Today’s story has been in the works for over year, thanks to logistical challenges and a cross-country move, but trust us when we say it was worth the wait. Monique Otero runs a deliciously colorful food blog called Brunchpants, travels the world soaking up inspiration, and recently moved from NYC to her new home base of LA.
When we finally got the chance to catch up with her, Monique invited us for a laid-back picnic on the beach in Malibu, and there’s no doubt we’ll be channeling her fresh, seasonal recipes and effortless seaside decor all summer long.
Tell us your entertaining style in 5 words or less.
Simple, approachable, seasonal, colorful, happy.
What is your must-have entertaining tool?
Beautiful cutting boards. They are so versatile and can be used in so many ways to transform a table. I love using them for outdoor picnics to dress up a beach blanket, and sometimes I use multiple boards to create a runner.
What scares you about entertaining?
What items are always in your refrigerator?
Grass fed butter, hibiscus tea, and homemade almond milk.
The perfect dinner party playlist includes:
I love the classic crooners like Chet Baker and Nina Simone, but by dessert we are definitely listing to old-school hip hop.
What’s the entertaining rule you rarely break?
I always lay out appetizers and cocktails in the kitchen. If I am busy dealing with cooking something last minute (which I usually am), this set up makes sure my guests are entertained and I can still hang out with them.
We’ll take this picnic lunch in Malibu any day…
What is your signature entertaining dish?
I don’t think I have a signature yet. I am still experimenting and usually so excited about trying something new that I tend not to repeat recipes. I would say my Dad’s recipe for ratatouille, which has the most insane vegetable reduction sauce. This recipe has the added bonus of being able to make it in advance and if you have leftovers, it tastes even better with eggs the next day.
What’s the taste you’re always craving?
Salted dark chocolate. ALWAYS.
Your current favorite color palette for parties?
As a new LA transplant from NYC, I have adopted more of a neutral color palette. The light here is always so beautiful and bright that light linen colors are the perfect backdrop to all the fresh seasonal SoCal foods.
Hummus and crudité platters are our go-to appetizers this spring and summer.
What is your standard hostess outfit?
Brunchpants – or something equally stretchy and comfortable.
What is your secret to a great dinner party?
Do whatever it takes to be relaxed and have fun. Usually this means prep, prep, prep in advance. If you run out of time, order a pizza, throw some herbs on it, and pair it with a nice wine. If the hosts aren’t relaxed, nobody is having a good time, even if the food is worthy of three Michelin stars.
Who are your dream dinner guests?
Friends and family, particularly the ones I haven’t seen in a while or who live far away.
We’ll be swooning over this beach picnic until our next trip to LA.