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Host Story: Richard and Rana Florida throw an intimate dinner party for their interesting friends

Richard and Rana Florida have a swish party pad, a sense of whimsy and interesting friends. But their best dinner-party trick may be keeping their cool in chaos

Host Story

Richard and Rana Florida are such seasoned travellers that they’ve cut their packing time down to zero. Stashed in a hall closet in their Rosedale house are two Tumi bags full of toiletries, phone chargers and various other necessities, so they can hop on a plane at a moment’s notice. Because of the hectic schedule, Richard, a professor of business and creativity at U of T’s Rotman School of Management, and Rana, the CEO of Creative Class Group, the couple’s consulting company, consider staying at home something of a treat. And when they’re in town, they’re always entertaining friends.

THE MENU

Poolside drinks and hors d’oeuvre

Moët & Chandon champagne with raspberries and mint

Skewers of fresh bocconcini, tomato and basil

White bean bruschetta by Mario Batali (see recipe). The Manhattan-based chef is an old friend of Richard’s; they met at Rutgers university, where Batali studied.

The Barefoot Contessa’s Middle Eastern vegetable salad (see recipe)

Dinner

Grilled lamb chops with mint and olive oil Salmon, halibut, fennel and pepper kebabs

Dipping sauce of Greek yogurt mixed with shredded cucumber, lots of fresh dill, lemon, sea salt and cracked pepper

Quinoa with toasted pine nuts

Dessert

Baklava served with vanilla gelato and grilled figs and topped with pistachios and sprigs of mint

Blossom-topped Belgian chocolate cupcakes from Eat My Words


The Floridas’ party hub, weather permitting, is their renovated backyard, where a new pool is set against the backdrop of lush ravine trees. On this particular night, there was a gathering of eight: Frank Toskan, co-founder of MAC cosmetics, and his partner, hair­stylist Darren Zakreski; society maven Lynda Prince and her husband, Jonas, chairman of the Realstar Group; Victoria Jackman, executive director of the Hal Jackman Foundation; the Floridas and me.

Rana stocked the poolside cabana with fresh fruits, Belgian chocolates, rock candy and marshmallows from Summerhill Market, and she put out about a dozen whiskies, from Glenlivet to Tyrconnell (Richard is a devout duty-free shopper). Obsessed when it comes to the details, Rana runs an evening with the precision of a drill sergeant and the energy of a racehorse. But she also knows that good parties need relaxed hosts: “If you’re not having fun, then neither are the guests,” she says.

Growing up as one of six children of first-generation Jordanians in a Michigan suburb, Rana was schooled in the art of dealing with chaos: at any given time, friends and family members might drop by unannounced. There were no crashers at the gate this Saturday night, but the hosts did field a few curveballs. One couple got the time wrong and arrived an hour early (just as Rana was getting changed), and another was held up and came almost an hour late. During this interval, corks popped on bottles of Moët (served with a sprig of mint and raspberry in the glass), while, inside, disaster struck.

It was a new server’s first time at the house. Rana’s usual guy, Eliano, hired from the local events company Spinradius, was out for his birthday that night. The novice helper started a kitchen fire while toasting bread for the bruschetta. After Rana and the server threw the engulfed tray in the sink, she implored him to take the edge off with a drink. He declined, but the guests drank a toast to the (burnt) toast.

  • dave davis

    so elitist it makes me puke.

  • Bored

    Dear Toronto Life,
    No one cares what self-promoting, aging socialites eat for dinner.
    Love, me

  • John

    Why?

  • Laura

    Love the story, too bad the other comments are so negative (don’t hate or be angry because you feel like it’s “Elitist”)

  • IS

    I think this is a great inpiration for a dinner party. Thanks for inviting us in.

  • HAHAHA

    “Their interesting friends?” Are you fucking kidding me? Well, I am now going to do the following:

    -Cancel my sub to Toronto Life
    -Cry at how worthless my life now seems
    -Jump in front of a subway due to the former point.

    Seriously TL…THIS IS SO GROSS

  • hillcrest

    barf

  • Jenny

    Aside from not finding this couple interesting, I think this is a horrible concept in general for a “feature.”

  • singher

    See, maybe this story *might* have been interesting if they actually prepared the food themselves. Disaster struck when she was changing? The hosts needed to remain calm for their guests? WHY? Because they hired the help to do the work for them? Give me a break.

  • rogerdodger

    “Rana’s usual guy, Eliano.” oh my…

  • Heather

    While the author claims that these people are “interesting” there is nothing in this article that makes them seem so. Pointless and poorly written, everyone involved comes across as a preening narcissist.

  • jK

    Ditto. Quel BS

  • the BayStBull

    How are any of these people interesting? Is it because Richard and Rana have bags full of toiletries and phone chargers ready to go? Who cares about shameless self promoters like Jonas Prince and his wife Lynda? You’ll find more interesting people eating dinner in a soup kitchen or a homeless shelter than these these fool! What a terrible terrible feature.

  • FAT CHANCE

    Who really gives a flying F@$^!!!!I would rather have a root canal, than be at that Mutual admiration society party.

  • BG011

    I really like the dinnerware :)

  • martyfortheparty

    This is the douchbagiest article that TL has ever posted. Who ARE these people? Are we supposed to like them or want to be like them? I for one actually cook and host when I have people over (while my 2 toddlers run around). I usually hate comments on postings but this time most of them are bang on.

  • Dave

    What self indulgent crap

  • stella

    I think they got the idea from Gossip Girl and thought that the general public would find it thrilling, I think not! more like pretentious Canadians trying une peu too hard n’est ce pas!

  • tk_in_TO

    Barbie and Ken have a dinner party. MEH!!

  • Canadian in Thailand

    With periodicals like Toronto Life and articles like this one, believe me, I never get homesick for Toronto.

  • margarets

    Sorry, this is not interesting at all.

  • JL

    They just HAD to know this article would be trashed (as it should be). It’s almost as if the author wrote it that way (…”for their interesting friends”….that’s just an invitation to be mocked!) Although in all fairness she does seem to be doing some of the preparation anyway – although perhaps only after the fire broke out.

  • PT

    My guess is that these people are all friends of someone on the editorial staff of Toronto Life. The piece reads like it was written by a PR flack… I don’t find it offensive but it illustrates the editorial laziness and obsequiousness of Fulford’s regime at TL.

  • rana

    BARF. If toronto life gets any more elitist than an article about how these two entertain (“The Manhattan-based chef is an old friend of Richard’s; they met at Rutgers university, where Batali studied.” — excuse me but who tf cares?”) with their bubbly and their rosedale pad — btw did anybody mention that florida was a little fish in a big pond until he came here — well, most us will simply have to throw up.

  • Max

    Just stumbled on this “gem” of an article. So inane I don’t know why TL would publish this dreck.

 

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