For me, the increased frequency of dinner parties marks another rite of passage into adulthood, which admittedly started about twelve years ago. Many of my friends have graduated to a nicer apartment or even a (gulp) home, with enough space for a dining room table and perhaps a dishwasher. We’ve all attained some kitchen skills that extend beyond boiling water for ramen noodles. The inclination to make Saturday night reservations for ten at the new hot restaurant in town has been replaced by a more genuine urge to share a relaxed evening where friends can actually hear each other over the music. And let’s face it, there is no better time to start downsizing your dining out schedule than right now. Dinner parties may sound fancy, but they needn’t be, especially when everyone brings something to the table. As far as I see, there is only one downside to hosting a dinner party, and that’s the clean-up at the end. Unless you have a few generous guests willing to roll up their sleeves and help with the dishes, you’ve got a hell of a cleanup awaiting.
Last week, I went to an altogether different kind of dinner party, one that managed to feel laid-back and glamorous at once. The hosts, Cindy Krupp and Sidney Prawatyotin of Krupp Group and Jane Herman of Vogue, had a stroke of brilliance and decided to host dinner at someone else’s amazing West Village townhouse. They enlisted the help of a fresh, young catering team called Mamma Duchess to do the food and wine, and Mamma Duchess set them up at 632 Hudson St, a private townhome made available for private parties, events or photo shoots. Voila! You get all the benefits of an intimate dinner party but without any mess or effort.
The Mamma Duchess menu is extensive, focusing on small plates to let the hosts customize their party to be as light (tapas-style) or extravagant (multiple courses) as they want, with pricing that seems very generous for the quality of the food and service they provide. The service they provide seems priceless: the hosts can enjoy a cocktail and their company rather than worry about overcooking the chicken. If a guest enjoys one of the restaurant-worthy dishes, they can go right back into the kitchen and ask “how’d you do that?” Finally, no one is obliged to stay and help clean up after. The food Mamma Duchess put out (the mamma might be misleading as the team is made up of two handsome young men and two incredibly charming, knowledgeable women) was inventive, fresh and completely delicious.
I will always love going out to eat, but dinner parties have gained a whole new meaning for me. Who wants to host next? I’ll bring the wine.
Mamma Duchess: excellent catering from a very cool crew who started it in 2008. They also host cooking classes, where you will learn how to sautee, blanch, poach, and roast your way to kitchen bliss. Classes start at $350 for 1-2 people, and it’s only $50 for each addt’l person. For more info, email them at email@example.com or call 646-920-9064/