The Wandering was both born overnight and a long time coming, an idea we’d both been keen to make a reality and were only able to truly manifest as a team. We founded The Wandering last summer after a dinner party in our living room. Great wine, a greater home-cooked potluck and a table filled to the brim with close friends left us both hankering for more. More table time, more conversation, more opportunities to step away from our workweek stressors to unwind, appreciate and celebrate food.
That same evening, The Wandering was founded with a very simple mission: to create accessible opportunities for community, of both new and familiar faces, to gather around a plant-based and seasonally inspired table and share an unforgettable experience. Both growing up in Jewish homes, we were fundamentally influenced by the Jewish value of hachnasat orchim (הכנסת אורחים), welcoming all guests, no matter the circumstance. Accessibility is at the core of The Wandering, guiding every decision, from our price point to how we design our menus and recipes.
With four gatherings now under our belt, from intimate dinners to casual brunches, we’ve witnessed the beauty and potential of our fostered community. Our gatherings have truly inspired plant-forward cooking on an individual level, and our guests have made our dishes fixtures of their own cooking. And as we look toward the future, we see the potential ripple effects that The Wandering can have on the world around us. We believe that our gatherings have the potential to spur a much larger impact on our food system, affecting our local food economy, public health and community. We’re just getting started.
One of our very favorite moments came from The Wandering 02, an intimate dinner inspired by the early fall harvest. We welcomed a new sea of faces with bright white wine; our signature “Intoxicated Detox,” a gin-based cocktail with pressed apple, ginger and lemon juice; and a table filled with a bounty of warm tomato harissa dip, smokey carrot hummus, fried olives with orange zest, a savory bread and cannellini bean skillet (to name a few!). It was pure magic witnessing new friendships blossom, conversation effortlessly take shape and bellies fill with locally sourced food.
To top it all off, one of our guests was a local musician; she graced us (after a few minutes of pleading from the crew) with a tender rendition of the late Leonard Cohen’s’ “Hallelujah”—divinely intimate, warm and open. That moment was the perfect segue for our dessert (recipe here), which was warming, savory and sweet all in one. As we reflect back on this past season, we’re reminded of so many memorable moments with our community—of shared plates, conversation and accessibility.
While everyone reading may not be able to join us at our specific table, The Wandering is not an exclusive experience. Here are our tips on how to create enchanting gatherings around your table this holiday season:
- Focus on seasonally accessible produce. It’s not only more budget friendly, but also more nutrient rich, vibrant and more environmentally conscious. Autumn and winter produce often includes root vegetables, cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower and broccoli, dark leafy greens and apples and pears. Craving summer berries or tomatoes? During those cooler months, opt for frozen or canned options—trust us, they can be just as delicious!
- Keep your recipes simple. Opting for one-pot or one-bowl recipes, like our Warm Cannellini and Carrot Salad, will not only make your life easier, cutting down on your time spent cooking and cleaning, but it will also allow your guests to feel comfortable recreating your dishes, amplifying the mission of your meal.
- Be inclusive and open. Though this can feel just as intimidating for the host as the guest, open your table to old friends and new faces alike. Nothing builds friendship and community like a shared meal…and maybe a handy bottle of red wine!
- Encourage participation. Hosting a gathering can be a monetary and time commitment. Ease your personal burden, and also make the meal a bit more interactive, by suggesting a potluck. Offer a theme, like autumn harvest or cozy brunch, and get ready to try something new!
- A beautiful table doesn’t have to be complicated. We love kicking off our dinner gatherings with seasonal crudité, like raw carrots, string beans, purple broccoli and sliced pears, coupled with simple dips, like our Smokey Carrot Hummus. You can even opt for a store-bought hummus and harissa if timing is tight.
It’s truly remarkable to see months of planning, visioning and ideating come to life at our tables. The Wandering is simple, yet elusive. There are simply not enough plant-based gatherings that allow people all of backgrounds to take part. We’re setting out to fill that gap.