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Breaking Bread: with 'A Supper Series'

Jara Lopez Sastre Painting
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Breaking Bread: with 'A Supper Series'

To set off to New York City in search of adventure, new experiences, and creative inspiration is a story as old as America, yet those who live in the city often find themselves isolated. Founder Luke Haverty seeks to change this with a simple dinner invite to ‘A Supper Series’, a fusion of food and creative experiences that has expanded from Manhattan to other cities around the world. Participants can expect an evening of artistry - from the culinary creations prepared by talented chefs, to the artistic expression supplied by local painters, sculptors, and musicians. The feeling of togetherness fostered by dining and making art as a community is the fire in which new relationships are often forged at Supper. Whether alone or in a group, participants come away from ‘A Supper Series’ with new friends, relationships, hobbies, and even artistic careers.

I spoke to Luke about ‘A Supper Series’ and why he thinks the combination of art, food, and community is so successful. We delved into the connections made and the inspiration behind the suppers, as well as the global element of dining and creating as a community.

  • What inspired ‘A Supper Series’, and what does having dinner parties mean to you?

LH: I grew up in Kansas, and it was when I moved to New York about four years ago where I quickly realised that it was one of the most creative places in the world. I was meeting people from different backgrounds with interesting talents, but was still mainly hanging out with my buddies from Kansas and work. I wasn’t truly putting myself out there and wanted to cultivate a way to start doing that.

I started by having conversations with friends – my buddy's parents lived in NYC in the 70s and they regularly hosted dinner parties. To this day, they say it was how they built their whole community in New York. The thought that it’s remained relevant to them 50 years later was so inspiring that we started the first supper.

I texted five friends from different friend groups and said to bring one person that no one else knew. I had zero expectations; it was a social experiment. The first one we hosted got great feedback, so the next one was for 60 people because everyone that had gone to the first one started sharing it with their friends. Soon, we began hosting monthly supper clubs.

Suppers' defining moment along the journey came last summer, when we hosted a picnic for 80 people in Central Park. My friend, an up-and-coming musician at the time, was making ends meet working a corporate job but loved sharing her passion for music and had hopes to chase it as a career. We asked her if she would be interested in playing a couple of songs for everybody at the end of the picnic and she loved the idea. The sun was setting and it was this beautiful picturesque landscape — she got up there and jammed out in front of the Supper community. The experience encouraged her to quit her job and go full-time into music. This experience showed us that we have the opportunity to give creatives the ability to share their story, which, in my mind, is why you live in a place like New York. Everyone shares the same struggle of trying to discover and live out their passion. Especially on the front end of a creative journey — giving people the ability to do that can be a beautiful way of pushing them in the right direction. We began collaborating with creative talent at these dinners to not only inspire guests, but to also give creatives a platform.

As it stands today, almost two years later, it's the intersection of culture, community, cuisine, and creativity.

LH: There are a lot of different pieces to it and it has evolved to a much different place from where it began. Five-to-ten years from now, it's going to look completely different as to how it does today too. 

  • How does local culture from city to city inform A Supper Series?

LH: Our hub is New York City but we’ve done dinners in Mexico City, Tokyo, Bali, London, Miami, Los Angeles and we’re actually going to Berlin in a couple of weeks. We’re interested in growing the community wherever we find creative talent to spotlight. It’s been quite the journey so far.

I think our most successful approach in going to new cities is ‘claiming ignorance’. We don't pretend to know the culture, but rather aim to partner and find the right talent that’s local to a given city to showcase its true culture. It gives guests that are coming a breath of the local feel, but also allows local talent to showcase what they're working on. For instance, in Mexico City, we partnered with an incredible artist named Esteban, who did a live painting activation for guests, and partnered with a local chef that used seasonal products and Mexican dishes to portray a meal you might have if you had grown up in CDMX. That’s what we try to do anywhere we go because it’s hard to know what the true culture is. Instead of pretending to know, we find the right people that can accurately represent the culture.

  • How are the food and drink menus curated? 

LH: It varies across geographies and largely depends on what we want the experience to entail. Some Suppers include a full coursed tasting menu, others might just be an edible food activation. For instance, we hosted a ceramics class on a rooftop in West Village a couple of months ago, where we featured a ceramist that guided everyone through the moulding of a mug, bowl, and sculpture. For that, because guests’ hands were dirty, we had a charcuterie table on the back of an art canvas, leaning more into the art activation approach.

