• entertaining with
    ENTERTAINING WITH PATRICK JANELLE
    CFDA's inaugural "Instagrammer of the Year" shows how he entertains for hundreds, and for a small group of friends in his Soho backyard.
    April 23, 2015  |  BY TARIQ DIXON
    Our day with Patrick began at 5am in New York City's Flower District, just as the sun began to peek over the Midtown skyline. He was gathering flowers for the evening's Spring Street Social Society dinner - an event series he co-founded that "brings people together in unexpected spaces." Birthed as an informal cabaret in his Nolita backyard, SSSS (for short) has evolved into a four-night long, nearly five hundred person affair. While food is central to the evening's agenda, SSSS considers sight, sound and motion equally important to the dining experience. Always seeking to surprise, past events have included acapella-singing busboys, knife jugglers and ukelele tunes by Patrick's co-host, Amy. In the spirit of serendipity, guests are notified of the venue the morning of, inviting them to an unconventional, raw space, transformed by the people and the energy of the event.

    But this time around, the host himself was met with a surprise. Just two days prior, the planned venue backed away, leaving Patrick to frantically find an equally interesting (and large enough) space. As we arrive to the flower district, we reluctantly ask, "Any luck?" Still unnerved, yet relieved, Patrick managed to secure a banquet room at the Highline Hotel - a former monastery, newly converted into a boutique hotel, but with its original structure (and some furnishings) respectfully maintained.

    We follow Patrick to the venue, as he transforms the former basement gym into a still-recognizable, yet completely evolved space.

    Once a graphic designer for Bon Appetit, Patrick has a natural design sensibility, evident from the self-made floral arrangements to his un-traditional choice of tableware. But we (along with 250K+ other people) came to know Patrick through his Instagram account, modestly called @aguynamedpatrick. He considers his artfully-curated Instagram account a personal journal, chronicling his food explorations, travels and an insider's view of fashion, as CFDA's inaugural "Instagrammer of the Year."

    Curious to see beyond the glimpses from Instagram, I visited Patrick at home, while he hosted a small dinner party in his backyard. Although modest in scale in comparison to the recent dinner party for SSSS, Patrick applies the same attention to detail and warm hospitality to every occasion. I quietly snapped photos from the background, as Patrick treated his friends to a beautiful spread of charcuterie, crostinis, heirloom tomato salad and poached salmon. Although I made my way before the evening completely drew to a close, the merriment undoubtedly continued, as Patrick and friends laughed, drank and instagrammed (naturally) well into the evening.
  • GIVEN THE BREADTH OF YOUR WORK, HOW DOES IT ALL RELATE? HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE YOUR "PERSONAL BRAND"?

    My brand is about a well curated, but thoughtful, lifestyle. Each activity I'm involved in highlights a facet of that lifestyle: food, fashion, and travel. It's an aspirational brand, but one that is also very attainable because it's ultimately about seeking out beautiful, meaningful experiences.

  • WHAT'S THE BACKSTORY ON SPRING ST. SOCIAL SOCIETY?

    Spring St. Social Society (SSSS) started in my backyard - on Spring Street in Nolita. I had recently met my partner, Amy Virginia Buchanan, at a neighborhood coffee shop when I decided I wanted throw a party, put in a show, and use my backyard deck as a stage. Amy has strong ties to the New York performing world, and she helped us to book a number of people for the first show. Since then, we've outgrown the space, added a dining component, upped the production value, and now move to various places around Manhattan.

  • The space is the most important thing because we design our gatherings around it - what we do is site-specific.

  • WHAT CHARACTERISTICS DO YOU LOOK FOR IN A VENUE?

    The space is the most important thing because we design our gatherings around it - what we do is site-specific. I look for a place that has a strong character as it is, so that any design elements are minimal. We also do our best to not book traditional event venues. Instead, we search for private, unused spaces. I gravitate towards a very raw, stripped down aesthetic, so guests feel like they're stepping into a secret, almost forbidden, hidden place. The best part is, all of this could change on a dime, so the guests (and sometimes even we ourselves!) don't know what we're going to get.

  • WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE MOST IMPORTANT QUALITIES OF A GOOD HOST? OF A GOOD PARTY?

    It's important to pay attention to detail. It's the small things that matter - the soap in the bathrooms, the quality of the silverware, the lighting, the music. I think about the guest experience from the time they arrive - What's the first thing that happens? What can I do to welcome them? How can I make them comfortable and create an engaging environment for people to connect? The most important quality, though, is to keep your cool. Things will go wrong, and that's ok. Smile and take care of it. A happy host makes for happy guests.

  • I look for a place that has a strong character as it is, so that any design elements are minimal.

  • It's important to pay attention to detail. It's the small things that matter - the soap in the bathrooms, the quality of the silverware, the lighting, the music.

  • Things will go wrong, and that's ok. Smile and take care of it. A happy host makes for happy guests.

  • HOW OFTEN DO YOU HOST DINNER PARTIES? IS THERE A SPECIAL OCCASION TONIGHT?

    No, there isn't really an occasion. A friend of mine recently hosted me in the Hamptons and I wanted to do something nice in return. But I have a different group of friends coming as well. But you know, I don't entertain nearly as often as I would like. Another reason I'm doing this is because I realized that I don't take enough advantage of the outdoor space. I have a small apartment, so I really only have a few months out of the year to entertain. I'm really trying to make a point of taking full advantage over the next couple of weeks.

  • HOW MUCH PREPARATION TIME IS INVOLVED? ASIDE FROM THE FLOWERS, DO YOU DO ANY OTHER DECORATING?

    I should have started prepping yesterday, but instead, I went to a meeting, went to the store, then came home and starting prepping. I tend to do things a little last minute, but since I'm a freelancer, I have a really flexible schedule. You could definitely make it into a full day's worth of work, but it doesn't have to be so involved. This time around, I probably only spend four hours in total on the food prep.

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  • I think about the guest experience from the time they arrive - what's the first thing that happens? What can I do to welcome them?

  • My brand is about a well curated, but thoughtful, lifestyle...it's ultimately about seeking out beautiful, meaningful experiences.

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