All photos courtesy of Brit Gill
By Kristi Alexandra
It may seem like gone are the days when people put away their electronics, shut off the television, and had meaningful discussions over a meal.
Alberta-born Vancouverite Julia Khan Anselmo aims to change all that with Feisty Feast, a female-focused, themed dinner party series that brings food and conversation back to the table.
A lover of hosting and sharing ideas, Khan Anselmo kicked off her dinner series with an inaugural event at her own home in 2013.
“I was laid off my dream job working in art sales and took some time to seriously consider what it was that I was actually doing with my time, rather than what it was I thought I should be doing because of my degree and work experience,” she reveals.
“And, that was meeting and surrounding myself with incredibly wonderful and powerful women, cooking and experimenting with different cuisines from around the world, and hosting lots of dinner parties. I was never satisfied with jobs I had and I always felt like I was missing out on something, I just didn’t fit in and I wasn’t getting fed or nourished from the type of work I was doing so after I did the first Feisty Feast I felt like, ‘This is it, this is what I’m supposed to do. This is the right path.’”
Khan Anselmo curates the dinners from start to finish, including setting the atmosphere, the menu, the invitations and a guest speaker, or speakers depending on the theme. She works with local business and creative entrepreneurs to create a magical atmosphere for her guests. Successive events have been held at Yaletown’s Brain Station, Tazi Designs in San Francisco, The Vinegar Factory, with its upcoming installment taking place at Atelier St George.
“Feisty Feast is a stage where I want to share and present other women who I think are incredible community leaders or who I think have something to say. It’s a platform for ideas and discussion. That goes the same for food, too,” she says.
While the 12th instalment of the Feisty Feast series is focused on female body image, Khan Anselmo’s most recent dinner in December touched on female sexual empowerment, which was unsurprisingly devoured by a sold-out audience.
It seems the upcoming theme of body image may have a bit to do with Khan Anselmo’s own ideas about being nourished and breaking bread, as it were.
“I have bread and butter at every Feisty Feast and I’m not afraid to cook with cream,” she tells Loose Lips resolvedly.
“I don’t like to follow food fads, I like to cook and I think women should eat what they want. I feel like there are certain attitudes about food that cause us to feel self conscious about what we eat. I think you should enjoy your food and share as many meals with people that you love. Have communal dinners – it’s a great way to have a fun time and save money. I think the saddest thing is eating a meal by myself – I hate doing it. I think food is meant to be shared and you should genuinely enjoy and feel good about what you’re eating.”
Given the amount of guilt projected upon our eating habits through magazine headlines like “Eating to Lose Weight” and “30-Day Diet to a New You,” Khan Anselmo felt inspired to address the issue.
“In the West, we live in a culture where we feel self conscious about everything we put in and on our bodies. Food is the new religion and the new morale. It’s how people place value judgements on you,” she says.
Khan Anselmo will host the last Feisty Feast for a while, before spreading the series to other North American cities and overseas to Europe.
Feisty Feast No. 12 provides guilt-free Feasting while deconstructing body image over a vegetarian meal served up at Atelier St. George on Friday, February 17. Tickets sold out.
Kristi Alexandra is an unabashed wino and wannabe musician. Her talents include drinking an entire bottle of cabernet sauvignon, singing in the bathtub, and falling asleep.