How to Throw a Dinner Party: The Culinistas

3 years ago by

Sure, Nourishment is a lot about the food, but you know what it’s also about, gathering around said food. I think a lot about food as the excuse to gather. I’ll be honest, as a team we’re not always the best about taking the time to have a proper lunch and talk about anything other than work. So when Jill Donenfeld and Tiana Tenet from The Culinistas suggested a team lunch, well how could we say no?

The Culinistas provide in-home private chef services for either weekly home cooking or intermittent special occasions. You can learn more about them and their services here

The Culinistas share their thoughts on nourishment and three recipes the Atelier taste tested and HIGHLY approve. Seriously, we all just recounted the lunch with fondest of memories that all revolved around the food!



How to Throw a Dinner Party: The Culinistas

What inspired The Culinistas?
Our backgrounds are diverse; we’ve collectively honed our skills in many facets of this company from culinary development to business opps. When we met, we saw the value of high touch in-home chef services, structured to support and scale an incredible group of hard working chefs and staff. We are servicing a growing need for healthy, home-cooked meals that households strapped for time don’t have time to prep themselves.

Why is gathering around a table so important to you?
We both grew up eating around the dinner table with our families, and understand the value of that time spent engaging with each other. Joy, angst, collaboration, reconciliation, and celebration all happen with interaction; learning about these feelings and processing them through the love of family & friends is vital. We believe this time spent together fosters a lifetime of thoughtful, insightful interactions.

What do you tell people who are intimidated by throwing a dinner party?
Don’t be! That’s why we are here! Ultimately, your friends are coming over to have fun and spend time with you. As long as you focus on the same goal, it will be a success. Let us handle the menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking, serving, and cleaning. If you’re into DIYing, plan a menu that is mostly make ahead recipes and items that are best served at room temperature.

How to Throw a Dinner Party: The Culinistas

How much do you prep ahead and how much do you improvise in the moment?
The ballet of our services is that we recognize the interplay of client, chef, and kitchen. We develop recipes in house that we customize to leverage the specificity that is naturally part of every unique dinner party. We prep ahead in that we listen to our clients, consider pacing, atmosphere, and culinary preferences, plan menus, and staff chefs who will best realize each client’s desires. And once that foundation is laid, being receptive and improvising is a necessity. We always have an end vision of delicious and work backwards from there. That’s what keeps it all interesting.

Best dinner party you’ve ever been to? Or thrown? What was so memorable about it?
We’ve co-hosted some incredible parties this year. One of our favorites was with Joey Wolffer and Max Bonbrest on the east end. Everything sang: the menu highlighted summer’s peak produce, the ambiance, which Joey created with eclectic textiles, lights, and furniture in her backyard, was elegant and relaxed, we had Wolffer rosé and Casa Dragones chilled on ice, and the guest list was a cool mix of entrepreneurs and artists across industries.

What does ‘Nourishment‘ mean to you? How do you nourish yourselves, with food or otherwise?
Eating together, with friends & family. Most. Nourishing. Thing. Ever. As founders, we are pretty go go go in the last couple years, but we also value getting out in the sunshine, being active, and catching up on sleep on the weekend.



Couscous & Clover

Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes

0.5 cup pearled couscous
2 cups English peas, shelled
0.75 cup plus 2 tablespoons pepitas, divided
1 cup pea tendrils, plus more for garnish
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
0.5 teaspoon cumin, ground
0.5 teaspoon onion powder
0.5 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
0.5 fresno chili, seeded, minced
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. In a pot of salted boiling water, cook couscous until tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Strain and
drizzle with oil. Set aside in a large bowl.
2. In the same pot, boil a new batch of salted water. Blanch the peas until they’re cooked
all the way through, 3 to 5 minutes. Strain, shock, and add to couscous.
3. In a food processor, add 1?2 cup pepitas, pea tendrils, lemon juice, zest, cumin and onion
powder. While the motor is running, stream in oil and blend to a chunky sauce. Season
with salt and pepper. Set aside.
4. Add 1?4 cup pepitas and fresno to couscous and peas. Dress the mixture with pesto and
transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with pea tendrils, remaining pepitas and a few thin
slices of Fresno chili.

How to Throw a Dinner Party: The Culinistas

Romesco Romanesco

Serves 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

1 small head romanesco, broken down into small florets
0.75 cup olive oil, divided
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded, chopped
2 small carrots, peeled, chopped
0.5 teaspoon cumin, ground
0.5 teaspoon onion powder
0.25 teaspoon cayenne
0.5 cup hazelnuts, toasted, chopped, divided
2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
Salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Carrot top leaves, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 350o.
2. In a large bowl, coat romanesco with 1?4 cup oil, salt and pepper. Transfer to a
parchment-lined baking sheet and roast until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, coat pepper and carrot with 1?4 cup oil, cumin, onion, salt, pepper.
Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and cover with foil. Roast until tender, 15
minutes, and let cool to room temperature.
4. In a food processor, add roasted pepper/carrot mixture, 1?4 cup hazelnuts and 1
tablespoon vinegar. While the motor is running, stream in the remaining 1?4 cup oil and
adjust seasoning with remaining vinegar, salt and pepper. Blend to a smooth sauce.
5. In the center of a serving platter, spoon the blended sauce evenly. Pile the roasted
romanesco on top and garnish with remaining hazelnuts and carrot top leaves.

How to Throw a Dinner Party: The Culinistas

Poached Salmon & Scallion Chutney

Serves 4
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes

2.25 cups olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon salt
Four 5-ounce wild salmon fillets, skin & pin bones removed
0.5 cup Thompson raisins
6 scallions, divided
2 tablespoons lemon zest
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon urfa chile, plus more for garnish

1. In a deep saute pan, bring 2 cups oil and salt to 120oF. Add salmon and poach to
medium-rare doneness, 15 to 17 minutes. Transfer poached salmon on top of a paper
towel-lined plate. Set aside.
2. In a small bowl, cover raisins with warm water and set aside to rehydrate.
3. In a heavy-bottomed skillet, char 4 scallions to a deep, almost burned color on each
side, 10 minutes. Transfer charred scallions to a food processor and add 1?4 cup
rehydrated and drained raisins, lemon zest, lemon juice and urfa. While the motor is
running, stream in remaining 1?4 cup oil. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Transfer the salmon to a serving platter and spoon scallion sauce over each piece.
Thinly slice remaining scallion greens on a bias and garnish on top of the salmon along with remaining rehydrated raisins and urfa.

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