One of my favorite “how we met” stories involves my longtime bestie, Adrienne Infante. We met when she threw me a birthday party...that’s right, the woman is so dedicated to the art of celebration that she will throw a party for a girl she literally does not know from dance class. Once I met her equally talented and festive sister, Nicole Infante, it became pretty clear that this was in their family DNA. Not only do these two know how to set out a drool-worthy spread and make a mean cocktail, they also have the magic touch for making any party seem effortlessly fabulous and inviting.
Many years and countless parties later, I’ve had the pleasure of watching these two take party planning to the next level with their Bon Appetit magazine inspired dinner party, Bon Appétit for Destruction (BAFD). Their instagram has even caught the eye of the BA editors themselves...you’ll want to stay tuned for what these sisters are cooking up next!
I describe you two as “a walking party”! Where did you learn the skills that turned you into the hostesses with the mostesses? Who inspires you when planning a party?
Nicole: Well, Adrienne was a born hostess. For her Sweet 16 she sent everyone home with a live goldfish. She’s the one with the big ideas, and I’m the one that breaks it down into tasks. I’d say we both get inspiration from glamorous 1970’s dinner parties, when you could be seated next to royalty on one side, and the barber down the street on the other. It’s all about mixing and matching and not taking it too seriously - you just have to get your vibe right.
How did Bon Appétit for Destruction start, and what has it evolved into?
Nicole & Adrienne: We started after our Mom passed away in 2014. Her Bon Appétit magazines kept coming to her house and Adrienne had one of her, “what do you think if we...” moments... next thing you know we’ve had dozens of Bon Appétit parties over the last 5 ½ years. It started as an exercise in dealing with our grief - it gave us something to look forward to, to plan. It forced us to stay social and not hide at home and be sad. But it’s become something so much bigger than that. We’ve never had a shared hobby before, and this adventure in cooking and hostessing has taken our sisterhood into another stratosphere. We’ve always been close, but through all this we’ve learned a patience and respect for each other that we're not sure we would have ever learned.
What are your top tips for being a great host?
Nicole: Well Taylor, YOU NEED TO CALM DOWN. We learned early on that if you’re stressed out, no one is having fun. We took it WAY too seriously in the beginning. Truly, no one cares that the napkins aren’t all folded the exact same way. Focus on decluttering your space (throw all your crap in a room and lock the door, it’s just for one night). I hate, hate, hate, overhead lighting, scented candles, and a room with no music. Sounds like basic dinner party stuff, but truly- just focus on making the mood right. There’s tons of Spotify playlists, clean your house, and lower the lights. And you have to have a snack and a drink ready for people as soon as they walk in. It makes your guest feel more at ease and buys you time until dinner is served.
What tips do you have for not being a pain-in-the-ass guest?
Nicole & Adrienne: It’s LA, we know if we say dinner is at 7, we will actually eat at 8. But seriously, don’t come more than an hour late. A bottle of wine is always a welcome gift…it never goes to waste! If you’re asked to bring a dish, bring it assembled.
What are your favorite host gifts to bring to a party?
Nicole: My favorite thing is to bring a little bouquet of flowers in a glass and tell the host that it’s for their bedroom, so that they wake up happy tomorrow morning. That way there’s no expectation that your flowers be on display with what your hosts have decorated, and it has more thoughtfulness to it. We learned about the Ball Whisk from a Don’t Ask, Do post and I am so obsessed! I’ve bought them for a few friends and I think that would make a really useful host gift. Maybe with a box of pancake mix for the morning after.
Any “I will never do that again!” mistakes?
Nicole & Adrienne: If the recipe sounds too complicated, just don’t do it. You don’t get an award for sweating it out in the kitchen. We used to do really complicated cocktails in the beginning, but now we try to only do drinks that can be premixed in a carafe ahead of time. No one is here to see you squeeze 26 lemons! No grilling while the party is going on, leave that experience for Fourth of July.
Where should the bulk of our party budget go? What’s worth splurging on?
Nicole & Adrienne: We really try to not buy plastic crap. However, stock up on glass candle holders at the Dollar Store. We love this trick from Anthropologie…when they burn candles in their store the candle is always in a larger glass vessel. It protects the flame and the light bounces off the glass. You can do this with all sizes of candles (it’s not just for votives- think big!) and glasses.
We also went to the Downtown Flower Mart a ton in the beginning and, although it’s a nice treat, Trader Joe’s has great flowers and greenery. When you’re hosting a big crowd, you don’t need to show off with fancy wines. BevMo has great deals and always have really helpful recs. We think real non-paper napkins elevate a table and are worth the investment. Ralph’s, Gelson's and Whole Foods has a bin of cheeses that are $5 and under, it’s a great source to make a really interesting cheese plate!
How can we follow your future party projects and culinary adventures?
@bonappetitfordestruction is our little visual diary for all our Bon Appétit recipes. We just hope we inspire you to try cooking one new thing this week and get out of your comfort zone. Before this, we survived on take-out and Trader Joe’s (no shame in that game) and we never made anything beyond homemade sweets and English Muffin Pizzas. If we can do it, you can do it! We have a few food related projects we are working on in 2020 that we’re pretty psyched about...stay tuned!