Around The Table

Around the Table with Appleyard London

Get some top tips from Tash Khan, Managing Director of Appleyard London about dining with friends. 

Tash Khan Appleyard Flowers London

Tell us a little about yourself?

I am a former investment banker who fancied a change of career. I had a desire for creativity so I quit acquisition finance and bought a flower shop in London. In 2012, I sold this to Interflora after growing the florist 10 fold. With my passion for business and flowers still present, I created Ecomnova, which aims to become the next generation in flowers and gifting. Appleyard London is a luxury florist branded under Ecomnova. 

Yellow Flower Bouquet by Appleyard London

How often do you get together with friends for dinner?

Often, I would say certainly once, sometimes twice a week.


What makes a great dining experience with friends? 

Overall, great food combined with great wine and of course, great company.

 Wine selected by Tash Khan, Managing Director of Appleyard London

Working for a luxury boutique florist do you find flowers play a big part in your dining experiences?

I do. With flowers, they are very much about the environment and how they contribute to the room. They bring happiness, warmth and decoration when dressing the room for dinner. At restaurants, it creates a special, well-kept feel and whilst cooking at home it can be the difference between a good time and a great experience. I find people will always comment on how beautiful they are.

Taking flowers as opposed to wine as a thank you gift goes down well as flowers are something the host is unlikely to have purchased for the occasion.  It is something different and something they can use in their living room, hall, kitchen or even their bathroom.


If hosting a dinner party, which one flower would you want to include on the table? 

Lily of the Valley – it’s delicate, elegant and beautiful.


What’s your thoughts on edible flowers? (have you ever tried them? do you like them? if you don't have an opinion on this, please don't worry about answering it)

I am all for edible flowers but I believe they make better decorations than anything else. At Appleyard London, we use a whole host of herbs within our bouquet’s foliage including lavender, eucalyptus, mint, rosemary and sage.

 Scented flowers by Appleyard London

What would be your top tip (maybe up to 3 tips) for hosting a dinner party?

1 – Try and bring your personality to the dinner party in either the décor or the food. For instance, I try to use organic and locally sourced produce as that is a big interest of mine.

2 – Be well prepared with plenty of time for the finer details like the flowers, the environment and the aura of the room

3 – When attending a dinner party, don’t always take a bottle of wine as the gift. Try taking chocolates, a thank you card or flowers. 

Chocolate and Flowers Selected By Appleyard London

Around the table with Coco Obayda

Coco Obayda is the Co-Founder COO at Brick & Portal.

Coco Obayda Co-founder of Brick and Portal

I grew up in a very social family. My parents would host an event at their home at least once a week. Naturally we celebrated Birthdays and holidays. My mother is a perfectionist and every detail had to be perfect. I was trained well! 

What makes a great dinner party at your home? 

What makes a great dinner party is not only the food, the decorations, flowers, table ware/setting but creating a homely and cosy ambiance. I love to create a warm environment from the moment they walk in. I will go out of my way to create a wow factor/statement -  first impressions count! 

Lunch with the Ladies with flower decorations 

How would you sum up your typical dinner party?

 I have dinner parties (indoors/outdoors) and I also have had large BBQ parties that I host on my NYC apartment roof top. The view of NYC Midtown really creates a great energy. Guests love taking pics and selfies with Manhattan as a backdrop.

Brick and Portal Co-founders with Manhattan in the background

My dishes depend of who I'm inviting and the season. For example, A summer BBQ would of course entail, all your traditional items. I make my own burgers from scratch, adding my special seasonings. I like stuffing the burgers with cheese; once prepared the cheese melts out - delicious!  I love adding bacon to the burger meat.  I marinade my chicken and steak the night before.  I like to make sure I have covered all flavors, sweet, tangy and some spicy giving something for everyone. As far as salads go, I mix that up too. I have a home made potato salad that my mother makes. Simple, light and delicious and a great hit. It comprises of steamed red skin potatoes, scallions, parsley, salt pepper, fresh lemon juice and olive oil. I also love to make a watermelon, feta and fresh mint salad with reduced balsamic reduction as a drizzle on top.  

Roast dinner with marinated chicken

Also you cant have a BBQ without kosher pickles! Not forgetting great Italian sausages topped with caramelized peppers and onions.  I love using brioche buns, they hold well and add a nice buttery flavour. 

BBQ corn on the cob

I love traditional Dinner parties. One of my favorite dishes is a truffle mac and cheese with fresh shiitake mushrooms. I also like a perfectly grilled fillet cooked on the BBQ with smoked wood chips, with a simple butter lettuce and tomatoes salad and a dijon lemon vinaigrette. I have never bought salad dressing in a bottle in my life and make dressings from fresh. fresh ingredients, some times I use apricots, raspberries, and fig....

What style do you like to go for when hosting? 

Regarding style of event, I have done, chill, and dressy. Personally I love to dress up and make an effort.  I did a NYE party and had the entire ceiling of the apartment filled with  gold/silver balloons with the strings long enough that they looked like glitter dripping down... I love to use candles. Lighting is one of the most important pieces in creating the right look/feel of a party.  I've used large indoor fire crackers which can be fun. Guests love them as they get to interact with each other and pop the crackers creating confetti everywhere.  Clean up is another story...  

What would be the first thing you’d do when preparing for a dinner party? 

First thing is setting the menu and making sure I have a great variety of food that everyone will enjoy. There needs to be plenty of champagne on hand, cocktails and some great French wine.

Moet Champagne for dinner parties

Guest list, location maybe a theme.I did a fall party that included home made tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches and we had a  a chill game night. Dessert a huge chocolate fondue with fruits, marshmallows... and so on. I travel a lot so I aways have gorgeous items in my fridge from other countries for guests to try.

