Today, in the LINNÉ spotlight series, we have the privilege to feature chef, entertaining expert, and founder of La Cura Olivia Muniak.
What led you to start La Cura?
Having grown up in and around restaurants (my family is in the business in NYC), I’ve always been drawn back to my roots. I thought it might manifest as my own restaurant, but after I left a corporate job in brand marketing and began producing events for Moet Hennessy it all clicked. Under the lens of the event space, I was able to tie my expertise in hospitality, food and wine into uniquely curated brand marketing experiences. It was around this time that I also began to host a seasonal supper club as a way to create meaningful connections in the ever fast-paced world we’re living in today. La Cura grew out of the need for thoughtfully curated events and to elevate the catering space. We approach every event with the same intention: where lingering is not only expected but it’s encouraged.
What does La Cura mean?
Translated from Italian, it simply means “the cure”. A space to harness creativity, learning and exploration through curated experiences that allow for a slower pace focused on the present, the people, the food and the table you gathered around.
What inspires you most in the kitchen?
Inspiration strikes all the time. Whether I’m perusing the farmer’s market in a new city, reading the forward to a new cookbook, or planning a dinner with a friend who I haven’t seen in ages - creativity weaves its way into most areas of my life. It’s more than just the food served, but the flowers sourced, the cutlery chosen, the candles lit and of course the company. Afterall, good food means nothing without someone to break bread with.
What are the top three things your kitchen is never without?
Stretching this slightly, but my kitchen is never without three categories: fresh herbs and citrus, alliums (garlic, onion, shallot) and parmigiano reggiano. These kitchen staples dress up any vegetable or starch and make any last-minute dinner elevated and delicious.
What is your favorite aspect of hosting a dinner party and entertaining?
Lingering conversations as the meal is winding down hold a very special place in my heart- whether they are deep, hysterical or both. It’s a sacred time that allows space for savoring the last bites of dessert, and perhaps opening another bottle of wine (in a very European fashion). There’s nowhere else anyone wants or has to be. It’s magically present and I always wish it lasted longer.
What is one tip you have for anyone who might be nervous to host a dinner party?
I look back at my time in restaurants to help me with hosting, and it’s all in preparation or, the French phrase “mise en place”. Any ingredients you can portion out, chop, dice, slice ahead of time make for a seamless evening. Additionally, reading through the recipes a few times and days beforehand helps you map out your grocery list & cooking time so you don’t have to make any last minute runs back to the grocery store. I try to pick a dessert I can prepare the day before and do the messier part of (if any) of cooking before guests arrive so I can have a clean kitchen and spend more time with my company. Finally, to calm any nerves, I like staging the house and setting the table while having a cocktail with my partner before friends arrive.