Hosting Tips

Entertaining With :: The Wellgro Co.

By Emma Banks
Entertaining With The Well Gro Co. | Photography by Chelsea Fullerton for Camille Styles

When you take a look around the Hugheys’ home, little tidbits of Kerri’s grandmother’s legacy are everywhere: black and white nostalgia in the form of old photographs, a simple wooden recipe box full of delicious thoughts and scribbles, a white and red cabinet in the kitchen. Across from the cabinet hangs one of Ed’s prized possessions: a big round paella pan, in which tonight’s dish will be cooked. It’s his favorite meal – casual, fun and easy. “This is a special dish for us. We ate at a Spanish restaurant on our first date, then had paella at our rehearsal dinner…we’re always having paella-making parties.” It has become a tradition of sorts in the Hughey household, and tonight is no exception. When they’re not cooking up a storm, Ed and Kerri are working on their healthy eating initiative, The Wellgro Co. The project is a reflection of the couple’s devotion to growing and cooking food the right way, and aims to foster that same love of natural nourishment in our children. He says of The Wellgro Co.: “We’ve been really blessed. Now we want to give back.”

photography by chelsea fullerton

What is the entertaining rule you never break?

We always greet our guests at the door. We believe that a warm welcome is the starting point of a successful party. It’s important to us that our guests are acknowledged for taking time out of their day to join us. Big smiles and big hugs are available to our guests when they arrive. We also make introductions, so that those who don’t know each other are able to get into relationship quickly. 

The party starts with Ed & Kerri’s Signature Sangria Recipe: 

  • 1-6 mint sprigs
  • Strawberries, peaches, raspberries, & orange slices
  • ½ cup brandy
  • ½ peach liquor
  • ½ grape juice
  • 1 bottle of cava

What is your entertaining style in five words or less?

Simple, warm, loving.

How did you decide to launch The Wellgro Co.? 

Being involved in our community is important to us, we want to create a legacy of making a difference.  We are also passionate about food, good design, and building brands.  The Wellgro Co is a way in which we can support youth in Austin and beyond.  It allows us to share our life with others.

What are your must-have entertaining tools? 

Ed: My cast iron skillet.

Kerri: Vintage cookbooks, for inspiration on how to keep things simple.

How did you two meet?

We met fourteen years ago working at the Abercrombie office. Ed caught my eye walking through the office, and in that moment I knew he was going to be someone special in my life. A few weeks later he took me on our first dinner date to Barcelona, a Mediterranean restaurant in Columbus, Ohio.

Ed serves up a tortilla-Española for an easy, quick appetizer; simply: 

  • potatoes
  • onions
  • eggs

What’s on the menu tonight? 

  • Gazpacho
  • Eggplant tortilla (Spanish omelet)
  • Cheese plate + olives
  • Seafood paella
  • Chocolate cinnamon ice cream with toasted almonds
  • Sangria + wine

What has been your most memorable night entertaining guests?

We hosted our wedding rehearsal dinner at Mallorca, a Spanish restaurant in Pittsburgh.  We spent the night with the most beloved people in our lives sharing paella and Spanish wine.

What is your favorite dish to make when entertaining friends?

We love communal dinners and conversational foods like paella. It’s my favorite meal to cook because it’s fun and easy. It can be as casual or as formal as you want.

What is your number one rule when cooking and entertaining?

We always use the freshest ingredients available to us and make meals from scratch.  It’s essential for us to know where our food comes from.  We buy produce from the farmers market, and any meat or seafood must be sustainably raised or local if possible.  When we prepare a meal for guests, it’s an opportunity for us to share about the importance of high quality food.

Who do you usually have over for dinner parties?

Friends, new and old.  We love inviting new people into our home.  Friends of friends are always welcome, too!

What is always in your refrigerator?

Champagne, Prosecco or Cava.  We are always ready to celebrate something!

What is your best tip for cooking seafood paella?

Place the mussels hinge down in the paella so that the heat opens up in the shell. 

Tonight’s paella ingredients? 

  • chicken
  • chorizo (smoky Spanish sausage)
  • scallops
  • shrimp
  • mussels
  • onion
  • garlic
  • tomatoes
  • peppers
  • saffron

What is your perfect dinner party playlist? 

I still love the playlist that Ed created for the cocktail hour after our wedding. It’s full of the classics, like Norah Jones and the Beatles. 

Where in your home do you usually entertain?

We also love spending time in our backyard. Living in a city neighborhood means that our backyard is a social space. Our guests can enjoy our garden, interact with our neighbors and hear the chickens that live a few doors down

What is the best part about entertaining?

We like it when friends come because everyone comes hungry and leaves full!

Who are your dream dinner party guests?

Our grandparents. We know they would be so proud of the life we’ve built.