Supper Club: April and Life’s Work

Spring is officially here but the weather has been mixed.  For April’s Supper Club with M and T, I looked through my pantry and fridge, and decided on an Indian menu.  My friend had given me a loads of Indian spices and this best-selling cookbook by Camellia Panjabi, 50 Great Curries of India.

Menu: I had a butternut squash that I was anxious to use so decided on a soup, and I have always been a fan of chaats, and of course thought a curry would be mandatory.

Indian-Scented Butternut Squash Soup
Chickpea Chaat
Shahi Paneer with Basmati Rice

Drink: Sauvignon blanc

Dessert: Royce chocolates

Conversation: Changing careers mid-career

“How did you get to where you are?”

When I was working in television entertainment, I often tell the story about how students from my alma maters would ask how I got my job as a digital executive. My response was that I just followed my passions and trusted my instincts. I studied history as an undergraduate; worked in publishing in Tokyo; moved to Palo Alto for grad school; and moved to New York to join a start-up in fine art e-commerce (that went bust), then worked for Esther Dyson, and married my love for music with a gig at AOL; and then landed at Bravo where my other loves for food and fashion and pop culture were able to be fused with my by-then-kinda-long career in digital. But after many years making a living in the digital space, I hungered to get back to basics and knew that food was the direction I wanted to face. I took courses at the International Culinary Institute, and learned about plant-based nutrition and plant-based baking from Matthew Kenney Culinary. And now I am trying my hand at writing about my love of cooking, eating, and dining.

Not exactly a normal career path.

My Supper Club friends have been working all their lives but have also taken seemingly non-sequitur turns in their careers. When I met M in Tokyo, she was a news television anchor, and then went to business school, and started her career in finance. She’s looking to fuse her background with more pro-social causes now.

And T was and still is a fashion designer, producing beautiful natural fiber pieces, but she also went back to school and got her MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History from Christie’s as well as an MBA. She is now a private art advisor and curator, as well an educator.

Also, not exactly normal career paths.

We talked about the challenges of making new moves in our careers. You end up spending a lot of time explaining the shifts and weaving the right narrative to those parties who are not used to non-traditional career journeys. And we look to each other for advice, guidance and recommendations in our respective next steps. Just having open non-judge-y ears is so refreshing.

Life teaches us much and I feel that if we are truly paying attention, we would bend and grow in different directions throughout it.

Supper Club: March and Mean Girls

Two of my oldest and dearest friends (M and T) and I started calendaring regular dinners to make sure that too many months would not go by without us reconnecting.  At first, we would pick restaurants based more on location on the day that worked for us all, so sometimes we would meet for acceptable pasta at Serafina, or try a new plant-based pizzeria because we were all curious, or splurging at Gabriel Kreuther to celebrate our birthdays.

When I left my corporate run in digital entertainment, I had more time on my hand and since I have always enjoyed cooking, I thought maybe we could eat-in versus go out. Somewhere along the way, we started to meet at M’s apartment which was sort of equidistant from myself and T, and M had the place to herself which meant we could talk freely and linger as long as we all wanted.  M is the sommelier amongst us so she would usually provide the wine; T plays sous-chef and brings a course like dessert or makes a side dish though she would usually also bring a bottle of something recommended from her favorite local wine seller. And I would set the menu and prepare the meal.

I absolutely love thinking up menus for dinner parties.   The parameters for these friends includes M being a pescatarian, and while T is an omnivore, she is allergic to scallops, crabs and shrimp, though clams are ok! I usually have to ask her of this list every month though now after several years, I finally remember.

I wanted to share our Supper Club ritual because it’s a wonderful way for friends to connect on a regular basis. We cover the gamut on topics as we cook, eat and drink.

Menu: I have been lamenting no longer having a favorite place to go for chirashizushi and so decided to put in on the menu.  Also, it was timely in that Hinamatsuri (Girls’ or Doll) Festival is on March 3 and it is common to serve this dish. My mom had given me some Japanese boxed containers and so I mixed and matched a few to make one big box of sashimi, and then we each had our own box. I also made a side dish of kimpira gobo.

Assorted Sashimi
Individual Chirashi Box
Kimpira Gobo

Drink: sake, of course.

Dessert: wagashi or Japanese sweets. My husband got me a box of specialty confections (mochi, kumquat, sweet bean paste) from Minamoto Kitchoan and I had no business eating the entire thing. Supper Club is also a great way to share (and save myself) from candy.

Conversation: Mean Girls

This last supper club, we talked about ‘mean girls’ and being at a place where we are okay with icing them out of our lives.  The motives are not sometimes clear and the tormenting or aggressive bully-like behavior happen over a period of time.

We each shared stories about surprising betrayals, intent, and workplace bullying.

Relationships are fragile enough things and we know how emotional pain can be the hardest to overcome. Unless they are family, cutting off bad relationships are a natural part of life.  Like a plant, you need make sure to give relationships enough water and light for growth. And you need to prune the dead leaves and branches. Good riddance to ‘mean girls’ and cheers to making time to spend with quality friends.