The Making Of
Apartamento's Tasca Dinner

Most people run around during ICFF frantically gathering design leads. But for Apartamento editor Marco Velardi, it was zucchini — about 6 pounds per night, to be exact. Tasked with organizing three dinners during the furniture fair in New York, “I had to pick them every day, individually, choosing ones that weren’t too big or too fucked up as the skin was an important part of the dish,” he says. “I got to know all the guys working in the fresh veggie department at Whole Foods, and I imagine they thought I was the crazy zucchini guy when I kept asking for more.” The summer squash became a salad doused with lemon and olive oil, the second of four courses at the dinner Sight Unseen attended this past Sunday along with Todd Selby, Rich Brilliant Willing, the editors of Dossier, and half a dozen other New York creatives. Velardi slaved away in the kitchen, churning out asparagus risotto and a peaches-and-cream parfait while his co-directors, photographer Nacho Alegre and designer Omar Sosa, kept the wine flowing.

The dinners were the third in an ongoing series called “Tasca: Everyday Life Recipes,” for which the Spanish/Italian interiors magazine travels to a design event — Tokyo Design Week, Milan’s Salone del Mobile, and now ICFF — and cooks free meals for friends and past story subjects, the recipes chosen and tested with food editor Leen Hilde Haesen. In New York, Tasca took place at the East Village gallery Ed. Varie, run by Karen Schaupeter and publisher Nick Neubeck of Seems Books. Besides all the scrambling for ingredients — which also included a total of 17 pounds of arborio rice, 8 bunches of asparagus, a gallon of extra virgin olive oil, 40 lemons, 30 pears, and nearly 5 pounds of brie — there was the matter of turning the gallery into a working kitchen. “There were no chairs, tables, hot plates, or sinks when I got into the space two days before Tasca, but somehow thanks to Karen and Nick it all managed to come together,” Velardi reports. “The sink was quite some trouble to put up. Nick installed it and did the plumbing himself.” Velardi was equally scrappy, smuggling 4 pounds each of parmigiano and Lavazza coffee into the country with him from Milan.

In the end, the dinner was not only a more intimate way of launching the magazine’s fifth issue (check it out here), it was also a nice chance to wind down and discuss the finer points of what we’d all seen during the city’s best design week in recent memory. Check out photos of the Apartamento dinner here, then come back tomorrow for a glimpse into how Sight Unseen did our own part to make ICFF 2010 a success.

recipes

The prep list, menu, and choreography for the evening's meal.

briantable

The crowd — including Todd Selby, Dossier, Rich Brilliant Willing, and Black Frame's Brian Phillips — drank BYOB wine while awaiting the first course.

oliveoil

The Trader Joe's olive oil on the table (served in Iittala espresso cups for dipping) was made infinitely more impressive with a little lemon, salt, and pepper.

veggies

teamcooking2

The line consisted of Apartamento editor Marco Velardi on the left, with Karen from Ed. Varie to the right.

teamcooking3

Observing in the background was Apartamento co-director Omar Sosa.

butterwrapping

The key ingredient: butter, which makes risotto thicker and creamier.

risotto2

rissoto

asparagus

Asparagus tips waiting to be sprinkled on top of each bowl.

marconapkin

Velardi shields himself from the camera with his apron.

hotpotato2

The candleholders were carved out of apples and potatos — a design first employed by Max Lamb for the Tasca dinner in Milan in April. (This one accidentally caught fire.)

table

nacho

Apartamento co-director Nacho Alegre.

kristintable

Some fled home before dessert, wary of the impending Monday morning.

bialetti

For the rest, Italian coffee, part of a small homage to Velardi's home country.