A Sunday Supper With Interior Designer Joe Holm

The Sunday special: food, friends, and family.

By Camille Styles
Entertaining with Joe Holm

Although Joe Holm and Mike Hondorp are technically new friends of mine, when I’m in their presence I feel like we’ve known each other for ages. Joe, interior designer for Austin firm Clayton and Little, and Mike, who works in product marketing at Instagram, have that magic combo of great style plus the ability to make everyone around them feel totally at ease. The two spent a year living in London where they soaked up a diverse set of influences that they’ve carried back to Austin and translated into an unmistakably clean and cool style that belies their globe-trotting spirit.

For today’s story, we joined them for a laughter-filled afternoon in their renovated bungalow as they prepped for the regular “Sunday Supper” they throw for a group of close friends. Kids and dogs are more than welcome, and I have a feeling that if someone invited an extra friend or two, there’d be plenty of food and an extra chair pulled up to the table.

Tell us about your house:

We were newly in love and casually looking for a house when my old boss told me there was a house down the street from him that was under construction and maybe for sale. For me, it was a dream – demo’d already and totally made for our finishing touches. Understandably, Mike was more nervous. Over the course of a year, we brought it back to life, serving as highly inexperienced GCs on a rookie job. We love the way it turned out, though, and it’s truly home.

Funny story: the day after our certificate of occupancy was approved and building permits cleared, we moved to England for a temporary assignment for Mike. It was tough leaving all that work, but great coming back to our little slice of heaven after being out of the country for a year.

Your Sunday Supper tradition?

We’ve been doing this with our friends for a while as a way to shake off the Sunday night doldrums. It’s on a rotating basis, and we just cook for each other – we might rotate on dessert or apps, but the dinner is always left to the host. We try out new dishes, we drink wine, we share our stories from the week. It keeps the “family” together.

The Menu:

Pita and Tirshi (butternut squash dip), mixed pickled veg

Pomegranate Molasses Chicken with a Bulgur Wheat Salad

Sweet Potato Gratin

Grilled dates with ice cream + feta honey cheesecake on pastry crust

What’s your go-to source for recipes? 

Ottolenghi, The Honey & Co Cookbook, New York Times Cooking section.

What scares you about entertaining?

Nothing – except maybe screwing up the timing, but that’s what notebooks and iPhones are for.  Also, I have an irrational fear that I’ll forget to hug someone when they walk in my door. Haven’t yet, but someday, I’m sure.

What’s your must-have entertaining tool? 

The apron I’ve had since I was a kiddo, an abundance of wooden spoons and spatulas, and my lovely husband by my side as co-chef and chief entertainer.

Do you reference any family traditions when you entertain?

Hells yes.

  • Music – Mike and I grew up in music-always-playing households, and that holds true in our house.
  • Midwestern comfort food – we’re both midwestern, so casseroles and our own spins on midwestern comfort food are a big thing.
  • My magic apron – I wear the same apron I’ve had since I was 7. It reminds me of my early days in the kitchen – my dad has had us cooking with him since we could walk.
  • Competitive talking – you better believe it’s hard to get a thought out because conversation gets so rambunctious. Oddly, that’s really comforting to me because that’s how dinners were when I grew up.

The perfect dinner party playlist includes:

Dinner is always soul – James Brown B-sides, Mayer Hawthorne, and The Pointer Sisters make a great Spotify station. Pre-dinner and cocktails can be a little more experimental – we’ve been into Italian 80s disco lately, which is both hilarious and fun.

What’s your standard host outfit?

It’s kind of embarrassing, but usually sweatpants and a button-up top (affectionately referred to as the casual bottom and formal top). Dinner parties are always with friends, so I’m never too dressed up, and I don’t expect them to get formal either. I’m happy to get gussied up to go out, but when you’re in my house, I want you to be as comfortable as possible.

What’s always in your refrigerator?

Yogurt, butter, and an emergency bottle of bubbles in case of impromptu celebration.

The taste you’re always craving?

Really good dark chocolate. Ideally with some salt.

The restaurant meal you’ll never forget:

Our first meal at Palomar in London – we went many more times after and it was always a blast. They serve comfort food from Jerusalem, and it’s amazing. I wrote the owners an overly profuse thank you card after our first trip and we always had a seat at the bar when we came.

Yakitori Hitomi in Kyoto on our honeymoon – it was probably the cheapest and least formal meal we ate while we were in Japan, but it was for sure the most energetic, magical, and adventurous. Meat on a stick over fire. You can’t go wrong.

Current favorite color palette for parties:

Blue and white. Always and forever.

Go-to centerpiece solution:

Candelabra and some foliage. Full-on Liberace in the forest.

Your signature dish for parties: 

It always comes at the end – and it’s the simplest – grilled dates and ice cream. Lately, I’ve been adding a sprinkle of ground almonds mixed with allspice, cinnamon, and a little bit of brown sugar. It’s heaven.

Signature cocktail:

When it’s cold – Manhattan, rocks with a splash of amaro and squeeze of meyer lemon.

When it’s warm – Negroni.

Favorite tabletop item you own? 

There’s a set of candleholders that are always in the center of the table – I bought them when I was just out of college and even though they aren’t that fancy or expensive, they were a big spend for me at the time. They’ve come with me to every house I’ve ever lived in, and remind me of a lot of great dinners I’ve had with old friends. Also, it provides a wonderful light.

The entertaining rule you never break?

I’m always scanning the table to make sure everybody has a full glass. There should always be an open bottle of wine or decanter on the table that everyone can reach.
The same goes for water – we’re here to have fun, not hangovers.

What would we never find at one of your parties? 

Silence – family nights are best when everybody is laughing, dancing around, and having a good time.

Fill in the blank: “It’s not a party without ____________.”

That super weird and awesome face crampy thing you get after you laugh too long.

Secret to a great dinner party:

Great guests, great lighting, and a menu that’s not too fussy.

Favorite after-dinner activity or game?

I love a little glass of Pernod or chartreuse after dinner with one ice cube and a splash of water – I’m slowly converting friends to this one — it helps ready the crew for games around the table.

Dream dinner guests?

Mindy Lahiri, Michelle Obama, the ghost of Whitney Houston, and for Mike…Armie Hammer.

What guest behavior is your biggest pet peeve?

Silence. I mean.

My entertaining style in 5 words or less:

Food is love.