A Magical Flower-Filled Dinner with Chef Loria Stern


I’ll always remember sitting right down to lunch underneath enormous oak timber on a ranch in southern California and being rendered speechless by essentially the most stunning flower-adorned meals I’d ever laid eyes on.

Roasted sides of untamed salmon showered with herbs, carrots with dandelion chimichurri, preserved lemon couscous with fried capers… I shortly realized that turning seasonal natural meals into edible artworks is a signature transfer of chef Loria Stern.

After the lunch, I discovered her within the kitchen (the place she was busy placing the ending touches on this cake) to inform her how a lot I loved the meal, and instantly fell in love together with her infectious snort and whole love of life. Loria shared her ardour for working with native farmers (she’s primarily based in Santa Barbara) to search out essentially the most stunning and healthful uncooked supplies that make up her colourful menus. After all I couldn’t wait to learn the way she entertains at dwelling, so Loria invited us over for one in all her signature “Magic Carpet Dinners.”

Scroll on for particulars from the night, plus my interview with Loria and the recipe for her one-of-a-kind fried flowers.

Loria wears a classic gown handed down from her Gramma Flora, who sewed it herself within the sixties.

By the seems to be of it, you’re dwelling my hippy California back-to-nature dream life. I’m jealous! What does a typical day appear to be for you?

I assume by some requirements you would say my life is fairly hippie! Though extra so, I’d say my life is extra old-worldly as I spend lots of time on my backyard, in my studio stitching or portray, working my enterprise, and testing new recipes by which function home made and plenty of homegrown components. A mean weekday seems to be like this: waking as much as a cup of espresso, feeding my canaries, and watering and observing my backyard. By now it’s already 10am so I head to the kitchen the place we make my flower pressed shortbread cookies. I bake with my workers, reply emails, do stock, and many others., after which unexpectedly it’s 5pm.

If it’s Tuesday or Thursday, I’ll head to the tennis membership and play in a clinic– years in the past I used to be a semi-professional tennis participant so it’s enjoyable to nonetheless have the ability to play. On Monday or Wednesday, I’ll head to the fitness center and work out for an hour or so. Train is extraordinarily necessary for my well-being so I attempt to slot in a sweat it doesn’t matter what’s occurring.

After I met you final spring, I used to be struck by how stunning your meals was – and that was even earlier than I tasted it! How do you strategy the visible points of a dish?

Thanks a lot! I’ve many methods for plating meals, though largely I attempt to pair components collectively which might be complimentary in coloration. I attempt to organize a plate in a approach that the colours of the components actually pop.

Loria lately launched her first cookbook, Citri — an ode to Citrus! Test it out right here.

Any suggestions for at-home cooks in the case of making their meals look stunning?

The simplest tip that involves thoughts is to not attempt to place components, however quite allow them to dance out of your arms. For instance, for those who’re topping a dish with parsley, collect your handful and let it drop out of your hand all of sudden excessive above your dish, quite than painstakingly arranging. I’ve discovered this method to make the presentation look extra pure, if that is smart!

How do you get impressed to create new recipes?

I’m at the beginning impressed by components themselves. I additionally love combining completely different textures of meals and balancing candy and savory in sudden methods. Wholesome dishes are how I prefer to eat, so that’s how I feed others. In my recipes you’ll by no means discover processed components, chemical meals coloring or something with a gmo. I like clear consuming, so after I see a recipe, I all the time suppose to myself– how would I make this extra wholesome and aesthetically pleasing?

Above, jewellery designer Sophie Monet and florist Sophia Moreno-Bunge collect flowers collectively. These two have been mates since elementary college!

For tonight’s gathering, Loria celebrated two mates’ birthdays with one in all her signature Magic Carpet Dinners that she’s been internet hosting for the previous a number of years. The preliminary concept for the dinners was impressed by her lack of a correct eating room desk. She began serving meals on a rug and invited friends to take a seat on the ground. Company kick off their footwear and embrace the informal environment, and her spiced and unique meals provides simply the precise contact of “magic.”

