We’ve teamed up with the audio innovators at Sonos to present Groove With The Seasons, a video series that showcases experts creating memorable hosting moments with the help of Sonos speakers.
I’ve always loved hosting. As the daughter of a caterer, I guess this was a sort of inescapable fate, and I’m not complaining. When I was little I’d set up full-blown events for my Barbie dolls—there was nothing casual about the weddings and tea parties I staged. And now, as an actual adult who’s replaced her dolls with an apartment full of carefully curated trinkets, the host in me is thriving.
If you, too, are a host with the most, then you know that one of the best ways to hone your hosting skills is to convene with other such hosts. Trade tips! Talk shop! I sat down with recipe developer (and model and social media star) Pierce Abernathy to chat about how he creates the ultimate summer hang with snacks, sips, and cool tunes from Sonos.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
MADISON TRAPKIN: What are your top tips for warm weather gatherings?
PIERCE ABERNATHY: If you’re going to be outside, always make sure everyone’s comfortable. If you’re in a park, bring enough blankets, bring chairs, and if you’re going to be outside, make sure there’s shade close by. Make sure beverages are flowing, and not just the alcohol. Make sure everyone’s drinking water, too. Sunscreen and hydration—my two main tips.
MT: It sounds like you’ve got the right idea. So you’re hosting folks at your apartment this summer, or you might do a park hang—what are you cooking?
PA: I feel like outdoor dining really lends itself to potluck-style for sure. Grilling is always a big thing, and sometimes in New York you’re not able to do that. So a lot of cold dishes, a lot of dips, salads, things that can be eaten at room temperature or eaten cold. So for me, it’s like okay, a charcuterie board, salads, dips, breads, fruit.
MT: If you have a grill, what are you grilling?
PA: I mean, I love grilling seafood. I do eat meat, but I don’t share a lot of meat recipes. And my favorite thing to grill is whole fish. I think it’s perfect for having people over, it’s kind of show stopping. You can char some citrus with it and then make a beautiful tablescape with all your different sides, whether you’re doing grain salads or bread or whatever. So I love that, but I also love charring vegetables, charring fresh summer tomatoes. Let’s see, zucchini or some sort of squash is pretty much always on the grill during the summer for me too.
MT: I mean, there’s no limit to how much grilled squash I can eat during the summer.
PA: Yeah, my favorite is when I can find them at the farmer’s market, the baby squash and the baby eggplant. It’s like, okay, salt, oil, and a little bit of acid, whether it’s vinegar or citrus, and every vegetable off the grill is going to taste fantastic. Pretty much once a week I will grill scallions, green onions, or spring onions and make some sort of charred scallion salsa verde thing. And whether that sauce is going on fish, or it’s a dip for vegetables, or you’re adding anchovies for a Bagna Cauda riff or something like that, I think charred scallions are the perfect vehicle to start a summer dish.
MT: That is a hot tip. What drinks are you serving? You mentioned water, but what’s your ideal summer beverage when you’re not focused on hydrating?
PA: I mean, I do love wine.
MT: I love only wine, that’s it.
PA: Yeah, pretty much the same. We’ll do alcoholic, then non-alcoholic. So alcoholic, a lot of Pet-Nats. I love chillable reds—I’ve been really into Gamay and wines from the Beaujolais region. Orange wine is always a hit for everyone, especially people who are being introduced to natural wine for the first time. In terms of other drinks, always some sort of spicy margarita. Whether it’s an actual spicy margarita or if it’s some sort of mezcal or tequila with citrus and a little sugar.
And then for non-alcoholic, I’ve been recently into basically making my own soda—you just need to buy some San Pellegrino or a big bottle of seltzer and infuse a simple syrup. However sweet you want it, you can make a simple syrup with ginger and basil and maybe muddle some strawberry or raspberry. Just pop that in with the seltzer and you have a fresh summer soda.
MT: That all sounds so refreshing and perfect for a rooftop hang. What do you listen to when you cook? What inspires you in the kitchen when you’re dreaming up your menus?
PA: If there’s a rough theme for the party and the theme is, for instance, martinis where it’s like, okay, let’s lean into a French or Italian kind of classic music style. I think when it’s warm out and I’m cooking for friends and I’m not feeling stressed, for me, I always go back to kind of funk and soul where I can put on a playlist where I can know the lyrics of half the songs, but also the rest are just kind of bangers that are bringing up my mood.
Me being in a good mood and playing good music will be reflected in the food. And if I’m not in that same space, the food is going to end up not being as good, I’m not going to be as happy, and then I won’t be as good of a host. I think music plays such a big part in all of that for me. For times where I’m like, okay, I need to prep for a popup or I’m doing something super meticulous like peeling a hundred fava beans to make my Creamy Fava Bean & Avocado Dip. Then maybe I’m going to get into some house music or electronic music, something a little more ambient or instrumental where I can just kind of zone out for a task that’s a little more in depth.
MT: Totally, music is so important for ambiance, and it’s great that Sonos has portable options so you can take the party with you. Where are you taking your Move this summer?
PA: I’m moving it directly out to my beautiful new deck and balcony where I’ll be hosting dinner parties. And the nicest thing too, it connects to my Sonos Five, so I can be playing music inside and outside simultaneously. Same vibes, it’s perfect.
MT: So perfect, like a never-ending party vibe. Do you dabble into Sonos Radio?
PA: Definitely—I’m a person who can get overwhelmed trying to make a choice, same as when I’m watching TV, so it’s nice to be able to just put on a Sonos Radio station and know generally that the music is going to be in a given style or genre. For me, especially when I’m sitting down to have dinner, I love the Smooth Jazz station. Boom, done, easy. Just putting on something a little jazzy, a little quiet, something with piano. And I know Sonos has a great station for that.
MT: Do you have a quintessential summer song?
PA: Yeah. A few. “Tripping Out” by Curtis Mayfield. It’s the vibe. Also, I’ve been really into Parcels recently because it’s just these guys making fun music and it’s great. I also love “Every Day Dream” by Menahan Street Band.
MT: Very solid choices. Any other final thoughts on summer hosting?
PA: Don’t skip the dip.
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