Music is essential and I have created lots of different playlist that fit any mood. 

Is there a best dinner party menu you like to use?  

I think it is good to mix it up with some traditional dishes and one or two that are of the box. I like to use my Middle Eastern/Armenian background and include something experimental and new for guests to try. Not forgetting our vegetarian friends of course! 

Snacks and nibble suggestions for food parties

Would you say your a candles or no candles kind of person when it comes to dinner parties?  

Candles in abundance! 

Is there a magic number on how many guests to invite?  

For a BBQ I like to keep it fairly intimate for say 25/30 people. Dinner parties and NYE parties I mix up the guests list with friends and new friends that nobody knows.

What would be your top tip?

Keep it simple, Keep it fun, Add personal touches. I like to give everyone something to take home with them. 

Around the kitchen table.... with Kate Pumphrey!


Buckwheat Cream at the Kitchen Table

Around the kitchen table with Kate Pumphrey,

founder of The Hot Breakfast


Kate is a corporate lawyer, who quit the world of City law after deciding that her life could be better lived!  She set up the Hot Breakfast at the end of 2013 with the intention of "inspiring and encouraging people in what they do" by bringing small groups of like-minded Londoners together over a big, hearty, wholesome breakfast for informal conversation and the exchange of ideas.  

The premise behind the Hot Breakfast is that everyone can change the world provided they have the moral support and motivation to do so, and the organisation seeks to evoke that spirit.  The Hot Breakfast was partly inspired by the rich, animated conversations that Kate had with her father, which always left her feeling invigorated and enthused.  Kate also felt that there was a market for people to forge new friendships and business relationships based on their shared interests and passions and that it was also useful to have a safe forum in which to discuss challenges and opportunities and learn from others' experiences - not to mention eat a delicious breakfast!

The Hot Breakfast currently runs as a pop-up from Kate's home in Battersea, but is being rolled out across the capital using central London restaurants, cafes and members' clubs as venues.


What makes a great Hot Breakfast? 

A great Hot Breakfast is one that is full of rich, entertaining and perhaps surprising conversation, where I feel that people have been left buzzing and inspired!  It's really therefore all about the interactions between the guests - and the trick is to induce the best interactions possible.  That's where the menu and set-up comes in: a beautiful table, comfortable surroundings and delicious food will help to get people relaxed and happy, which in turn will hopefully bring out the best in them.

 Banana Blueberry Pancake at the Kitchen Table


How would you sum up your typical Hot Breakfast?

There's no typical Hot Breakfast in terms of people, as so many different characters come along each week: artists, lawyers, entrepreneurs, designers, writers, musicians, scientists, meditation gurus - you name it: they've been! 

Food-wise I try to keep things seasonal and to support local businesses as much as possible.  There are normally three courses.  The first comprises people helping themselves to big bowls of homemade granola, fruit salad, yoghurt and (in winter) pinhead porridge.  The second course is more elaborate: perhaps a shakshuka, or poached eggs with rosti and smoked salmon, or blueberry and banana pancakes, or kedgeree - it depends on the time of year and the guests' dietary requirements.  And to end there is usually something sweet, like a banana bread or fruity scones.  Needless to say there is plenty of tea (Jade Tips and Ceylon from Good & Proper Tea) and top-notch organic coffee.

Sculpted Banana Bread at the Kitchen Table 

What style do you like to go for when hosting?  

It's always very informal and relaxed as that's my style and I want people to feel like they can open up.  People come dressed in whatever they need to wear for the next stage in their day, whether that's a suit, jeans or their cycling gear - anything goes and I've noticed that the more variety in dress there is around the table, the better the breakfast tends to be!  It's always good to introduce people to those they wouldn't normally encounter.

 Turkish Eggs with Dukkah at the Breakfast Table


What would be the first thing you’d do when preparing for a Hot Breakfast? 

The first step in any Hot Breakfast is always to prepare a list of people to be invited, which is drawn from those who have registered for the Hot Breakfast (registration form available via the website).  A maximum of eight people is invited to each event, and I always try to ensure that guests are introduced to new people each time they come and - critically - that those attending share similar interests and passions, albeit with differing perspectives and backgrounds.      

Is there a best dinner party menu you like to use?  

I love to experiment but you always need something safe and reliable too!  That's why the first course is nearly always the same: it's tried and tested, and I can sleep easy the night before, knowing that even if the second course is a disaster, people will at least have had something edible!  There are also certain things that I can't make because I don't want to spend too long in the kitchen away from the table, as it's my responsibility to be there as a host.  So I can't scramble eggs, for example, or do anything that requires a lot of fiddly, last-minute preparation.  Ottolenghi, Bill Granger and the Green Kitchen all have great breakfast recipes.    

Is there a magic number around how many guests to invite?  

I limit each table to eight people, as it's small enough to hold a group discussion and for everyone to have an opportunity to talk about what they get up to.  And I deliberately try to ensure that people are meeting new folk because that's where the magic lies: in sparking new thinking and ideas.

What would be your 3 top tips?

  1. As ever with hosting, be militarily organised!  I order and buy food several days in advance, lay the table two evenings ahead of any breakfast, and cook the bulk of the food the night before, all of which helps to stagger the workload and takes the stress out of entertaining.
  2. Small details, such as clear placements (I write people's names in chalk on the slate tableware), can help guests feel secure and relaxed.  A carefully laid table also makes people realise the effort that has gone into each event, which in turn encourages them to contribute and value the event.
  3. In a homemade granola, pecans are your friend and walnuts the foe!  Life-changing tip, that one.


by: Kate Pumphrey @thehotbreakfast

Kate Pumphrey, Around the Kitchen Table