Karen Mordechai is the photographer and owner behind Sunday Suppers – the series of lively, experimental dinners and website that focuses on the traditions surrounding food and community. What started as casual dinners hosted by Karen and her husband in their apartment back in 2009 has transformed into a business of incredible community feasts, artisanal items for sale, great recipes and a communal cooking center in Brooklyn. A website, Sunday-Suppers.com is filled with beautiful photography of food and small details that can make a dinner table extraordinary. Sunday Suppers are held in an incredible space in Williamsburg, Brooklyn that allows its guests to come together for a unique dining experience that’s said to be centered around a focus on “simplicity and a love for food.”
Tell us a bit about yourself and background. What led you to start Sunday Suppers?
In the Spring of 2009 my husband and I started hosting communal cooking dinners in our apartment. The dinners were taught by a guest chef - we sourced local and seasonal ingredients, set a table and dined together. We started a blog for photos and recipes from the dinners. The posts started going viral, guests and strangers began emailing us to attend, and the rest is history.
What is the concept?
The concept has evolved a bit, we now host these dinners in a loft space in south Williamsburg on a more regular basis. Sunday suppers have become an opportunity to bring together food and community in a relevant and interactive sphere. But at it's crux it is the same - it is about good food and great company.
Would you say your workshops and photography go hand in hand?
Yes, absolutely. My love for food and photography have come together with the creation of Sunday Suppers. But I do love to photograph other things as well -
Namely my daughter, travels and food.
Food has become as trendy as fashion recently, what do you think provoked this movement?
I think there is a wonderful awareness to food and its beauty, both aesthetic beauty and the dignity of its sourcing. Knowing where we source our food from and its quality has become so important. And I love that the food scene is not only about going to the most avant-garde restaurants - it's about making sensible decisions for our lives and being comfortable in the kitchen. Our dinners help celebrate that notion by taking away some of the fear and anxiety of cooking. Suddenly a soufflé or homemade gnocchi may not be as intimidating to make at home on a Friday night.
You also sell kitchen and home products; do you produce these goods yourself?
Yes, we have recently started an online co-op shop. This shop was a collaboration with Simplesong Design. It will be an evolving shop with mostly handmade items, some of which we have been making in the studio(like the natural dyed linens) Going forth we plan to work with fellow artists and crafters as well.
Have you considered opening a restaurant?
Always, and I have to walk myself off that ledge every so often. But maybe someday as part of a retirement plan I would open a tiny little spot in a small off-beat town with 10 seats. We'll grow everything on premise and have a daily menu. someday.
How would you describe the New York dining culture compared to other cities?
NY is a centrifuge of people, talents, crafts and imagination - our food scene reflects that. It is energetic and exciting, and it's also very hard to keep up with!
What has been your favorite dinner to date?
We've had so many favorites. Sometimes it's the crowd or the chef that creates a magical evening. But I think the most memorable for me is the first dinner. There was no expectation, we put together two rickety wooden tables, mismatched chairs and china. We cooked and dined and made a toast as the sun set. I remember that one distinctly.
What’s always in your fridge?
My fridge is embarrassingly fully-stocked. Our weeks are quite busy and we cook almost all of our meals at home - so I try to make a large pot of grains for the week and I I always have tons of vegetables around: greens, lemons, mushrooms, herbs and such. Bare necessities are: milk, eggs, butter, lemons, kale and avocados.
What are your plans/dreams/goals for the next five to 10 years?
Oh I'm not sure, I have a book coming out in the fall and I think I'd like to do more print work. I'd love to travel more and maybe take some Sunday Suppers on the road.
Photo of Karen by Jen Causey; all other photos by Karen Mordechai-Sunday Supper