Twenty clever women (and two men in the kitchen)

Men at work

In May this year, I realised that I did not see enough of my female friends. Whilst the Boys are pretty easy to find barside, the Girls are more difficult to pin down.

My girl friends are a fabulous lot and seeing them always a great joy. But finding the time is an onerous task. And then the train pulled into the station (albeit more slowly than it might): I would invite them to dinner. All of them. At the same time.

One evening, in our usual spot at the Eyre Brothers, I outlined the idea to a couple of male friends; red-blooded both, they were keen to become part of the action. And so it came to pass, that one Tuesday night in June, my kitchen was commandeered by two marvelous men, who served a veritable banquet, of Indian origin, to twenty wonderful women.

The Clever Women’s Dinner was met with unprecedented enthusiasm. Having anticipated that of the twenty-five invited, perhaps ten might turn up, a combination of events conspired to prevent only the journalists from attending. A shame, because the expertise of these five cut across favourite topics of art, architecture, design, travel and sex. They were missed, but we managed. Somehow, yes, we managed.

You can take this Girl out of PR but … I instinctively researched what everyone was up to right now, and therefore know what they might have in common and how I would introduce them. There was no need, for these women just got on with it. Introductions were self-made, commonalities established and even cards exchanged within about a nano-second.

I should have guessed, because 99% of my guests run their own business. This gathering was an enlightening insight into my circle of female friends: like-minded, resourceful, creative, opinionated, beautiful and strong. To a woman.

At around 7.30pm, the first guest arrived; by 9pm, the room was ringing with conversation emanating from gorgeous creatures aged from 18 to somewhere around mid-50 (or more, its difficult to tell). The last lady left at 3am, after songs were sung and dances, er, danced. You know who you are.

So who made up this Oestrogen Army? What remarkable wealth of talent had congregated in my house?

Delightfully, we had three mother-daughter contingents (including the home team, as both my Clever Girls attended). Trayler and Trayler represent image-makers – both Carolyn and her progeny Skye got along with all the creative talent filling the room, not least mother-and-daughter Sarah Haque and Fatima who run fashion and licensing empire Urban Species, my very own Chef de Partie, Giorgia McAllister Forte, feisty Photographer Amelia Troubridge, Cinematographer Alessandra Scherillo and the glorious, willowy blonde Architect, Holly Porter.

At the dining table, I witnessed an animated discussion around publishing. Leading the debate was Trolley Books’ Hannah Watson, with lively input from illustrator Laura Quick, my Adventuresse Alessandra McAllister and her (and my) friend, the inimitable, warm, enterprising Sophie James. This duo also learned a great deal about life in a 1980s commune from neighbour, actress and writer Wanda Briggs.

Outside, gardening expert Claire Gladstone and City Marketeer Samantha Barber came up with psychedelic patio ideas I will never be able to realise (thanks, Girls). Around them, conversation flowed between author Philippa Stockley, the best pub landlady in the world Farika Skilton and Italian fashionista Michela Gisotti, whom I also noticed getting along with documentary producer Anna Lisa Piras and glamorous, elegant lawyer, Virginie Lalanne.

Virginie wisely positioned herself at the threshold of living room and kitchen, a hothouse of culinary creativity. Here she could see Calligrapher to the Stars, Satwinder Sehmi and her partner, Artist and Man-About-Town, Robert Fairman conjure up the most incredible (edible) spice.

Our dishy chefs presented us with truly bespoke cuisine; dishes to die for. From 3pm that afternoon until the table was stripped bare at nearly midnight, the pair simply didn’t stop chopping, sizzling, serving, flirting … and found themselves universally admired and adored by Twenty Clever Women.

Well, twenty-one in fact … Boys, thank you for a wonderful and hugely successful night. I love you too. Oh, and how are you fixed in January?

© Giovanna Forte

About fortewinks

A PA at 19 and self employed PR at 26, Giovanna is now a British healthcare entrepreneur and public speaker. She is also a bon vivant, mother of two accomplished, entrepreneurial daughters and recently became a Nonna. Youngest-of-All is a Melbourne Top 30 under 30 Chef and founder of, the city's finest destination for pastries and soft-serve. FirstBorn is a published author as well as Certified Aromatherapy Practitioner; her studio is in East London and she can be reached through
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4 Responses to Twenty clever women (and two men in the kitchen)

  1. Sarah Haque says:

    Thank you G for a most wonderful evening on a lovely balmy evening. What a marvelous idea it was & myself & Fatima still tell all about your mother / daughter dinner evening. we mst a lot of amazing women, enjoyed the great food & had a few glasses of lovely bubbly. When’s the next one? she says cheekily : ) Thank you again you lovely generous lady, hope to see u soon, S xxx


  2. Sarah Haque says:

    Sorry, a couple of typos up there. Also meant to say, proud to be a part of such a diverse, interesting & intelligent group of women. Thank you to the gorgeous men for providing the nourishment that night, Love Sarah xxx


  3. You’re very lucky to have so many lovely and interesting people in your life!


  4. Pingback: For the love of a good man (or few) | fortewinks

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