Who Wants to Take A Road Trip?!
Happy Morning everyone! So it's official: In less than 2 weeks, I'm taking a cross-country road trip. And throwing a bunch of dinner parties along the way. Wanna come along?
I've been about to burst holding this in, but now that everything's planned, I'm so excited to be able to share the juicy details with you all! On June 1, I'm hitting the road for a month (accompanied by my amazing intern Elise), driving from NYC to Los Angeles, then flying to Seattle, and ultimately back to NYC. In case you're interested, I mapped our driving route (all 3750 miles of it) above, on a cool website called Roadtrippers. Along the way, I'll be throwing a series of collaborative dinner parties with some of my favorite bloggers (and designers and generally inspiring people) across the country, cooking recipes from the cookbook, and spreading the word about the book and the Kickstarter campaign. But more importantly, I'll hopefully manage to inspire you all to host your own small gatherings around the table this summer.
I'll be blogging about the dinner parties + sharing daily updates from the road during the month of June, and I hope you'll follow along!! Here's the itinerary:
Dinner #1: NYC (May 28) at The Yellow Table
Dinner #2: Raleigh (June 3) with The Fresh Exchange
Dinner #3: Nashville (June 7) with Peter Nappi
Dinner #4: New Orleans (June 11) with Joy the Baker
Dinner #5: Austin (June 14) with Love & Lemons
Dinner #6: Dallas (June 15) with Neighbor's Table
Dinner #7: Los Angeles (June 22) with Smitten Studio
Dinner #8: Seattle (TBA) with SCOUT
There are all sorts of surprises in the works - other collaborators that are going to be involved (from designers to photographers to cooks to artists to musicians and more!) – and there will be so many stories to tell. I am beyond excited about all that is about to unfold!!
This trip is a dream come true, on so many levels. In December, I wrote a post about 2013 being the Year of the Dinner Party. I realized that some of my greatest moments last year took place at the table, surrounded by friends or family. And even greater was the joy that came from collaborating with friends, and creating gatherings where everyone contributed something to the evening. Both the cookbook and the road trip were inspired by the same sentiment: that food, and life, is meant to be shared with the people you love – preferably around a table. I started mapping out the idea in earnest on the plane ride back from Iceland in January. I wrote pages and pages in my journal, and then we got home and real life hit. Brandon's health declined, the gloom of winter descended, and fear set in. It wasn't until April that I revisited the idea, and dared to start dreaming again. I prayed for courage and for direction, and slowly started to put the feelers out, contacting a few bloggers about potentially collaborating with me.
I cannot describe to you the resistance I felt when I wrote the email to Joy (a.ka. Joy the Baker). She's the nicest person in the world – I met her briefly at one of her book-signing events, after standing in line for 3 hours, and loved her instantly – but she's also super busy writing books and traveling and running a huge blog. The voices in my head said: "Who do you think you are? Why in the world would Joy want to collaborate with you?!" Yet deep down, I felt I had to at least ask. I wrote and deleted about 100 emails, but finally I pressed send. Days passed, and I held my breath. And eventually I got an email back that said, "YES! I'd love to throw a dinner party with you!" I was so shocked that I literally burst into (happy) tears. I was so humbled and overjoyed. It felt like God was saying, "Keep on doing what you're doing. I am with you. Let me open the doors."
From there, my courage increased. I wrote to more bloggers – some friends, some that I just admired from afar – and said "Hey, do you want to throw a dinner party with me?" I told them about the book and the upcoming Kickstarter campaign, and asked if they'd host if I cooked. The response was incredible. With the exception of one (who had a scheduling conflict), they all said yes!!
Then I took a HUGE leap of faith and started reaching out to brands. I asked Volkswagen if they would lend me a car. (They said yes.) I asked Whole Foods if they would be willing to sponsor the ingredients and the wine for the dinner parties. (Yes!) I asked GoPro if they'd be willing to give me a video camera to document the trip. (Again, yes!). I am dumfounded and overjoyed, all at once. All of these open doors...it's just crazy. This has been such a journey of faith already, even before the trip has begun.
Can you believe this is the car we'll be driving?!?! It's a VW Beetle TDI! Beyond excited.
Anyway, I hope this story encourages you to keep pursuing your dreams...whatever they are. It will be hard at times, and probably the scariest thing you've ever done, but I promise you – pushing through the fear is SO liberating!! And truly, the sky's the limit. It's crazy to think how long I stayed paralyzed by lies about who I am, and what I could do. I am so excited to share my journey with you all, and I LOVE hearing your stories as well. (So keep 'em coming!) Thanks for your love, support, and enthusiasm for this project. I truly couldn't do it without you all.
P.S. Any fun hashtag recommendations for this roadtrip? Would love any great ideas you have! Also, tell me where I should eat along the way...I love discovering great local food spots!
(Dinner party photos courtesy of Amy Dickerson, Mike Gilger, Brandon Carl; car picture courtesy of Volkswagen.)