways that fierceness emanated in their own lives.
The urban loft felt more and more like a living room as the women occupying it transformed the space into a haven of safety and empowerment. Uncertainties were shared regarding occupations, behavioral expectations and overall life direction. Whether caught in the routine of the work world, bound by the uncertainties of freelancing, or simply attempting to find a unique voice among the multitudes of “should be’s,” women helped each other find their power and encouraged one another to own that power.
As the evening winded down, guests were still fully engaged in conversation, unable to pull away from the empowering atmosphere. Deep, lasting connections were forged around the dinner table thanks to curated conversation and the vulnerability of guests.
The next stop on the Lou & Grey x Darling Dinner series was at the beautiful Joule Hotel in Dallas. We designed an al fresco dinner at the delicious Americano restaurant and feasted on arancini, a crisp mixed green salad, linguine rock shrimp scampi, Kansas City strip steak and wood fire mushroom pizza, all while sipping Stolpman Vineyards Sangiovese. The retro table settings were adorned with yellow and white flower arrangements by Chelsea Carter to compliment the retro vibe of the patio.
Over dinner we asked questions like, “do you struggle with being authentic” and women instantly looked within and opened up about their struggles. We then served an authentic Italian tiramisu and continued to sip wine and share our hearts with each other into the evening. It was truly a magical night.
Next up was the legendary cocktail bar, The Broken Shaker at the Freehand Hotel in Chicago. The Broken Shaker was the perfect choice for our intimate dinner party – it reminded our guests of a trendy home in the 70’s with octopus sketches on the walls, dark mood lighting, vintage rugs and wood tables. It provided the perfect canvas for our dinner and our guests enjoyed sipping delicious craft cocktails.
On the cocktail menu was:
Rosemary, clementine reduction and citrus shaken with cointreau and vodka topped with soda
ST. V.D.M. Margarita
Spicy blood orange winter green sangrita with olmeca altos tequila and mezcal vida, adorned with spicy herb salt
Log Cabin Old Fashioned
Hickory maple stirred with old forester bourbon, mellow corn whiskey and bacon bitters finished with smoked orange
The ladies dove deep into conversation over a family style meal comprised of chorizo deviled eggs, roasted cauliflower with ancient grains, picked red onion and cucumber with a local green salad and seared Spanish octopus with salsa verde. The mouthwatering meal was topped off with strawberry and rhubarb crumble and homemade ice cream.
The night was truly one for the books, the ladies didn’t want to leave and we closed down the Broken Shaker sipping cocktails and bonding with on another over our fears and goals, while affirming and encouraging each other to pursue our dreams.