Before following his passion into the arena of food media, Geoff Bartakovics was working in finance. A business manager in fixed income trading at UBS, Bartakovics claims his seven years in banking helped set him up for success when founding Tasting Table, his growing food media empire that focuses on sharing quality recipes, food trends, and longer-form features on must-try restaurants.
We recently visited Bartakovics’ home in SoHo, Manhattan — a delightful two-story, one-bedroom, that is situated in an old carriage house — to find out how he divides his time between being CEO of Tasting Table, and continuing one of his oldest passions: hosting dinner and cocktail parties.
Below, a tour of his home and his best tips for being an excellent dinner host.
Bartakovics' apartment is located across the street from the Tasting Table offices -- which makes commuting a breeze.
Since he was a kid, Bartakovics has been cooking. 'I was cooking dinner five nights per week starting at age seven,' he said. 'Psychologically speaking, you get a lot of love and kudos from neighbours and family friends for doing something weird like being the kid who cooks.'
While Tasting Table covers all the basis within the food world -- Bartakovics passion lies specifically in playing host, rather than going out. 'Waiting 45 minutes for your seat even though you have a reservation is not my core passion,' he said.
Since college, he's been hosting dinners and cocktail parties for friends -- today, he's branched out to inviting those within the food and media industry, as well as community influencers to join in on the occasions.
Making people feel comfortable and welcome is Bartakovics number one goal while hosting -- he's currently reading The Art of Conversation to hone his already well-tailored skills. 'I'm obsessed with the idea that there is an art to conversation,' he said.
'If you invite folks who don't know each other, the obligation is on you to lead the conversation to get people to introduce themselves and make other human connections at the dinner table,' he said.
His number one suggestion for doing this is to have every guest answer the same question, such as: what was your prom's song? What is your summer read, or what's your next vacation?
The game of having guests introduce someone at the table other than themselves also lightens the mood. 'If you don't know them, make it up,' he says.
Of course another great tactic is to have a well-stocked bar. He's found that most guests usually go for a strong mixed drink at parties -- however if he's going to batch a cocktail his number one choice is a tequila gimlet. He's also passionate about the appetizers. 'Make everything super easy for people to grab,' he said. Messy and sloppy apps can make guests feel anxious, especially when they don't know anyone else at the event.
Bartakovics lessons from playing host all these years will be gathered in his upcoming cookbook, filled with recipes and suggestions on how to make guests feel at ease -- as well as serve them great food. The book is out March of 2018.
When it comes to being CEO of Tasting Table -- Bartakovics has a few self-inflicted rules around dining out. 'I have a business breakfast almost every day at Balthazar. I don't believe in business lunches -- they interrupt the day,' he said.
As for eating at the city's top spots, Bartakovics goes out about once a week. 'I try to pull the founder of Tasting Table founder card as little as possible,' he said in regards to making reservations.
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