Progressive Hedonist Dinner with Dana Cowin

Last month we had the distinct pleasure of collaborating with Dana Cowin on a dinner party held at Michèle’s home in Venice. You likely are familiar with Dana from her years as Editor in Chief of Food & Wine Magazine. She has started a new venture called Progressive Hedonist which encourages joyful gatherings to eat sustainably and engage in meaningful conversations that inspire and propel actions to help heal the planet. As long time admirers of Dana’s and inspired by her mission, we jumped at the chance to throw a Progressive Hedonist dinner party together and invite some of our favorite people in the LA food and wine scene. 

Dana shared her journey with us.  “When I began thinking about how to unleash the profound power of the individual to mitigate climate change, I contemplated why so many efforts in the past hadn't worked for me...they made me feel guilty, they seemed useless, they were hard or expensive, and they removed pleasure from the equation. So for my nascent project, I became focused on a few key elements: joy/pleasure, small changes that can be easy and fun, no shame. I want to meet people wherever they are and inspire them to take one more action. Putting those ideas together--I wanted a hedonistic/pleasure-centered approach where people could progressively get more involved in the movement, at their own pace.

SO! Progressive (doing more, gradually) Hedonist (through sustainable joy for all).” 

Keeping in the spirit of sustainability, we rethought the way we set the table. It was important to consider every detail and its environmental impact, so we purchased nothing new that would not be used many times again. We used citrus as place cards (which Michèle later used in a lemon pie), beeswax candles, and repurposed a Valentine’s Day bouquet. We borrowed a few extra wine glasses, napkins and silverware instead of buying or renting more.

We were thrilled to bring in our like-minded friend, Chef Brian Bornemann of Crudo e Nudo and Isla to create a delicious meal of sustainable and locally sourced ingredients to pair with our sustainable and organically farmed wines.

We started off with glasses of Bubbly Rosé and oysters from Morro Bay and a market plate with gorgeous produce from the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. Chef Brian then served rockfish crudo, a wild arugula salad with tangos paired with our Picpoul Blanc. We then moved onto an incredible bucatini vongole made with and served with Lorenza Rosé. For our final course we had locally foraged mushroom risotto paired with our Cinsaut. The night finished off with salted shortbread cookies and homemade almond butter cups. Chef’s Kiss!


During dinner we were all taken by Dana’s enthusiasm for healing the planet. She asked us all to think of “one more thing” we can each do to help. Many people are already taking small actions to help mitigate climate change--for example, eliminating single use plastic, or not using paper towels at home, or supporting local farmers. At PH, we want to harness this existing enthusiasm and amplify it, one small, consistent action at a time to become a massive influential force for good.” says Dana.

When the night finally came to a close, instead of giving everyone a goody bag, we asked each guest to bring a cloth tote bag which we filled with a bottle of rosé. We all left that evening feeling inspired and empowered, and with new friends.

If you’d like to keep up with Dana and all things Progressive Hedonist, sign up for her newsletter. If you’d like to host your own Progressive Hedonist dinner, please reach out to Dana, she would love to hear from you!

A special thank you to Simi Malik for capturing the night so beautifully.