To me, the goals of design and of hospitality are the same: caring for people.
I love working with friends to create surprising experiences through food. I've even served a few strangers at pop-ups over the years.
When I moved to India in 2015 I was surprised to find that many Indian dishes shared spices and aromas with the Mexican food I had grown up eating with my extended family in Texas. Four months later, two friends and I started a pop-up small supper club in my Mumbai flat. We served a five course menu with cocktails and two desserts. Local products took center stage with Goan chorizo, Amul cheese, and fish from the Arabian sea all playing key roles. We only served about two dozen guests before getting pulled into other projects, but our guests agreed that Mexican and Indian food certainly have a lot to say to each other.
During my second year in Mumbai, I teamed up with two artists to create a multi-sensory bar experience to complement a series of DJ sets. We created a cocktail menu based on local ingredients, and hid the bar behind a paper mural. Guests paid for their drinks at the entrance and received a ticket in exchange. They had to reach through a hole in the mural to give their ticket to the bartender, who would then activate their sense of touch with various objects. Some guests received a wipe from a sea sponge, a soft "bite" from a piranha skull, or even had their fingernail painted. After a few minutes, the bartender would reach her own hand through the hole to hand the guest their drink. The goal was to expand the scope of what our guests received when they made an order, from just a beverage and a smile to an unexpected set of emotions and sensations.
During my college internship at Omada Health, I worked as the summer "Chief of Staff." My official duties included a sales strategy overhaul and hiring developers for an Android team, but I took it upon myself to add an extra touch to our Friday afternoon breaks. I made a different (slightly) alcoholic popsicle every week for the team to enjoy. In the photos on the right, you can see Blueberry Lime Vodka and Raspberry Peach Whiskey.
The Donut Shop
When I had gone to the shore as a kid, I used to wake up early with my dad to buy cinnamon sugar donuts fresh from the fryer. In my second year of college, the idea of made-to-order donuts got stuck in my head. One of my close friends and I were excited about doing a pop-up on campus, so after enlisting a third, we rented a dorm snack bar for a Sunday morning. We sold out all our stock but weren't able to renew our rental. It launched an enduring interest in creating happy spaces through good food.
Images courtesy of Anneli Tostar