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A Sandy Ho Gathering Is All About Pleasure (and Rainbow Dumplings!)

How I Collect

Bringing individuals collectively round a desk is our best ardour in life and we imagine meals is likely one of the strongest instruments for connection. However what makes a gathering significant? In our sequence, How I Gather we go behind the scenes of our favourite cooks, foodies, and tastemakers to reply that query.  See All

Up subsequent, inside Sandy Ho’s gathering in Los Angeles.

I can nonetheless bear in mind my first time. I used to be attending an intimate gathering in Los Angeles when Sandy Truong An Tran Ho—chef, meals stylist, and artistic genius behind Sandita’s—served up her well-known rainbow dumplings to audible “ooh’s” and “ahh’s.” It’s secure to say, my eyes ate them earlier than my tastebuds might. The enjoyment was palpable. Grins spanned ear to ear and gleeful laughter rang out as our tastebuds began singing—nobody might cease speaking about them. Sure, this was meals that was designed to be a sensorial expertise: visually, audibly, and orally. They’re fairly actually jubilation in bodily type.

Creating meals experiences that draw on nostalgia to spark pleasure is strictly what Ho got down to do when she initially launched Sandita’s as a neighborhood yard dinner sequence. However when covid pressed pause on her gatherings, she turned a adverse right into a constructive and pivoted her focus. It was throughout this time when the rainbow dumplings have been born. Ho needed to create one thing enjoyable that will deliver the neighborhood collectively throughout a time after we weren’t bodily allowed to share a desk. This joyful mentality is a by means of line in all that she does.

Now that the world has opened up, Ho has returned to cooking in particular person once more, she’s reopened their catering and occasions program, returned to curating bespoke menus for occasions, pop-ups, and model activations, whereas additionally persevering with to share liked meals together with her neighborhood wherever she will. So, in fact, we have been thrilled to step inside certainly one of her current intimate gatherings to study extra about her joyful strategy to cooking alongside together with her favourite kitchen instruments, why she doesn’t use cookbooks, and key stuff you’ll all the time discover in her fridge/pantry. Put together to be impressed.

How did you learn your culinary artistry?

My family and my heritage play a huge role in my culinary work and I learn from them every day. My mum loved to cook, my dad loved to eat, and would always plant the seed for new dishes and cuisines to try. Watching this romance and remembering it truly fuels my fire for learning. Next to that, I’ve always been creative, especially as a child, with a huge imagination and I loved nature, being outside, and being in the water—I pull from this energy all the time. Cooking wise I’ve learnt from people all over the world, most of whom aren’t chefs. 

You are renowned for your rainbow dumplings. Tell us about the evolution of these beautiful dumplings and what was your inspiration? 

Cooking in the time of covid, making small morsels of joy for my community is a time of huge unknown. This period has really allowed me the time to work on projects that had existed in my mind but that I had no time for in my fast-paced life pre-pandemic. It made me slow down and create more space to experiment and be in my world of making art with food.

Describe a typical day for you. What do you drink when you wake? And what’s for breakfast?

I don’t typically have my first meal until 12 or 1 pm and that could be anything from rice and eggs to congee and pickles. I drink water in the mornings and don’t drink enough of it throughout the day but I’m trying to be better at it.

The cooking tool you always give beginners and why? 

A knife and a spoon—there’s no “beginner” tool, you either want to cook and taste or you don’t. That takes curiosity and allowing yourself to be brave with new things. If you want to cook, pick up a knife and learn, grab a spoon and taste it all.

What are your favorite cookbooks and why?

I don’t use cookbooks. I have plenty that I love to reference for imagery and feel, but rather than looking up a recipe, I’m more intrigued by the story, where the chef or person is writing from, who they are, where they’ve been, and how they translate it into a dish. That’s more fascinating to me than any recipe ever written. 

Tell us a few things we’ll always find in your refrigerator? 

Fish sauce, chili, cilantro, Thai basil, and pickles.

And what about your pantry? What do you always have on hand?

Fish sauce, natural food color powders, and rice.

What kitchen tools are your absolute must-haves?

Microplane, chef’s knife/cleaver, long tongs.

What scares you about cooking?

Nothing. That’s why I cant stop! It’s truly a language I speak fluently while constantly learning the nuances.

Your signature dish for parties?

Whole fish, mom’s curry, and always a big crunchy juicy, glossy salad.

The one meal you always make at home and why?

Congee. Its comforting and will always remind me of feeling looked after.

Dinner party pet peeve?

Too many florals on the table obstructing guests across the table and taking up table real estate for food. I love florals but there is a true art to curating them to play with the food rather than fighting with it.

The perfect dinner party playlist includes:

Love songs. 

Dream dinner guests?

My parents and two brothers. I haven’t been home in a few years now and I am dreaming of sharing a dinner with my family the first chance I get.

Fill in the blank: 

A perfect meal should… be shared.
It’s not a dinner party without… spilled sauces on the table, wine stains on the tablecloth, a showstopper dish like whole fried fish, and a lot of laughing.
Every cook should be… curious.

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