Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking

By Camille Styles
salad and champagne

photos by mary costa

I sometimes say that I’m a California girl, even though I wasn’t born there and have never actually lived there (is that weird?) It’s more wishful thinking than anything else; every time my flight touches down in LA, or San Diego, or San Francisco (I could go on and on… California is big, people) I immediately feel happier and more laid-back. Well, today we’ve got a real California girl and one of my favorite food bloggers on the interwebs, Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking, and she channels all those sunshine-y vibes and was nice enough to let us follow her around as she gets ready for a dinner party. Gaby’s site is on my short list of go-to’s when I need to find  a recipe to actually cook for dinner tonight. You’ll find healthiness like Citrus Avocado Salad right alongside Banana Pudding Pie. Basically, a recipe for everything you’re craving. Keep scrolling for Gaby’s Cali-cool and unfussy style, plus the secrets for how she throws a no-stress dinner party.

What’s your signature entertaining dish?

It depends on the season. Right now we’re heading into spring so I’m all about a big beautiful farmers market salad, some gorgeous crudité platters with 2 to 3 kinds of dips, and something easy as a main course.

What’s the taste you’re always craving?

Guacamole and salsa. Always.

What scares you about entertaining?

Not much scares me after being a private chef for four years and having to throw together a party at the drop of a hat. But I will say my greatest fear is running out of food, so I always make a ton of whatever I’m serving that night.

What items are always in your refrigerator?

Kombucha, butter, lemons, herbs, basil vinaigrette, salsa, and medjool dates.

The restaurant meal you’ll never forget:

Any one of the meals we had in Italy last summer. I never wanted to leave.

Secret to a great dinner party:

Good music, good friends, un-fussy food, and a few bottles of really good wine.

What’s your must-have entertaining tool?

The rabbit wine opener. It makes life so much easier!

What’s your current favorite color palette for parties?

I like to keep my dishware really simple and clean, so I stick to whites and neutrals, but then I get crazy with flowers and have bright pops of color throughout my home.

Who are your dream dinner guests?

I mean, are we shooting for the moon here? If so, Michelle and Barack Obama, Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Beyonce, and my BFF Matt Armendariz.

The entertaining rule you rarely break?

I set the table and prep as much of the food as possible before the guests arrive! That way everything looks pretty before your guests walk in the door and no one is stressed right before you sit down to dinner.

What’s your standard hostess outfit?

Jeans, flats, and a cute top. It’s simple, effortless, and something I can still cook in.

The perfect dinner playlist includes:

If it as up to me, we’d listen to Beyonce all night long. Luckily my husband is a music pro, so he takes care of the playlist – otherwise he’d be subjected to my wanna-be-Beyonce dance moves. According to our Spotify playlists, the Bill Withers station always works!

Your entertaining style in five words or less:

Laid-back, seasonal, fresh, California, and silly. I always end up turning a dinner party into an impromptu game night.