You Are Who You Eat With

“I’m always enchanted by being in a situation where you don’t know who you’re going to meet,” said Fern Mallis in today’s Style Section of the New York Times.

Mallis, along with an impressive Rolodex of names you know and perhaps those you should, ate at the communal table of a young man named Jonathan Levy last month. Levy is garnering his own kind of name for these bi-monthly dinner parties. According to the article, he gets 12 or so influencing individuals with impressive resumes together for dinner at his home. They’re instructed to conceal their professions during the cocktail hour and mingle without pretense. Then, during the meal, Levy instructs the diners one by one to guess who does what.

Though the reporter touched on a few tense moments where certain guests didn’t mesh particularly well and noted that Fern Mallis was a bit annoyed at having to do her own dishes (Levy, it seems, likes to put his dinner party to work — perhaps to keep everyone on the same playing field) I found the concept fascinating.

The idea of hosting a meal as the evening’s activity is nothing new. In fact, it’s incredibly old school — especially the idea of sitting strangers next to one another. But at age 25 I’ve only been to one real dinner party and I can’t help but feel enchanted (to steal Mallis’s word) by the concept of them. It seems so old New York; the idea that you could sit down at a table and if seated next to the right person your life could in some way change. And as soon as I own an apartment that can fit more than one Ikea ottoman, I’m going to host my own.

What are your thoughts on dinner parties? Are you going to them, hosting them, hate them, love them? What do you think about Levy’s concept of inviting influencers only, and having them go incognito until the food is served?

It’s just about lunch time here in Manhattan so if you write your comments while you eat your sandwich, I’ll devour my burger and we can pretend like we’re having our very own party right here on Man Repeller. Maybe we can get Leandra to make the salad?

  • Aubrey Green

    I LOVE this concept, I think it is great in every way. I think not always having influencers would be great too, maybe mix it up a little more… I go to Shabbat dinner every Friday night at my Rabbi’s, there is always at-least one new person and the conversations are always great and fascinating, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it – I think for any night, there is nothing better! I like the idea of having a seating chart and sitting people next to people they don’t know, I think that is always fun; I suppose that can end badly if two people don’t get a long…it sort of weeds out the party poopers though, right?

  • Albatross

    I used to host monthly potlucks at college where I’d invite different and disparate groups of friends together for a dinner. They all seemed to like it and it was always lively. One or two started going out with each other etc. There’s nothing like a convivial atmosphere and libations of various types to get the party started.

  • Rebeka Osborne

    I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a dinner party like this (with more than just a few of my friends). It seems wonderful and I’m with you, as soon as I have an apartment big enough to fit just me I’m totally throwing one.

  • Amatoria Clothing

    I grew up with dinner parties. I was the young kid who liked to listen to the adults discussing the meaning of life at the table. I would love to throw a dinner party.
    Unfortunately, I do not like to cook. It’s not so much the cooking, but everything involved. Figuring out what to cook, buying groceries, making the house spotless, preparing the food, setting the table, hosting, and then cleaning up! Even typing all that is exhausting!
    So please, come on over, but I will probably have to cater.

  • Denise

    This is fascinating. However, the leader Jon Levy isn’t that extraordinary and notable working in marketing. More power to him for being able to get incredible people together. However, he should do more with this concept. He should have events that bring notable people together and also open it up to the public, so that the public can learn from them. Universities provide events like that. There are cultural events. It shouldn’t be so closed-off and private. That’s not conducive to progress in society.

  • lefukaka

    “Influencers only”…In the words of Kanye, is “classism”. Wouldn’t it be far more interesting to have random people from all walks of life rather than a dinner for people who are already top tier. If the idea is to really sit down next to people who can benefit or add to your life, it makes little sense to sit in your own class circle. Also, having people wash their own dishes is uber tacky. Do it yourself or hire someone to do it if you must, but having guests do house cleaning is not very enchanting!