Photographed by Sharon Radisch.
Laila Gohar is one of those women who can unassumingly saunter into a room and command attention. The founder of Sunday Supper NY, a catering company which creates sensory food experiences using the freshest of ingredients, is a study in elegance with a type of kinetic energy that seems to be bubbling right below the surface. Some might say this type of nature is the ideal recipe for a perfect host—and we’d have to agree.
After spending some time with Gohar, first on set at the Barneys New York Edun lookbook shoot, of which she was the subject, and after on location at Freds where she created quite possibly the most gorgeous artful salad we’ve ever seen (seriously, see the photo at bottom of this post—you could blow it up, stretch it on canvas, and hang it in your living room), it’s clear that she’s captured lightning in a bottle. By taking her love for family and friends, travel, and entertaining and harnessing her creative talents, Laila has come out on top with Sunday Supper NY. Pouring the last two years of her life into her true passions—all encompassed in her catering business—Laila has quite literally decorated New York City and events around the world with her unique take on food, entertainment, and art.
The Window sat down with Laila to ask a few questions about her life, learn the secrets to being a stellar host, and score the recipe for that stunning masterpiece of a salad.
The Window: How did Sunday Supper come to be?
Laila Gohar: Sunday Supper developed very organically. I had been throwing what started off as small dinners for a few friends, and evolved into dinner parties for thirty-something people—all crammed into tiny Manhattan apartments, lofts, and gardens in Brooklyn. I would spend my days obsessively Googling recipes (never truly followed), and my evenings planning dinner parties. Some nights, I even dreamt of what I’d be cooking the next day.
After a lot of encouragement from friends, I decided to launch Sunday Supper. It was a very natural progression. The idea was to throw the same kind of parties I was hosting for my friends, and cook the same style of food—very fresh, seasonally driven, and beautiful. I launched in July 2013. That quickly morphed into a full fledged catered business. Now, I work with brands, artists, and museums to create menus for all sorts of occasions—from celebrating collaborations to art openings. I do events of all sizes—sometimes up to 200 people—and work closely with the artist or brand to translate their vision to food.
What’s been one rewarding moment since starting your business?
Chuck Close telling me that a salad I made for him once was the most beautifully composed salad he’d ever seen in his life.
Any recent events or dinners you’ve hosted you’re especially proud of?
I made a three foot volcano of rice and beans that erupted for an artist opening recently. That was a lot of fun.
What would be your ideal meal for fall?
It would include all things purple. Aubergine, purple cauliflower, and kohlrabi. A big bowl of plums and concord grapes for dessert. Fish [year round] is usually my protein of choice.
What are three no-fail hosting tips for a great dinner party?
1. Your guests won’t have fun unless you’re having fun. Don’t stress—relax. Wine will help with that.
2. Make a good playlist that will get people dancing at the end of dinner.
3. Serve big bowls of cold fruit meant for sharing for dessert.
The Laila Salad
1 box bibb lettuce
1/2 cup shelled and cooked edamame
1 cup farro, boiled
3 medium-sized Chioggia (candy cane) beets, thinly sliced (preferred method—using a mandolin)
1 orange, peeled, pith removed, and sliced into thin wedges
1/2 cup Pepquino (mini) melons
2 tablespoons ricotta cheese
2 teaspoons nigella seeds
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup orange juice
Sea salt to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1/4 cup edible flowers
Whisk the oil, orange juice, salt and pepper in a bowl to make a vinaigrette. Set aside.
Build the salad in layers: Begin by placing the lettuce on the bottom of the bowl. Let some lettuce poke out of the sides. Then, pour half of the vinaigrette onto the faro and toss. Place the faro on top of the lettuce. Add the rest of the vinaigrette to the beets. Layer the beets on top of the faro. Place the orange slices on top of the beets. Carefully add little balls of ricotta (form with a spoon or with your hands) around the oranges. Finally, add the edamame around the oranges and nigella seeds on top the oranges. Garnish with edible flowers.