Okay, We Have Serious Style Envy of This San Diego Dinner Party
When creatives get together to share a meal, we’re always curious what it’ll look like – what colors they’ll be inspired to use, what foods they like to nosh on, what flowers will fill the table. Lucky for us,...
by Alyssa Brown

When creatives get together to share a meal, we’re always curious what it’ll look like – what colors they’ll be inspired to use, what foods they like to nosh on, what flowers will fill the table. Lucky for us, there are some amazing photographers out there like Jessie Jean who capture and share imagery of what can happen when a group that includes a stationer, a chef, a florist, a ceramicist and a baker come together in a sunny San Diego home that’s bright and minimal.

We recently caught up with stationery designer Melissa Fitoria of Epoch Designs and got the full scope of this meet-up of creative minds. Here’s what she had to say about the intention behind the gorgeous gathering below and how she walked away from it feeling a sense of inspiration and accomplishment.

"There is a need to create for pleasure as creatives, it innately becomes an outlet for our minds. The intention with our gathering was candid in a sense. Sharing the process as makers reveals a beautifully raw untold story behind our work.

The recipe for a successful stress-free intentional gathering is pretty easy. Keep it simple. Create with emotion above all else and chose a palette that compliments the tone you are trying to set. Neutrals, ceramics, wood, and linens are all elements that reflect tranquility. It is perfectly fine to eliminate the unnecessary. If it doesn’t speak to you or make you feel a certain type of happiness, always remember that less is more, and the essence of dinners/gatherings is to enjoy each other’s company. As far as stress-free, all the makers brought what they were comfortable sharing. This allowed for everyone to have a contribution to the dinner whilst allowing each other to bring forth their creative juices. At the end, we carried on cleaning up, washing dishes, finishing those last drinks, barefoot, and fulfilled."

"The tone was calm and intentional as we came together creating minimal vignettes of still life to spark inspiration and conversation. We wanted to evoke vignettes that highlighted the food in a simplistic way. On one end, a minimal approach to grazing and on the other, organically moving and shifting pieces to compliment the plated dinner. We used Priscilla’s ceramics to add raw elements and paired the composition with natural tones. At the dinner, the tone was light and relaxed. We were able to reflect on the pieces we all brought to the dinner and how we all shared our talents to create harmony in design. Wholeheartedly." 

"We turned our passion project into a dinner, setting the table for heartfelt conversations and laughter. All whilst breaking bread at the end to celebrate one another as makers, creatives, visionaries and artisans in our craft.

Gatherings around the table in a digital era are so important. Cooking, preparing the table, and enjoying each other’s company allows us to connect in so many ways. We are able to share our vulnerabilities and relate to one another in ways that an email, text and DM cannot. We all need a break, we all need to share our stories and if we can do it together with a tasty meal and drinks, well, that’s even better."

"Deanna, from Smoke and Brine Co., chose a family-style menu for the dinner. There’s something beautiful about passing food along the table that sparks conversation and keeps the mood light and communal."

Braised Short Rib Tomahawk from Smoke and Brine Co. 


  • 2 lbs. bone-in beef short ribs
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 large shallots, diced
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, diced 
  • 1 large carrot, diced 
  • 1 celery stock, diced 
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 8 oz. San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef stock


  1. Preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). 
  2. Season short ribs with salt and pepper.
  3. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and sear the ribs until browned on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Work in batches if necessary.
  4. Set ribs aside and add the diced shallots, carrot, onion and celery to the pot and sauté until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute. Do not burn.
    Add the balsamic vinegar and red wine, bring to a simmer and cook for an additional 1 to 2 minutes.
    Add the tomatoes and beef stock, bring to a boil. Return the ribs to the pot.
  5. Cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is fork tender, approximately 2.5 hours. 

To serve, remove ribs from pan, skim excess fat off and reduce sauce down until thick.
Serve with sautéed Swiss chard, glazed carrots and roasted tomato charmoula. 

 "For the dessert, Angela, from Wednesday Cake shared a poppy seed cake with blood orange liqueur and garnished it with fresh raspberries." 

Gluten Free Blood Orange Poppy Seed Cake by Angela from Wednesday Cake  

Makes two 9” round layers

Cake Ingredients 

  • 1 cup soft butter
  • 2.5 cups sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbs. blood orange zest
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • 1 tbs. gluten free vanilla
  • 1 tsp. pure blood orange extract
  • 3.5 cups gluten free all-purpose baking mix (I used and love King Arthur brand)
  • 3 tbs. poppy seeds

    Topping & Garnish Ingredients
  • 4 cups lightly sweetened whipped cream
  • Blood orange slices
  • 1 cup Grand Marnier salted caramel sauce

  1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare two 9" round cake pans with parchment and cooking spray.
  2. Cream butter, sugar, salt & zest until thoroughly combined and lighter in color.
  3.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing until just incorporated.
  4. Combine the milk, vinegar, vanilla & blood orange extract.
  5. Stir one-third of the baking mix into the mixture followed by half the milk, another third of the baking mix, the remaining milk, then the remaining mix.
    Scrape the bowl and fold in poppy seeds.
  6. Divide batter evenly between the two pans and bake until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the middle springs back when lightly touched, about 30 to 35 minutes.
  7.  Remove from the oven and cool 15 minutes in pan.
    Remove from pans and finish cooling.
    Cover with plastic wrap and chill completely before filling and topping with lightly sweetened whipped cream.
    Garnish with blood oranges slices and Grand Marnier salted caramel sauce. 


Photography: Jessie Jean Photography | Food: Smoke & Brine Co. | Creative Direction + Paper Goods: Epoch Designs | Rentals: Adore Folklore | Florals: Organic Flora | Ceramics: By Priscilla Lee | Cake: Wednesday Cake

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about the correspondent
Melissa Fitoria
Stationery Designer
Oceanside, CA, USA
Melissa creates clean, minimal printed designs and stationery. She draws inspiration from art, architecture, and typography, and focuses on giving her designs a modern airy feel. She specializes in wedding invitations, day-of stationery, and events. - Website

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