Food is a great unifier, and Olivia Muniak's life's work is a testament to the power of coming together over a delicious meal. The chef and entertaining expert is the founder of Supper Club, "a food and wine experience centered around meaningful conversation at the table." Raised in Manhattan amidst the hustle and bustle of the NYC restaurant industry, Olivia has forged a career path through different creative lenses. After her move to Los Angeles, it was her turn into producing events where she could hone in on her passion and strengths: designing and hosting intimate, delicious, and visually stunning culinary experiences. As she notes to us during our recent visit to her new home, those experiences she creates are centered around the feeling of community, deep conversations, and laughter amongst the guests sitting around the dinner table.
The culmination of a culinary experience like that takes plenty of care, thought, and preparation. In fact, as the entertaining expert mentions a few times during our visit and shoot, "preparation is the key." Whether it's for a dinner party, having a few friends over for cocktails, or preparing for a full holiday dinner, the best way to actually enjoy hosting is by doing the heavy lifting in advance. That means making desserts the night before, cooking before guests arrive, setting out the plates and serveware, and batch-making cocktails or having a make-it-yourself bar at the ready. To help kickstart your fall hosting planning, she has provided a recipe for her signature Bianco Negroni. Read on for our entire conversation with Olivia, see her cocktail recipe, and watch our reels and TikTok videos to get more entertaining inspiration this season.
You're a chef, an entertaining expert, and you run a successful event and catering brand. Tell us how you got your start and your creative path.
It was not a straight path—more a peeling back of the layers of an onion. My early career toggled between creative freelance work, styling shoots, brand marketing, and a bit of showroom account management. It felt like a series of left turns until I began working in events and launched Supper Club. I was on a quest to forge a creative path that utilized all my strengths and combined everything I loved to do.
After moving to Los Angeles in 2017, I landed a gig producing events for Moët Hennessy. The events were an exciting mix of food, wine, and extraordinarily curated guest experiences. During that time, I had purchased "the casita," and in my spare time, I shared recipes that I was cooking up at home for friends and dinner parties and my process of designing my house on a dime. I was still finding my footing in LA and was craving connection and friendship in my new city. I had an idea over dinner to launch "Supper Club," a food and wine experience centered around meaningful conversation at the table. I began hosting 30-person, five-course meals out of my tiny backyard in West Adams. Soon brands started to reach out to me to design and host similar experiences for them, and my business was born.
You're a New York native, now LA-based, yet the experiences you create in your work revolve around a slower, more intentional pace. Could you speak to that wonderful dichotomy?
I love this question! My experience growing up in Manhattan in the restaurant business with an immigrant father has given me that New York "hustle and drive." No matter who you are or where you come from, a table with a thoughtfully prepared meal is soothing, and there is a place for everyone—food is a great unifier. When I began Supper Club, I was thinking specifically about that particular moment after the meal when it feels as though there is a lull in time, and the conversation is as good as the wine—that is the magic of the dinners, and I strive to recreate that at every dinner I do.
What is your approach to planning a dinner party? What principles do you always strive to incorporate into your events?
Preparation is key. I cannot help but wear my production hat even when I invite friends to dinner at home. I have a few rules that I live by so I can relax and enjoy the meal with my friends!
- 1. Grocery shop at least one day before
- 2. Make the dessert a night ahead, or opt for one that you can bake while you're eating (check out my baked apples in amaretto which also works for any peak-season fruit)
- 3. Do all the messy food preparation after grocery shopping or the morning of dinner. A lot can be made in advance: sauces, toppings, dessert. You can par-cook meat and vegetables and finish them off when you're ready to serve, or cook thoroughly and serve at room temperature.
- 4. Cocktail mixes can be made in a batch; classic cocktails can be ready to serve.
- 5. Clean the kitchen, set the table, set out serving platters, and (this is key!) empty the dishwasher in the late afternoon
- 6. Relax, disco-nap, and get ready.
- 7. Have an aperitivo with your guests before you step back into the kitchen.
What are your three must-haves for the perfect Fall cocktail party?
- 1. Make-It-Yourself Classic Cocktail Bar: Martinis, Manhattans, and Negronis.
- 2. Creative Appetizers: mini mushroom toasts, fried sage leaves, and caviar chips and dip
- 3. Set the Scene: appetizer plates, cocktail napkins, and fun cocktail glassware—never anything disposable!—and, of course, ambient (scent-free) candle lighting
In Aperitif culture, you typically enjoy your cocktail with a snack. Are there any food and drink combinations you have been loving recently?
Fried Sage Leaves with Bianco Negroni: this is a lighter and more citrus-forward version of a classic negroni which can be too bitter for some people. The fried sage leaves are a fancy potato chip—salty, crunchy, and herbaceous.
Congrats on moving into your new home! What space have you been most excited about styling?
I moved in right at the beginning of summer. And I like to make thoughtful decisions about furnishing a space. It's easy to make decisions you later regret when you impulse buy before living in and learning to use a new space. The living room, which I just furnished, is great for the cooler months, with a fireplace, turntable, and two comfortable sofas for entertaining. Stylewise I wanted my new place to feel very different from my last home, which had a typically California beachy, white design. Here I used deep rosy-red velvet for the sofas, paired with the pecan tones of the Sian Sideboard and black marble Killian Side Table. The overall look is bold and cozy. The coffee table is a vintage table from my father. I love being able to use those family pieces every day.
We love how you styled our Sian Sideboard in your living room. How do you plan to incorporate this piece while you host and entertain?
This was the piece I designed the whole room around—the space is longer than it is wide, so I knew I needed an anchor point in the room. I hung a large brass mirror above it and planned to use it as my bar, as this is the main area I like to sit with friends. My best friend just gave me a turntable and speakers, and I have a collection of vintage records, so this all sits atop the sideboard, too. I put the marble side tables next to each sofa as a drink table.
Being located in the heart of LA, do you have any local shops or restaurants you frequent?
My favorite LA restaurants can be found on this list. These are by no means new, but they are the places I always go to. My favorite new food discovery is the tuna melt at Croft Alley, just down the street from me. (Bonus: I can actually walk there!) For the best cocktail ingredients, I shop at Bitters & Bottles online.
What holiday traditions are you looking forward to the most this holiday season?
My parents are divorced, and none of my siblings live in the same city, so our holiday celebrations are different every year. The one thing I always do is watch Julie & Julia with my mom and make Boeuf Bourguignon with risotto on Christmas Eve. It's my brother's favorite; whether we celebrate together or not, I still make it.
What is next for you and your business, and what upcoming projects are you most looking forward to?
I have been working on a new website for months—a destination for all things food, entertaining, and events. Plus, I am launching a tableware collection: linens, dishes, and curated items for the table and home. I'm so ready to see it all finally come together and go live!
1.5 London Dry Gin
0.75 oz Cocchi Americano
0.5 oz Blanc Vermouth
Lemon or grapefruit peel for garnish
Build in a rocks glass over ice, stir and garnish with citrus peel.