UK

Every time I open a Mixed Session I get nervous. When I kick off the evening, I go back to the memories of the creative process.

The theme, the cook, the venue, the artist, the menu, the drinks, the design, the soundtrack… It takes a a lot of prep and a few steps until we get to those unforgettable hours.

It is intense, but also very much fun and delicious.

Exactly a week ago we had the Mixed Sessions: Women of the World edition in Norwich – fondly named WOW. This was our first popup opened to guests.

Before that, we hosted a private event for the Naked Wines staff which we named Naked Boteco, inspired by Brazilian pub traditions.

It all started earlier this year through networking, discovering common passions and finding similar desires.

Took me only a few minutes to see that my encounter with the caribbean diva Julia La Ronde, owner of the rum brand Sisserou, which story you can remember here, was meant to be.

Erika Mizun, founder of the Tea Agency, responsible for the the communication of the WOW; me and Julia La Ronde.

What we never thought was that we would have so many barriers to overcome until that 5th October.

Close to the event, the island of Dominica, where Julia was born, was crushed by hurricane Maria. Family and friends survived, but their homes were seriously damaged.

We decided to move forward and bring our men and women together to raise funds for Julia’s family recovery.

Then we had our dear musical attraction of the night, Samia Malik, suddenly facing a very difficult personal situation which resulted in her canceling the performance. We understood and sent her our love and compassion.

MORE THAN EVER we had to do it. We had to it for Samia too. For her to know that she would be in our thoughts.

Another BUT on the way. One more chapter to the saga. Our replacement, Maggie May-Francis, fell a day before with a bad cold.

Togetherness… Means loads!

Destiny – and friendship – brought us Emma Nuule, a gorgeous soprano interpreting Puccini, Schubert and others, making me cry when I found myself lucky trapped at the conservatory, her stage.

Ladies and gentlemen: Emma Nuule.

Julia preferred to have freedom to design the menu, so everything was decided last minute. She wanted to have the chance to play around with fresh ingredients and with different couisines, different worlds she has visited through eating and cooking.

A bit of caribbean, a lot of Mediterranean, a pinch of indian…

All of a sudden she turned a 3 course menu into 4, like this, snapping her fingers while the guests were arriving. Such beauty and energy pouring from the pans, coming from the aromatic kitchen!

Pakoras with Julia’s signature tomato sauce to start, a delicate gentle soup to continue, lamb and chickpea with spinach and lemon for main, pineapple tart with an incredible Sisserou ice-cream to finish.

Guests standing, soundtrack gently embracing, wine carafes flowing, plates coming and going…

I swear I saw someone secretly dancing.

WOW!