Setting the Table with Eva Goicochea
Designer and digital content creator Éva Goicochea is, we have to admit, living the ultimate aspirational life…
We first met when she ran social media and culture at Everlane in 2013 and since then, it’s been amazing to watch her grow into the talented tastemaker, Squarespace Specialist, and business owner that she is now.
On top of her stellar career, she’s built homes in both Los Angeles and New York alongside her husband Ian, complete with three rescued Shih Tzus and two Persian cats. Talk about bi-coastal goals.
We sat down with Éva to talk about her recent move from Los Angeles to New York City, what she’s learned in the process, how she’s planning on revamping her entertaining routine to fit her new space, and how she planned her housewarming.
How often do you entertain, and what kind of personal touches do you add to setting your table?
I used to entertain a lot, because we used to have a long wooden table in our house many years ago, but then we moved and we didn’t have much of a dining space. If it were up to me—and now we’ll probably do this since we again have the space—we’d entertain at least three times a month.
How many people is your ideal number for those situations?
I think six to eight. And then, I really like to have a simple table, with candles and family-style food, and just a sense of “elevated casual.” Well, casual’s not the right word. More like “elevated easy.”
You just had your housewarming. What were the special steps that you took to prepare for that, from start to finish?
Normally, I go a bit overboard when we have parties. I’ll say, “make a drink list,” or “make a food list,” if we’re having a big party.
But this time, I wanted to keep it super simple with wine and beer. And then to pair with it, we wanted to do a cheese board. With the number of people we invited, however, we had to get creative with the idea of a “board.” We laid wax paper all the way down our table, and then laid out cheese bread, nuts, vegetables—basically a giant cheese board. We tried to almost make it feel like a feast—a finger feast—that was easy to eat with a drink in hand.
Where did the wax paper idea come from?
I mean, who the hell has a ten-foot cheese board? I think I once thought that you could go get a long piece of any wood and use it, but it turns out that your general hardware wood is filled with chemicals, obviously. If you don’t have wax paper, butcher paper is great, too.
Was it different from hosting a party like you normally do in LA?
California entertaining feels leisurely and involves the outdoors—picnics, dinners al fresco, and barbecues with seasonal vegetables and fish.
Our New York housewarming felt like a city gathering: people want to be able to eat and drink while chatting and standing. At parties in LA, you’re kind of perched in your spot forever or put your feet up. Here in New York it felt like people were moving around. Definitely more about interacting than relaxing.
Everyone was surprised that we had a housewarming that wasn’t a red cup-filled house party or a ten person dinner. It was somewhere in-between. Convivial, but adult: a real glass in hand.
Was there a specific moment in your life where you hosted someone and realized, “My home represents me, my home is a part of me, this stuff is important to me”?
Well, the back story is I’ve always been OCD. Ever since I was a little kid, my room had themes. In high school, my room was blue and white and nothing of any other color was allowed. Friends would bring me gifts and I’d shove them in the closet if they weren’t blue or white. So, in short, I’ve always been really crazy about my surroundings.
As far as entertaining, my family had dinner every single night and we went to the farmer’s market every Sunday. We definitely had a ritual. There were just ways you did things. We never ate off paper plates, we never really watched TV. I learned that when you invite someone over, you eat off of proper plates.
While I have always been this way, it did almost reach its tipping point. When Ian and I first lived in LA together, we had a Halloween party and I made probably 20 dishes that were themed. I made homemade breadstick fingers with almond nails and this tomato red blood dipping sauce. And then these little chocolate pots de creme that were supposed to be little graves. They even had little gravestones. Truly ridiculous.
It was one of our biggest failures because Halloween fell on a Thursday or something, so no one showed up. There were very few people there. I remember thinking, “I killed myself all day, and we spent so much money.” The people that came enjoyed it, but they would have enjoyed it with one dish.
Jump to the realization: It’s not about the food—it’s about the company. People eat food at a party quickly and you realize that all this work just gets shoved into their mouths, and that’s it.
So since then, I keep it simple. If you can do a couple of things really well, do that versus trying to break your back so that you actually enjoy yourself.
I would have probably gone more crazy for our housewarming, but then I thought, “Well, the presentation of this cheese board, even though it’s simple thing, is more interesting and less time consuming for me.” It was a good mix of easy, but interesting, and friendly. Everyone could get their hands in there.
It sounds like you did a lot of cooking initially and now you’ve kind of moved away from that. Do you anticipate cooking a lot now in New York?
We didn’t cook a lot in LA because when you work from home you want an excuse to get out. I work from home in New York too, but it’s expensive to eat out all the time (and I’m still looking for my favorite places). We started doing Plated, which has kept us cooking three nights a week. Also, it’s helped us with being wasteful. Sure, you may think you’re going to, but let’s be honest—you just don’t eat a whole bag of carrots.
In fact, there’s a whole bag of carrots in our refrigerator right now. If you can use something like Plated, even though it can seem pricey for the amount you get, you don’t waste anything. It also encourages you to think of cooking as easy, because you know it’s not going to turn into this full production of having leftovers for three days and figuring out what to do with that damn celery later.
I really do like to cook, it’s just the planning, the leftovers and the potential waste that makes me a little hesitant. Even when hosting, I try to stay away from paper plates, plastic, that kind of stuff to avoid being wasteful, not just out of etiquette.
Do you think that you would get more into cooking the longer you live here? Maybe going down to the Farmer’s Market and creating one good dish?
Totally. I think it’s also about learning how much to buy, which is nice at a farmer’s market because you don’t have to buy so much. When you go to places like Trader Joe’s or even Whole Foods you have to buy one whole pack of something. It’s silly.
But I still think it takes a lot of planning, so either I make one of my go-to recipes, or there’s got to be an exploration aspect—like I’m going to use a new ingredient or I’m going to go outside of my comfort zone or I’m going to cook in a new way. But to cook just to cook everyday isn’t my thing. I just don’t have time.
Do you have a simple go-to recipe for when you do cook?
I make this vegetable soup in the winter, for colder days. The soup gets even better the next day. Sometimes I’ll add a chicken sausage or other vegetables that aren’t in the original recipe. You cannot screw it up.
What’s one item that you can’t set a table without?
I love glassware. I want everyone to have a real glass. I don’t even care about the plate as much as I do the glass, which is really weird. I found all these little glasses from Ikea. They’re good for wine or for espresso, and they’re cheap, and you can store a lot of them. No red cups allowed. So even if you’re going to have shitty wine, if you can have at least a real glass to serve it from, do it.
If I were to give anyone advice, it would just be to pick one thing or two things and do them really well. If you’re going to have friends over for dinner, do one dish. And a simple dessert. Paring down made me feel more like me, where I keep the elements that are important. Keep it simple.
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 14.5-ounce cans low-sodium chicken broth
½ pound Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
Salt de Mer
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
¼ pound green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces (1 cup)
1 cup chopped broccoli
freshly grated Parmesan
1 baguette, sliced and toasted (optional)
Heat oil in a large saucepan or stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes.
Add the broth, 1 cup water, potatoes, thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt. Increase heat to high and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, 15 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, beans, and broccoli. Cook 5 to 10 minutes more or until all the vegetables are tender.
Sprinkle with Parmesan. Serve with toasted baguette slices (if desired).
Tip from Éva: add fresh corn or sliced chicken sausage for variety.
Written by Gheanna Emelia