Photo by Thomas Northcut
Words & Interview by Jess Hemenway/Photography by Will Foster
Shes a babe, party host, cook, teacher, ice cream maker and basically the girl of our dreams- Danielle Florio is the lady behind Whisk & Ladle. Whisk & Ladle is a supper club that started in 2003 and is now hosted in the amazing loft of Danielle and her roommates on the waterfront of Williamsburg. If youre looking for a good time, place to meet new people, an amazing meal and cocktailswe guarantee youll enjoy a night at this soiree.
Where do you Live:
Favorite Neighborhood Eat:
Rye Restaurant, hands down.
Drink of Choice:
Right now: a dry glass of rose. Anytime: a bourbon on the rocks
My friends just started a book club (which is more like a wine drinking club, but I digress...), so I'm reading " A Confederacy of Dunces," by John Kennedy Toole for that, which I'm thoroughly enjoying. I'm also reading " The Disappointment Artist" by Jonathan Lethem, which is a collection of his essays. But. I'm most excited about the next book on my list, which is Michael Pollan's "Cooked." I am dying to get started on that.
Describe yourself in just a few words:
Sunny, hyper, hostess, teacher... ice cream maker.
Tell us how you got involved with The Whisk & Ladle and stumbled upon this amazing space.
In 2006 my current roommate and I were on the lookout for new digs. We could not, for the life of us, find a two bedroom that suited us at our price point/in our desired area. So we decided to extend the search to apartments that were looking for two roommates. We came across a hilarious post about this place on Criagslist and wrote her a quirky/silly/informative email back, which she responded to... and we were able to convince her to meet with us, like right away. We came armed with a bottle of red. Norah was there to meet with us, and the three of us instantly clicked. Needless to say we polished off that bottle of wine, and the rest is history.
OKay so now it's the summer of '06 and we live here. We're cleaning/fixing up the place, putting in some serious TLC, getting to know our new roommates...Mark (roommate I moved in here with) and I become fast friends with Norah.
So one night Mark and I are asking Norah if it'd be cool if we had groups of friends over once in a while to cook big meals. This is TOTALLY just a casual have-friends-over-to-your-place type of thing and she begins to tell us all about a supper club she ran a few years prior--which she called the 'Whisk & Ladle.' She'd send out paper invites, require formal attire, and put on elaborate five course meals for friends, family, and friends of friends alike Mark and I were totally blown away by the concept. We immediately hatched a plan to re-launch the Whisk & Ladle here in our Williamsburg loft. That fall we hosted our first W&L here in this space. It was a mixer, and the aim was to tell people what our intentions were for the supper club. It was a total success and we began been hosting meals here shortly after that!
Is there a favorite event you've cooked for? Any crazy stories or disasters you can share with us?
Well there are definitely a lot of crazy stories. Amidst the more structured dinners, we've hosted loads of wacky events here: one party was themed, 'the East River Badminton Club,' and everyone was required to wear short-shorts, sunglasses, and knee socks, like it was the 1960's. We strung up a badminton net and totally tricked out the whole apartment--it was a riot. We've also hosted a bunch of New Years Eve parties, one was a formal party where we made each of our bedrooms into a different part of the party--my room was the absinthe bar, Norah's was a comedy club, Mark's was a reliquary where we just took a bunch of antique items and made up ridiculous NYC centric backstories
We've hosted an 'unofficial' CMJ event in October for the last five years. We've had the pleasure of collaborating with friends of ours from the band the Loom, who started it with us in 2007. Over the years we've had the pleasure of featuring: O'Death, Local Natives, Avan Lava, Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, The Loom, The Love Language, Reggie Watts, the Dutchess & the Duke, Races, Apes & Androids, Faux Fixto name a few. I always whip up an enormous free desserts bar and Nick serves amazing cocktails all night. It's one of our favorite events to host all year.
And to be perfectly honest, there have hardly been any 'disasters.' Sure--there's the soufflé that collapses or a dish that doesn't come out quite like you'd imagined, but we've gotten really good at thinking on our toes. We are typically able to remedy any kitchen catastrophe that occurs, and our guests are always having such a fun time they don't even notice the stress in our (open) kitchen.
Can you tell us about the process of creating the menu for each supper club dinner?
Well about a week prior to the meal, we sit down as a group, (including any 'guest chef's' that are working with us), and pow wow about what we feel like making. Essentially we all brainstorm on our own, and bring those ideas to the menu meeting. It's almost like we're 'pitching' new recipe/dish composition ideas to each other. Sometimes the group loves a new idea--and other times the person pitching really needs to sell their idea hard. At times Mark comes up with combinations that sound really wacky, but theyre ALWAYS killer. Someones gotta play the devils advocate. Once we finalize the menu we delegate prep and grocery shopping duties, and get down to business.
You run a tutoring business as well, how do you balance your time?
That's a very good question--and although City Smarts has been in business for six years, there were many years in the beginning where Mark and I weren't pushing ourselves to 'grow' the business because we were so heavily invested in the Whisk & Ladle. We loved what we do (and still do now), and developed a balance where we were working hard teaching--but had also created a lifestyle that allowed us to have this very very time consuming creative endeavor on the side. About two and a half years ago that balance started to shift--Mark and I decided that we wanted to make a concerted effort to put more of our energies into the business--into our livelihoods! That Whisk & Ladle is an amazing part of our lives and always will be--but that it was time to scale that back a bit and focus more on our company--and we've really made some progress with City Smarts in the last three years. Now we do dinners roughly every two months.
Your ideal Spring day?
Taking my bike for a spin, stopping at Blue Bottle coffee for a cup, having a leisurely chat with a friend in the sunshine, heading to the park on the river for a picnic with my boyfriend (prepared by moi), laying in the grass with a crossword, a late afternoon yoga class.. a trip to the market and having a relaxed BBQ on my boyfriends killer rooftop for dinner, rose & friends included. This would be a Friday, which is one of my days off.
Who's your girl crush?
The lead singer of Little Dragon, Yukimi Nagano kind of blows me away with her NOT TRYING AT ALL/subtle sex appeal-- but as cheesy as it sounds, my close girlfriends are a fierce bunch and they all inspire me in a multitude of ways. However, if I had to pinpoint it it's the mothers of my students that I really admire so much. Most of them are just absolutely incredible women who have careers of their own, run their house- holds, cart their kids to and fro, cook their families great meals and some of them do it with an ease that's astounding.
Photo by Amelia Coulter
Are you are wondering 'how the hell did she make that delicious ice cream?' Lucky for you she shares her recipe and other fun treats here.