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Dinner at The Budman’s


Last week during the first swing of The Family Dinner book tour, I had a two-day stop in the beautiful city of Toronto. I have always heard how nice Canadians are and I am happy to report that it’s all true… Even the reporters!

After a whirlwind day of interviews I had the privilege to participate in a discussion and book signing at the phenomenal Indigo bookstore (I could spend a week in there!) with founder and force of nature, Heather Reisman (Canada’s Oprah for books!). Then on to Diane and Michael Budman’s (Roots of Canada) home for a dinner party celebrating the launch of “The Family Dinner.”

Diane is one of those special individuals with the gift that turns everything she touches into something beautiful. I love being around people like that. Kirstin has that gift and while I lack that particular talent, I love discovering it in others.

Laurie with Diane Budman

For the dinner Diane enlisted Toronto’s famed (and very cute) chef Jaime Kennedy with a mandate to create a dinner inspired by our recipes in “The Family Dinner.” Like a great chef always does, Jaime found something he loved in the book and took it to a whole new level. His jumping off point was the photograph on page 63 of the ball jars storing food in the fridge. Genius! Apparently the walls of his beloved Gilead Café & Bistro are decorated with the same glass jars filled with all things pickled, jammed and canned. (We may have to start a support group for those of us obsessed with ball and mason jars!)

Jamie’s second inspiration was Kirstin’s Vietnamese Soup in a Teapot on page 73. Like a lot of the concepts in our book, there is much more than meets the eye with this recipe. Soup is never just soup! The idea behind Vietnamese Soup is that everyone cooks together at the table by adding the finishing touches to their own bowl. To do this, all you have to do is put the additional goodies for the soup in separate bowls on the table and then sit back and watch (after you make your bowl, of course!) how everyone decides what to add – or not to add – as they make their perfect bowl of soup. We have several recipes like this in the book because this fun and engaging concept works wonders with kids. I soon learned that it also works great for adults at a dinner party too.

After all of the guests arrived and everyone had mingled, dinner was announced. We moved into the beautiful dining room that was glittering with candles – all in shallow mason jars, of course, and brightly colored kitchen tea towels in place of napkins. Everything was not only reusable for another day but made all of us feel immediately at home. Love that Diane!

Once we were in our seats the individual glass jars arrived, each one hand-labeled “Thursday’s Soup” (it was Thursday, after all!) and filled with soba noodles, crunchy cabbage, carrot slices and white beans. As everyone received a jar, the dinner table exploded in delight. This was definitely a new dinner party experience. As we all twisted off the lids and emptied the contents into our bowls you could feel the excitement build. What was going to come next?!

Grandma’s teapots were then passed around and we all poured the hot, delicious broth into our waiting bowls. Then it was time to dive into the waiting bowls of fixings and toppings set around the table. The room descended into laughter and conversation as we all “made” our dinners together. Participating in making your own dish not only ensures a meal you will love but it’s lots of fun, sparking a million conversations and new ideas for recipes: why didn’t you choose this or I never thought of adding that!

Laurie enjoying Thursday’s Soup

The dinner was as good, healthy, and delicious as I have ever had!! I never thought of taking the family dinner concept to a formal dinner party, but it worked, kicking off fantastic conversations and creating so much good energy the room was practically vibrating!

Diane and Michael’s gift for rustic luxury is the signature of Roots of Canada, and their key to success for 120 plus stores located all over the world. And Diane’s gift for making the simple, simply beautiful, was an inspiration to us all. With a little imagination, she took a dinner table, some ball jars and a pot of soup and cooked up a dinner that was fun, fantastic and memorable. In the beginning of the evening, we were a table of strangers but after our dinner at the Budman’s, we all felt like family.


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