The art of the perfect dinner party

Natalie Hayllar of Eat, Read, Love shares her secrets for social dining with a special something.

Natalie Hayllar of Eat, Read, Love is a lifestyle blogger providing daily inspiration along the delicious themes of food, travel, design and books. With such a discerning eye, she’s finding a growing audience for her pop-up dinners that unite like-minded creative types over a meal and a chat.

Here, Natalie shares a little more about the key ingredients of these social dining ventures.

What are the key ingredients of social dining?

Firstly the unique location – one the most exciting parts of creating a social gathering is when you find ‘the’ location. Everything flows from there. Second is the food. And last but not least, the guests and their passion. I love to bring together an eclectic mix of people – old friends, new friends, others who may have met online and finally get to meet face to face. It’s a real buzz. New collaborations spring to life at the table, and creative ideas flow during and long after the event.

Tell us about the Kinfolk dinner series and your role as host. 

In addition to my pop up dinner series, I have been hosting the Kinfolk Magazine dinners down under for two years. I started out hosting a few events in 2013 with friends Luisa Brimble and Jaclyn Carlson. I was then invited to launch the Kinfolk Cookbook, and from there I have been doing all of the events in Sydney.

As a host we are given a date and a theme from Kinfolk in the USA. It is then up to me to seek out event partners to create something magical. I often collaborate with a special team of people that I love including stylist Lisa Madigan and caterer Marios Kitchen. Together we set about to find a beautiful and unique location and it all cascades from there. 

 

“I love to bring together an eclectic mix of people. New collaborations spring to life at the table, and creative ideas flow during and long after the event.”

 

What is it about good food and a beautiful setting that unites strangers?

Everyone loves a fabulous meal and a little bit of styling magic. But I firmly believe it is the promise of new connections that attracts many to the table. Many of my guests are freelance creatives, bloggers and business owners who often work alone, and love the opportunity to come together with like-minded people over a meal.  I think while many of us have found our tribe on Instagram, we are genuinely ‘people people’ at heart and love to get away from our desks and phones and meet in person sometimes.

Most memorable pop up dinners you’ve been involved in?

It’s hard to choose as I have loved them all. The first one in Balmain Wharf was pretty special as it was the start of an exciting new chapter for me and the blog. Sitting alongside my favourite Australian author Belinda Alexandra over a meal in Watson’s Bay was a pretty fabulous ‘pinch me’ moment. It would be hard to beat my most recent pop up dinner series in Bali which began with a picnic in the rice fields and ended with an intimate tropical style dinner at the stunning Villa Sungai. I hope to replicate this concept in other parts of the world sooner rather than later. 

Why do you think social dining has taken off as a concept?

The need for people to connect and the opportunity to meet fellow bloggers, photographers or Instagrammers in person, perhaps sit next to your favourite chef or foodie, or just join in a new conversion and be inspired. 

What are your future plans for Eat, Read, Love? 

Eat, Read, Love will continue to be a friendly hub where new social connections can be made, and an opportunity for creative collaborations to take place both online and offline. I plan to celebrate the success of Aussie creatives – we have so much talent right here that must be shared. I have some wonderful social gathering concepts in the pipeline for this year, hopefully giving people outside of Sydney a chance to attend also. Stay tuned.  

Tell us about your own foodie philosophy

I have had a love affair with food for the past twenty years. I am a qualified dietitian, but don’t believe that means missing out on the good things. No diets for me – just smaller portions and fresh ingredients. I certainly think the French have got it right!

Dream location for a pop up dining event?

Paris of course…

Get your daily dose of food and design inspiration and hear about upcoming pop up dinners at eatreadlove.com

(Images: Luisa Brimble, Rachel Kara)

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