Brunch with Julia Sherman


Brunch at Julia Sherman’s Sunny Pasadena Treehouse

Our In Good Company series brings together good people, good food, and (of course) a welcoming space.

In this edition, cookbook author, photographer, and Salad For President founder Julia Sherman throws a relaxed brunch at her hillside Pasadena home. In between admiring the colorful spread and enjoying live readings, we asked Sherman about her tips for a successful bash.

What are three essential components of a memorable gathering?

Music! Always music. I am jarred by a silent room.  

Something to eat. It doesn't have to be fancy! People really don't care if you made it yourself. Just be thoughtful. It's not a test of your culinary skills. 

Energy. I can think of some weird dinner parties I have attended, and it's always because the host seemed to be more stressed than happy to be in that position … Remember that just by inviting someone over, you are giving them a night off. They are probably thrilled! 

What do you consider when planning your menu?

I think seasonally. I want to work with what's available at the farmer's market or in my garden. Starting with good produce makes everything easier on the cook. I lean on vegetables when I am planning an event, with an eye towards my budget and the food chain. 

Then, I think about balance. I want there to be a balance of protein, produce and carbs, and a balance between light and fresh and indulgent items.  

“It's SO much better for everyone if we all agree to stop apologizing for our culinary acumen, the cleanliness of the bathroom, the existence of children's toys. Remember that just by inviting someone over you are giving them a night off.”

How do you create the conditions for lively conversation?

I am a caretaker by nature (to a fault), so I take on the responsibility to move around the room, to introduce people, to set conversations in motion and pay extra attention to the guests who might be a little less outgoing or who have come solo. 

What kinds of changes do you make to your space when you’re hosting?

I clean! The thing I am most envious of are friends who don't feel the compulsive need to tidy up before having friends over. That actually makes me feel extra welcome and comfortable, but it's the opposite of what I am prone to do. I need the space to be ordered to focus. 

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