  • Most memorable connection made at A Supper Series?

LH: It’s intimidating to meet new people. When I first moved to New York, at times I felt very lonely, which is ironic given there is a ton of chaos and people around.

So we created a place that's welcoming to all that enter – and that now remains one of our core pillars of Supper.

LH: At the first event, I met a friend of a friend, Bernando, who’s one of my best friends today. It’s a recurring theme across our events: ideally, you put yourself out there to be uncomfortable and meet new people, and in turn are rewarded when those relationships stick. I also co-produce with friends around the world so it offers a chance to develop something unique with talented people across the world.. It always takes a village.

We even have couples that have emerged from A Supper Series so that’s definitely been a highlight. There are dating apps, but I truly feel like it's hard to find a place where you can walk into a room and know no one, but still feel comfortable. We try to cultivate that for our guests with an energy that is receptive to people who are a little outside their comfort zone.

  • Most interesting story shared around the dinner table?

LH: The stories of creative features that we’ve worked with along the way. A lot of the time, we will feature value-aligned creatives that are on their own journey. Some are further along the path than others but a lot of them now are doing it full time and doing it very well. Partnering with creatives that are quitting a comfortable lifestyle to chase their given passion is what fills my cup and is a large reason why we do it. That’s one of the biggest takeaways for me.

  • How would you describe the A Supper Series community in a few words?
Genuine connection, a creative community, and bravery.

LH: It’s anxiety-provoking to walk into a room of 50 to 100 strangers, but the goal is to walk away with two or three friends that you might keep in touch with. I always tell people that “It is what you put into it.” You can easily walk into a supper and say, “I'm not going to meet anyone, I’m just going to go, stick to myself, and leave.” But you can also go in with the intention of meeting a potential new friend who can carry memories with you for the rest of your life.

The most important thing is coming in with the right intentions. We've seen people watch a live activation, walk away, and say “Hey, I want to take up painting, or pottery.” Or “Hey, where did you get that film camera?” People can also develop hobbies, it doesn’t mean you need to quit your job. But that’s why you live in a place that pulls in so many different personalities. New York and other cities have so many dense stories to tell, and our end goal is to amplify that.

  • Most underrated restaurant?

LH: In New York, a spot in the East Village called Xe May. It’s a Vietnamese banh mi sandwich place. There’s no indoor seating but it is so good. It’s the most tasty baguette, stuffed with a bunch of refreshing produce and meat. 

  • Go-to dinner party dish?

LH: It depends. I love experiencing local cuisine so I think that would be the catch-all for me. Anything local is a highlight. 

  • Best music genre for a dinner party?

LH: New York jazz never disappoints. NYC is known for its jazz music and so a lot of times, we’ll throw on a playlist with some classical jazz. 

  • Most recent art exhibition that impacted you?

LH: Lobster Club – it’s an exhibit that’s based in LA but hosts pop-ups around the world. My good friends Maja and Tadzio started it; Maja is an artist herself so it's an exhibit for artists, from an artist. They're super unique in that they pull in different kinds of creative concepts. They’ve also taught me the world of art: I’m 10% of the way there but they've been super helpful along the journey of Supper and have been great partners at times too.

  • If a Supper Series had a signature drink, what would it be? 

LH: Maybe an espresso martini, or some sort of spicy marg. That’s probably true for a lot of people - margaritas always hit really well. 

  • If you could have a Supper Series anywhere, where would you choose?

LH: I have a dream of doing a Supper on a mountaintop.. one that requires guests to ski to. That's been a bucket list item.

We’re also doing a European tour next summer so we have some spots that we’re really excited about. We’re planning on hopping around to different cities so there’s definitely going to be some interesting ones. But I think a mountaintop or under the Northern Lights would be beautiful. We can dream.

‘A Supper Series’ grew from an isolated idea in New York, drawing on the connections made at a dinner party fifty years ago. Since then, it has become a powerhouse of artistic expression and the creation of friendships. Its growth and success is a testament to the global importance of breaking bread together. Creativity is fostered only with connection, and in fast-paced cities like New York, eating and creating with others is a necessity that comes only in isolated opportunities. With its emphasis on local culture and fostering creative talent, ‘A Supper Series’ is about humanity itself. It moves across the world, and with a European tour coming up, ‘A Supper Series’ is an event not to be missed. As Luke points out, the series has already been the start of creative careers and lifelong friendships: it might even change your life.  

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