What’s your greatest tip for purchasing on the farmer’s market and cooking with the seasons?

Experiment! Purchase a brand new ingredient each week that you just’ve by no means cooked with earlier than and check out a brand new recipe. That’s one certain technique to get out of these occasions while you really feel such as you’re in a cooking rut!

What’s your most important merchandise for internet hosting a gathering?

My first important merchandise is my perspective!

Being excited and feeling grateful that mates are coming over to take pleasure in meals with me and never stressing is vital. Even when I’m approach not on time, or folks cancel final minute, I attempt to simply take pleasure in no matter does find yourself taking place, even when that’s simply two mates and an enormous feast of meals.

Though usually, I consider that if the host is relaxed and having a very good time, then that units the tone for the gathering and places friends comfy to take pleasure in themselves absolutely. Apart from that, I believe that having snacks out and drinks when friends arrive can also be essential. Whether or not it’s a grazing platter or a bowl of toasted nuts, I all the time prefer to have one thing prepared for friends to snack on.

Company sipped glowing water, glowing wine, and hibiscus lavender lemonade.

On tonight’s dinner menu:


  • Colourful Crudités with Spiced Lentil Dip
  • Sumac Zucchini Chips + Rosemary Dehydrated Olives
  • Nut Cheese Platter with recent + dried fruits, home spiced nuts, saffron almond crackers (Macadamia Purple Cabbage Nut Cheese)

Most important:

  • Fried flowers
  • Smokey Eggplant
  • Kaffir Lime Coconut Rice
  • Wildflower Salad + Spiced French dressing


  • Ginger Date Fennel Flower
  • Opal Basil Toum
  • Cashew Cucumber Raita
  • Salty Onion Pickle

How unbelievable are these fried flowers?! Scroll to the underside of the submit for the recipe.

Go-to hostess outfit:

An extended gown and barefoot. I like sporting my hair down when internet hosting so I attempt to have a lot of the meals ready earlier than friends arrive.

What would we all the time discover in your fridge or pantry?

  • espresso (Ethiopian mix)
  • home made dips and dressings (presently tremendous into chimichurri and toum–which is a lebanese garlic dip)
  • eggs
  • leafy greens
  • good high quality olive oil
  • maple syrup / honey
  • nuts

Top-of-the-line meals of your life that you just’ll always remember:

I’ve had a pair. Most lately it was in a small city exterior of Mexico Metropolis the place there was a aspect of the highway out of doors spot that served essentially the most scrumptious barbacoa. The whole expertise was memorable.

Above, photographer Tessa Neustadt serving meals.

Dream feast friends:

Undoubtedly Jay Z and Beyonce. I’d additionally like to cook dinner for Alice Waters, Ira Glass, Oprah, and Elton John.

Loria’s flower-pressed shortbread cookies have turn into Web well-known, and for good motive. Although extensively imitated, I can attest from expertise: the unbelievable style of Loria’s have an alchemy all their very own.

What’s the key to an incredible occasion?

Loads of meals and beverage. There’s nothing worse than working out of both! Though for those who do, it’s okay and other people will perceive. So then that takes us again to having an incredible perspective and feeling relaxed and pleased whereas internet hosting.

Above: Photographer and stylist Stephanie Szerlip holding Loria’s signature flower cookies. Handmade plate is by Mt. Washington Pottery.

Favourite spots in Santa Barbara:

Loquita is one in all my favourite eating places right here– the meals is korean impressed spanish tapas and it’s scrumptious. I additionally love getting a contented hour drink on the new resort Rosewood Miramar, you are feeling such as you’re transported to a different time.

For dessert, Loria let friends DIY their ice cream sundaes— Do-it-yourself Ice Cream flavors included:

  • butterfly blue pea, thai tea lily, rose petal
  • toasted pistachios
  • raspberry rose compote
  • cardamom fennel cookies pressed with firestix

How do you reside life such as you imply it on daily basis?

By doing what I really like on a regular basis, which typically is working with my arms within the kitchen.

Thanks Loria, we’re already wanting ahead to our subsequent go to! You possibly can observe her on Instagram right here.


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