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. 

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