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FEATURES-You're Invited

    In her tome on personal contentment, The Happiness Project, American author Gretchen Rubin muses that hosting a party produces a “fog happiness” because it’s a satisfaction that arrives after everyone has left. The “fog” of hosting a party is challenging to navigate in the moment, while you’re preoccupied with the execution of details and the guests’ enjoyment of the evening, but you’re glad you did it once it’s all over. What characterizes the satisfaction that comes from entertaining in your home? We asked three hosts, and each had both practical and whimsical responses.
A group of successful professionals with young children appreciate good food and great wine and the freedom that comes with hosting friends at home. It allows them to set the menu, pair it with interesting wine and adult conversation, while the children find their own place in the party with juice boxes and a game of tag with the family dog.
A Barriefield house is the perfect setting for long-time friends to demonstrate their well-defined talent for presentation. They travel together, share professional interests, and their dinner chatter is a combination of analytical conversation and nostalgia. They host parties because they’re not in a rush and home is the perfect place to linger over dessert.
Finally, there are those who make hospitality their business, and returning to a restaurant can be a little too reminiscent of work. Restaurateurs, sommeliers and hospitality professionals get together to show off and share their culinary skills because a love of coming together at the table is what drew them to the industry. Outside of the workplace, there’s camaraderie and maybe just a little bravado when the boys are in the kitchen.
Kingston Life got a peek at how people come together over a table and the “why” of entertaining at home became obvious. We host because we care, and it’s an opportunity to appreciate our friends and show them our own personal take on entertaining. After all, birds of a feather flock together, and the reciprocal invitation will one day be extended back.


It’s surprising that marvelling over the quality and presentation of food, design and fashion doesn’t get in the way of socializing for this tightly knit group of professionals and parents. Though they joke about their annual camping trip as “glam-ping,” this creative crew has found the right balance of fostering their own passions and pursuits with parenting. Host Julia Sparrow brings a thoughtful and modern twist to all that she does. From her renovated Inverary farmhouse that resonates with her interest in interior design to her innovative menu, every element is executed with her unique taste and complemented by interesting finds from hunting through design stores. Julia’s guests rose to the occasion and potlucked desserts and cocktails, which included unique choices like rhubarb sours.

Hosts: Julia Sparrow, professor of fine art, St. Lawrence College; West Edwards, owner of West Edwards Engineering

Location: Inverary

Sarah Legge, mother; Lori-Jo Whitfield, behavioural therapist, Frontenac Community Mental Health Services; Zane Whitfield, owner of North of Princess Recording Studio; Jen Storey, owner of Jen Storey Designs and Dwell Boutique; Matt Legge, teacher, First Avenue Public School

Shrimp and steaks prepared on the barbeque, pâté and cheese spread with olive tray, summer tomato salad, rhubarb sours, fruit-laden angel food cake and Freemark Abbey Cabernet Sauvignon 2002

Décor: There is a modern bounty of colour amid the white farmhouse backdrop, with a mix of vintage finds, high-end pieces and savvy design. The table was bright and whimsical with abstract floral napkins, quirky por­celain pitchers and centrepieces beneath a white pendant lamp.

One more bite: The hosts pulled off the menu in spite of a power outage three days prior to the party due to


Hosts know that the perfect pairing for great wine is good friends. This group of friends has fine-tuned exceptional presentation and taste amidst a relaxed atmosphere in host Julie Holmes’ waterfront home. Careful planning and experience were evident in every crisp, clean detail. The evening began with champagne flutes and cheese selection on the porch, with a steel basin housing sparkling water for those desiring a different bubbly. For dinner, they moved to the enclosed patio for a sunset meal. The salmon and steak dinner was paired with a Barolo brought back from the group’s collective trip to Italy, and accompanying dessert was laughter over the hilarity of a kayaking-gone-awry story.

Hosts: Julie Holmes, co-owner of Yoga Studio330; Dr. Tom Holmes, Cataraqui Dental Centre

Location: Barriefield

Dr. Scott Brown, Kingston Dentists; Abby Gouett; Shari Brown,
physiotherapist, St. Mary’s Hospital; Dr. David Gouett, Kingston DentistsMenu: Assorted local cheese and charcuterie; salmon and steak on the barbeque; zucchini boats with chickpeas, goat cheese and walnuts; ratatouille; and green bean salad with mushrooms hazelnuts and Parmesan; with Abbadia Ardenga Brunello di Montalcino D.O.C.G 2003

Menu: Assorted local cheese and charcuterie; salmon and steak on the barbeque; zucchini boats with chickpeas, goat cheese and walnuts; ratatouille; and green bean salad with mushrooms hazelnuts and Parmesan; with Abbadia Ardenga Brunello di Montalcino D.O.C.G 2003

Décor: This lakeshore house features exposed beams and a rustic kitchen, complemented by classic and crisp details. The table was set with multiple glasses and bone china
for a layered and delicate effect, and the only hit of colour was the bright green of the lilies’ stems and leaves in the centrepieces.

One more bite: The bottle of Brunello paired with
dinner was picked up on a visit to the winery on their trip to Italy a few years ago. They’d been holding onto it for a special occasion.


It’s the kind of hospitality only the hospitality industry can offer when hosts An­drew Rastapkevicius and Craig Doug­­las and guests up the ante in the kitchen. The guys decompressed from cooking for others by cooking for themselves with a flute of champagne accompanying oysters and a tuna amuse-bouche, while a pink salad co-ordinated with Joie Farm Rosé to start. Skills were on display: oyster-shucking secrets, barbequing technique, plating presentation and wine selection are part of the fun because the best part of entertaining those who do it professionally is they recognize when it’s done well. These men have both an eye for design and a palate for the good things in life.

Hosts: Andrew Rastap­kevicius, sales agent, Lifford Wine Agency; Craig Douglas, senior account manager, Scott Environmental Services

Location: McBurney Park

Guests: Seamus Cowan, manager of The Cove Country Inn, Westport;
Zach Treanor, co-owner of Steel Style and Pig Iron BBQ, Gananoque; Jay Cameron, co-owner and chef at Pig Iron BBQ, Gananoque

Menu: P.E.I. oysters; tuna and avocado amuse-bouche; cheese board; watermelon, tuna and cherry tomato salad plate; sharp cheddar cheese home-style grits; barbeque chicken and ribs; with Joie Farm Rosé 2010, Heitz Cellar Zinfandel, Charles Smith Kung Fu
Girl Riesling and Norman Hardie Pinot Noir

Décor: The white rectangular and square dinnerware was balanced by the butcher-block presentation of the meat and cast-iron skillets for the homestyle grits. Industrial-chic elements included the reclaimed wood buffet and typography-inspired napkins.

One more bite: New recipes that will grace
the Pig Iron BBQ menu were tested on the table while Andrew poured 2007 Heitz Cellar Zinfandel blind, making everyone guess what it was first.