When life throws you lemons, you make lemonade. When the pandemic slammed French Kiss Events with empty plates, they created “The Proper Table,” comprising wondrous table settings with all the trimmings, from flowers to food. Necessity proves time and again to be the mother of invention.
The wedding industry was hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Wedding cancellations and postponements battered many businesses and people.
But people who were able to innovate, such as French Kiss Events founder and wedding planner Barb Walker, were a little bruised but not beaten.
Barb and partner Shara Jawl created The Proper Table in April 2020, when the pandemic caused restaurant closures and when couples cancelled or postponed their weddings—or eloped. This gave the women the idea to put together table settings and collaborate with others to deliver the full meal deal directly into homes. Couples who chose to stay home instead of “go big” still had a way to celebrate in style.
The Proper Table delivers carefully curated table settings, literally taking the stress off your plate. And add-ons elevate the experience to an amazing at-home celebration.
“Then, when restrictions were loosened up, we got calls for [help with] outdoor family celebrations such as barbecues. And that’s when we got the idea for our Supper Series,” says Barb.
The Proper Table’s Supper Series is based on food-driven destinations, she explains, adding that by partnering with Toque Catering and other local businesses, the Supper Series can “take you around the world without leaving home.”
“I once had an incredible weekend in New York, and Spanish tapas-style is my favourite way to dine. And Shara ate her way through Japan on her honeymoon,” says Barb, laughing. “So our personal experiences and culinary tastes start the menu process and the chef at Toque runs with our original ideas.”
And to enhance the ambiance, table settings, flowers and décor are also inspired by the destination.
“We’ve been to New York, Japan, Hawaii and France with Supper Series—without leaving home,” says client Tara Carere. “I loved this idea, not only because we missed going out with friends to restaurants, but also because it was put together by two amazing local women who involved and supported many vendors hit by the pandemic.”
Starting with 12 bookings, one weekend a month, Barb says, they have sold out every event.
Now they are thrilled to accommodate a few dozen more orders per event (but it’s still recommended to book earlier rather than later).
“The first time I booked the Supper Series, it was a date night with my husband Matt and it was so much fun,” says Tara. “We put the kids to bed and had the night to ourselves.”
Earlier that day, she says, Proper Table delivered three bins containing beautiful place settings, candles and flowers. There was also a cocktail mix from Twist of Fate Craft Cocktails (twistvictoria.com)—orders can include spirit or wine.
“Heating the food is straightforward,” Tara says. “Everything is labelled and you understand the order from the menu. We took our time and spent three or four hours on our dinner date. Matt said the best part was no dishes: when you are done, you scrape plates and put them back in the bin. They insist on no rinsing or washing.”
The Supper Series event that Tara and Matt enjoyed one Valentine’s Day involved their kids, ages four and six.
“We made them mac and cheese served on Proper Table’s plates and we all dressed up. It was so civilized that the kids showed up with exceptional table manners. Our daughter followed the instructions and set the table.”
Last summer, with more freedom to see people, Tara invited three couples to join them outdoors for the series’ French Provence theme.
“Barb and Shara even supplied florals to fit a longer table—it was gorgeous,” she says. “We’ll continue with the Supper Series after the pandemic.”
The latest Supper Series was inspired by famous restaurants visited by Barb and Shara.
For those of us who cannot dine at New York’s Thomas Keller’s Per Se or Eleven Madison Park, or Gjelina in California, we can still enjoy the next best thing in the comfort of home.