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  • Hawaii Cupcake Factory

    I read this post and watch the video, I was touched, I cried and then I laughed and then something BETTER HAPPENED. I want to first say thank you Carla for this piece, it means so much to me and have lifted a great burden from my heart and then it gave me such a light bulb moment that I had to go check out your campaign on Indiegogo of which I will support but first let me tell you this very important part. I lost my baby brother on Good Friday this year in New York due to a taxi driver, I screamed and cried for days, I was a mess, he is a chef like me, talking about the perfect partner in business, me a pastry chef and him a culinary chef, so my plans was for the perfect family restaurant where I was the Executive Pastry Chef and he the Executive Chef, we both went to culinary school late in our life to pursue our passion. Unfortunately I lost him before we could raise the money and open our restaurant Hawaii Cupcake Factory. Now I am getting ready to launch my kickstarter to raise the funds for this unique restaurant and I kept trying to find a way to make him live on via the restaurant, I felt like naming it after him Dale, that was not good enough because then no one would know unless one day I am interviewed, neither just naming an item on the menu would be enough and for months now I have been trying to figure out how to carry him into the restaurant without it being morbid BUT NOW I KNOW HOW and you just told me how to do it. I will create a specific private dining area in this restaurant and every other one I open hereafter specifically to host Dinner Parties exactly like what you are doing here, so I will name that room Dale's Lounge and it will be reserved for this specifically to celebrate life. I would like for my family restaurant to be one of the list of places where your followers can gather over great food catered by our restaurant and they will receive special pricing for this. I really want to be a part of this Dinner Pastry Movement and I really hope your campaign is a success. Thank you again for this, this is the perfect way to keep him alive for everyone to know, he was in my life for a short time because I only got to know him when we were in our late 20's as I did not know my dad had other kids outside of my mom but he had a spirit that just made you love him and he was very, very dear to me ever since I got to know him, I have 4 kids and this uncle they love dearly and miss so much. Some times at dinner we would laugh at all the jokes he would tell the kids and they would remember how he had these little plastic soldiers his prize collection and how he took it out for his nephew to play with when they were little. We use to have cooking competition in our home it was always interesting because he was of Jamaican decent and I am of Hispanic decent so very interesting flavor combination. Please everyone support this campaign and tweet it out and facebook, it really deserves it place, it helps a lot of people like me. Again thank you from the bottom of my heart thank you for giving me this much needed light bulb moment on how to honor my brother.

  • Anna

    This is such a beautiful story and use of food - meals bring us together, no matter what the subject, and give us a space to share. Which of course often allows us to talk about topics we would otherwise be afraid to address. We need more of this for sure!

  • tconley.energybabe

    I forgot an important point in the long rambling I just had and that was I GOT IN BIG TROUBLE for expressing my thoughts on talking about illness or death with my grandaughter. My family is now talking about some of these issues (no sweeping it under the rug for this grandma!) so we can learn that it is OKAY TO FEEL AND TO SHARE OUR FEELINGS!!

    • Carla Fernandez

      Thank you so much for sharing your story. Let's make you "No sweeping it under the rug for this grandma" t-shirts. Sounds like you're in a position to be a great role model for your family, and encourage people to have those hard conversations - maybe a Dinner Party within your family is a way to break the ice?

  • tconley.energybabe

    Wow, How enlightening. Several months ago my 9 yr. old grandaughter brought up to me a concern she had heard about within the family regarding her grandfather (my ex-husband) and a medical "incident" he had. She explained that no one was to speak about it, because what if he DIED??!! I gave her my opinion on how we should embrace illness and death, which is, WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT IT, SHARE OUR FEELINGS. I guess I am that way NOW, because when my mother died when I was 15 yrs. old, all of her belongings were swept away and she was never talked about. It was almost as if she never lived. I never realized the impact that had on me or what the impact was until I realized that as a mother, I kept the "bad" things going in life away from my children. I didn't come to realize until I was about 47 yrs old, when I went off to a center to heal, to strip back my layers of me, to figure myself out, that the reason I did that was because 1. I didn't want to feel my pain 2. So those that I loved would be happy and never leave me. That is called having abandonment issues. :-) The ramifications of my "let's not let the children know" parenting came when I divorced their father after almost 30 yrs. of marriage. A wave of pain (still felt after 5 yrs.) by my adult children (2 daughters, 2 sons) and seemingly directed at me has caused many, many IMPORTANT lessons to be learned by each of us. I could write a book (maybe I should) about the still ongoing (but getting much closer to healed) relationship building lessons we are learning. I think the DINNER PARTY is an excellent thing and one that should be shared with those of us who have not lost someone yet and do not understand what it is like. Just like UNEMPLOYMENT.. but that is another story. Congratulations and thank you for sharing such a GOOD THING!!

  • JEinDC

    Four of us meet every other month and have since our friend, Sally, died too young of cancer. The concept is a bit different tho' the same purpose. Among our 4, there were 2 friendships and others who didn't know the others. We committed, during those long days sitting at our friend's bedside in the hospital, to being there for each other. Is it possible to join in with this and have dinner out? Or to co-host at someone else's if your place is too small or not conducive?

    • Carla Fernandez

      Wow, what an amazing commitment to one another and a way of honoring your friend. Sounds like a screenplay in the making :)

      I would love to join or co-host. carla@thedinnerparty.org

  • Alessandra Rizzotti

    I always have tied food to family- and life cycles (birth, bat/bar mitzvahs, marriage, death). I think it would be fascinating to conduct dinners like life cycles by perhaps serving food in different stages of growth. Would love to know what types of food you suggest serving- or if it's more like a potluck. Have you guys collaborated with Thank You for Coming?

    • Carla Fernandez

      Nice, I love all of this. So our dinners are all potlucks - there's something special about everyone bringing a dish to the table, and introducing themselves in some way through what they bring - whether its a family recipe, or a six-pack they picked up at the corner store. It also makes dinner prep easier for our hosts :) We use Dinner Parties to connect over life after loss - but you could also initiate a conversation around any rite of passage - birth, marriage, etc. Fun to think of how dishes can be a part of the story telling beyond just family recipes. And yes! We've hosted a dinner in the backyard of Thank you For Coming - they're friends and a big inspiration for us.

      • Alessandra Rizzotti

        Wonderful. Would love to join a dinner, but I haven't lost a parent recently. Wondering if you ever invite people who just want to be a part of the experience or is that too weird?

  • Joshua Neuman

    I think you guys are definitely onto something. Was thinking about Margaret Visser's The Rituals of Dinner, which you should read. Death and dinner have a pretty fascinating and complex relationship going back many, many years...

    • Carla Fernandez

      Thanks Joshua! Visser's The Rituals of Dinner is currently in my to-read stack ... but I'm moving it to the top, thanks to you!

  • Hillary Newman

    I love this idea! At it's core, sitting around a dinner table with friends is such a simple way to connect. When I think about my favorite traditions, they often revolve around sharing a meal with friends and family. Excited to watch you guys evolve!

    • Carla Fernandez

      Thanks Hillie! At its core, that simple act of sitting down and sharing a meal is at the core of what we're all about - creating that warm and inviting space where people can fill their bellies, loosen their ties and tongues, and get into topics that are taboo but itching to come out.