When I was first dreaming up the concept of what Feste would look like IRL, the one thing I knew was that I wanted it to be a space where likeminded people who were just as passionate about a glittering disco ball and an architecturally sound champagne tower could gather.

Daniel Emilio of Alimentari is one of those people. We were delighted to bring him on board to curate the pantry selection for the store, using his wide range of knowledge and connections to special Italian fare. From chocolate covered dates to olive oil, he carefully selects each product in his assortment to be both aesthetically pleasing and delicious.

I talked with him about his hot hosting tips and his journey so far.

Tell me a little about your story. How did you get started?

I had my first market pop up during the summer of 2019 in Maman on Centre Street in SoHo. It was only for 6 weeks in the dead of summer and yet, we managed to make magic. I was really excited about creating an old world produce market experience in that space because the existing atmosphere in Maman was already so transportive and rustic. It was the perfect place to introduce the idea.

What is your first step when putting together a new installation?

I always refer back to archives of my grandfather's displays at Grace’s Marketplace & Balducci's. He was a visual merchandising savant. After having combed through that, I start to think about the story I want to tell and how the characteristics of the existing space and brand partner can be incorporated and honored in that story.

What is your favorite product in your assortment?

I love all my provisions equally! But, if I had to choose, and believe me this isn't easy for me, I would have to say the fig glaze. It's made using Calabrian figs that harvested at peak ripeness. It's such an indulgent treat, the perfect pantry essentials that's sure to delight, surprise, & awe.

What is your favorite party you’ve ever been to?

An impromptu loft party in Saint Germain. I was traveling in Paris and haphazardly ran into a friend from NYC while out shopping. He mentioned to me that some old friends from university were having a get together and that I should stop by. I was ambivalent about going but at the last minute decided, fuck it, why not. Immediately upon arriving I realized that all of his friends spoke little to no English and that I was left to my own devices. What transpired over the next 12-16 hours was one of the most incredible & awe-inspiring nights-turned-mornings of my life. It opened me up to the idea of a universal language that is communicated entirely through...energy.

How much hosting do you do? What are your tips?

I host fairly often. 

Tip 1: Keep it simple. Don't make a big fuss. People remember how you make them feel, not how good your dips are or how tasteful your wine list is. 

Tip 2: Let them graze. Food is there to fuel conversation and connection. Quality salumi, cheeses, a creative finger food or two. That's all you need, really. What you really want is for your guests to visit the food table as a brief interlude -- which suggests the mood of the party is flowing. 

Tip 3: Always surprise and delight. Whatever that means to you. 

What inspires you?

The power of saying yes to yourself.


May 11, 2022 — Shelby Barnes