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Announcing: Cheshire Parlour

by Monica McCarthy on March 13, 2014

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A week ago I celebrated my birthday (bourbon! cake!) and the announcement of Act II, an upcoming invaluable resource for performing artists who are looking for more control, purpose, and freedom in their careers and lifestyle.(Don’t forget to join us for upcoming announcements and early bird specials!)

In between all the merrymaking I was also working behind the scenes on another labor of love: a monthly salon (or parlour as I’m calling it for reasons detailed below) for the purpose of  ”exploring big ideas in intimate settings.” I’ll get to the specifics in a moment but first an overview of what this project is about…. Ladies and gentlemen of the Interwebs, I’m VERY pleased to welcome to the world…

CheshireParlour

The Scene:

Each month, a small group of thought leaders, change-makers, artists, creatives, and rabble rousers gather together for an evening rife with food and spirits to discuss, connect, and reflect on ideas that have influenced humanity since antiquity.

The Setting:

Inspired by the agape meals of yore, the evening includes a thoughtfully crafted meal, graciously sponsored by Food52 and held in their stunning midtown Manhattan loft.

The Discussion:

The guests are led through a lively discussion about a “big idea” (a la freedom, beauty, love), prompted by philosophical and cultural references. The conversations are documented and distilled to form a unique and contemporary curation of the topic.

The Documentation (aka The BEST Part!):

Following the event, each conversation is transformed into a manifesto which visually encompasses the ideas shared, as well as listing the names of the guests as the contributors. The finished manifesto will become limited edition printed posters which will be sold online, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity. All guests will receive a copy to keep.

The Origins:

The common thread among all the guests is their desire to go down the proverbial rabbit hole to cultivate a more curious world. We may never know all the answers, but we can always be inspired to be curiouser and curiouser.

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, or you wouldn’t have come here.”

The symbol of the cat is also an homage to the Golden Age of Gertrude Stein, 1920s Paris, and the frequent salons at the much celebrated Chat Noir.

While the “salon” is the more popular term, it was actually the parlour where the most dynamic discussions took place. Parlours are smaller and more informal than salons, offering a space that doesn’t feel like “networking” but instead, feels like spending time in the home of good friends.

THE FIRST TIME

For the debut on Sunday, March 9th 2014, the theme was TIME, both as an homage to Daylight Savings Time (which happened on the same day) and as a nod to the birthdays of Cheshire Parlour and, well, myself.

There is so much about this project that is near and dear to my heart, and I’ll be sharing more about it as it grows, but the first thing I realized when I started taking steps to make this dream a reality, was there was no way I’d be able to pull this off on my own.

To start with, I don’t know the first thing about cooking, nor was I interested in having the parlours take place in a restaurant. So when, just three weeks ago, while having drinks with my pal Bryce, as I listened to her brilliant solutions to my woes, I knew I needed her culinary prowess. Bryce is an incredible cook, runs her brilliant Kitchen Letters series, and  works at Food52. Thanks to Bryce and her generous colleagues, the Food52 midtown loft became the setting for the evening. Bryce prepared all the food herself (proving a broken oven was no match for her skills) using some of her favorite Food52 recipes. And for the 48 hours leading up to the event, Bryce and I ran all around town picking up odds and ends for the evening, which I can’t even begin to imagine how I would have been able to do myself without having a breakdown in the middle of Union Square. It came down to the wire, but Bryce remained all smiles and I’m forever grateful the fates put us together.

One of our goals with Cheshire Parlour is to have as many elements of the evening as curated as possible.  The centerpieces were generously provided by Flower Social and the blooms added a lovely preview of spring.  When, at the last minute, I wanted to create a cocktail especially for the evening, Erica Duecy of Storied Sips stepped up to the plate by sharing her recipe for a spin on the Old Fashioned (which is now dubbed the Time Capsule Twist), providing her own homemade lemon bitters, and playing bartender for the evening. As a fan of Old Fashioneds, I can assure you these were nothing short of delicious. You had better believe we’re already brewing up ideas for next month’s Parlour!

Contributing greatly to the aesthetic of the evening, was the design work of Hannah Loaring. Hannah has been a champion of the Cheshire Parlour concept from the beginning and is designing our first manifesto as we speak! She also created all the branded content, adding to the polished elegance of the event. My not-so-secret wish is to have Hannah fly out from France for our upcoming parlours, but she was definitely with us in spirit.

Last, but certainly not least, my cup runneth over thanks to the eleven guests who shared their ideas, beliefs, and wisdom about TIME, while proving that the art of  meaningful discussion over dinner is alive and well.

Lesson learned: Bring people on board who can help you exceed your wildest dreams.

TIME AFTER TIME

We’ll be sharing more throughout the coming weeks (included our first Manifesto!) but I wanted to first thank everyone involved with making the debut of Cheshire Parlour a smashing success.

Our website is being built, but if you’d like to stay up to date with all things Cheshire Parlour in the meantime, we’ve just created a Facebook Page–> https://www.facebook.com/CheshireParlour <— Come on over, “like us,” and share in the shenanigans!

Cheshire Parlour is proof that people are hungry for meaningful connections.  As one guest said at the end of the night:

“This is the way dinner parties should be. No gossip or pandering, just great people, great food, and great conversations.”

Just the way I like it.

Cheers!

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Our guests offer a helping hand with final preparations

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Lively discussion on the topic of time

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Our Culinary expert and her handsome helper (Photo courtesy of Alex Toskovich)

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Coming soon to a manifesto near you!

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Our Time Capsule Twist (Photo courtesy of Erica Duecy)

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Moi & Bryce, the official Parlour Maids

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