Even—or perhaps especially—in New York, where ovens are used as storage and having friends over more often than not means delivery, there’s something special about the home-cooked meal. Few people understand this better than Laila Gohar, the culinary wizard behind the new catering company Sunday Supper. Gohar, who also writes about food, art, and design, points to her childhood in Egypt as the beginning of her fascination with the way the dining table can bring people together. “My love for food and cooking stems from the meals I had with my family growing up in Cairo,” she says. “No one in my family was a chef, but everybody loved to improvise and come up with different recipes.”
She got her start spearheading her own meals with small thrown-together dinner parties for friends in the many cities she has lived in over the past few years, a smaller version of the hundreds-strong fêtes her parents used to throw in her family’s backyard. “Oftentimes, there aren’t enough utensils or seats, but that never really gets in the way,” she says of her meals, which she continues to host out of cramped Manhattan apartments and pastoral Brooklyn gardens. “As long as there is food and wine, everyone is happy eating off the same plate and with the same fork, and sometimes on each other’s laps.”
Gohar, who is available to cater anything from a large-scale corporate event down to a relaxed brunch for family and friends, calls her cooking “very instinctual.” Her devotion to fresh food and nearby New York farmers comes, again, from her youth, a time when all ingredients were “local and organic before ‘local’ and ‘organic’ were buzzwords being thrown around,” she laughs. “I think it’s incredibly important to respect ingredients and not mask them with too many flavors. It’s a new type of comfort food that’s just as beautiful as it is delicious.”
For Gohar, the Sunday Supper experience is about the experience. Delicious as the poulet rôti or the asparagus and mint conchiglie might be, they serve to enhance, not distract from, the main event itself. “At the end of the day, it’s all about love,” she says. “Loving the people you’re sharing a meal with, loving the occasion—whatever it may be—and, of course, loving the food! The most delicious meals are always made with love.”
For more information, please visit SundaySupperNY.com. Photography by Ramón Iriarte.
Jonathan Shia is the editor of The Last Magazine.