The clicking of a Lettera 32 turquoise typewriter sounds off in tandem with OutKast’s Ms. Jackson, bumping throughout the apartment. Sophie is steadily typing tonight’s menu—adding the finishing touches of where we source each ingredient from at the bottom.
Meanwhile, the mismatched candles are lit, the carefully once-folded over napkins are placed, and the wine glasses are dispersed evenly around the table. We both anxiously glance at the slightly blurry, digital numbers on the oven— 5:40—and realize that there’s only twenty more minutes until the guests arrive.
The first knock sounds, we flatten out our pin-striped matching aprons, and give each other a look that says “We’ve got this, but if there’s any hiccup, you and I have each other.”. The first guest, Jorge, arrives. Prompted for his phone, there’s a flash of anxiety in his eyes as he watches society’s crutch go into a nondescript pot. As the next three guests arrive, the phone bucket accumulates its full stash for the night— ours included.
It’s obvious that the first few minutes are riddled with hidden anxiety as each guest—strangers to each other—inadvertently judges who they are about to eat three courses with. However, the Spicewood Smashes, our signature cocktail of the night, seemingly loosen people up, and the octaves of conversation slowly rise.
Finally, the group of four is summoned to be seated for the evening’s first course: a mezze of Israeli inspired tapas, along with homemade pillows of pita bread. They read our awkwardly worded menu, through laughs, and realize that it tells a sort of story. The saying “breaking bread” literally applies, as the guests are encouraged to eat a family style meal. Around the table was the Dean of General Studies at Columbia University, a Global Instructor for Moroccan Oil, a Columbia Economics Major, and a creative photographer with his own production company. It’s likely that these four would not have shared a meal without a little orchestration done by ÓLaVie.
More than the rush we felt of watching people enjoy our homemade meal, there was an ultimate thrill knowing that meaningful, organic connections were made in our curated, welcoming space. To see the evolution of people’s interactions from the timidness during cocktail hour to the easy laughs and exchange of contact information after digestifs—this is what inspired us to create ÓLaVie.
To grow and expand our network, at the end of each dinner, each guest is given four ÓLaVie coasters to take home with them—one for them to keep and three to give to people they believe would enjoy a similar experience. In a way, these coasters act as a physical invitation by allowing guests’ friends to contact us via our email on the back of the coaster. Then the next dinner happens with a new group of initial strangers, and we are lucky to see the process happen all over again.
“Getting to also learn about three other individuals and start new connections. But also I learned so much from myself. I truly didn’t want it to end.” -Martín Plascentia (Past Guest)
ÓLaVie is a community of individuals created through shared stories, meaningful connections, and three seasonal, locally sourced courses of the highest quality. ÓLaVie brings initial strangers—inspiring people from extraordinary backgrounds—together in a space where interaction is not constrained by the ever-expanding distraction of modern day technology. Words are spoken out loud, eye contact is made, memories replace photographs, and by the end of the meal contact information is exchanged, on paper. ÓLaVie proves the importance of human interaction. Beyond the plate, ÓLaVie is an experience, and we hope to share it with you.