The Dinner Party on WUNC

Sat 4p
  • Hosted by Brendan Francis Newnam and Rico Gagliano

The Dinner Party is a culture show designed to help you dazzle your friends at your next social gathering. Launched as a podcast in 2010, The Dinner Party is beloved by audiences for its spontaneity, thoughtfulness and exuberance. The show was lauded by Wallpaper magazine as one of the “Top 40 Reasons to Live in America” and hosts Gagliano and Newnam were named to Food & Wine magazine’s “40 Big Thinkers Under 40” list. 

What happened to your WUNC coffee mug, Rico?
Credit APM

The show unfolds like a dinner party, kicking off with “The Icebreaker”— a joke to warm things up. Next comes “Small Talk,” in which top print and online journalists from around the country share their favorite odd news story of the week.  The “Cocktails” portion of the show features a true tale from this week in history with a handcrafted cocktail recipe themed after that it.

Later, we usually “Eavesdrop” on an author reading from a hot new release or answer listeners’ burning etiquette questions. The marquee segment of the show is the “Guest of Honor,” in which hosts Gagliano and Newnam interview some of the most fascinating celebrities in the world and routinely get them to talk about the most unexpected, dinner-party-worthy subjects.


Douglas, Emerald

Comedians John Early and Kate Berlant are frequent collaborators and have performed together across the country. The duo also has a new Vimeo series, “555,” produced by Tim and Eric’s Abso Lutely, It tells five different tales of Hollywood desperation.

In the audio extra above, John and Kate talk about their favorite moments from “Waiting For Guffman,” how a teenage Kate got rejected by an agent for child actors, and how John threw his back out working at an ice cream shop in high school.

Brendan’s Sunday Stuffed Olives (VIDEO)

Feb 21, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

This past Sunday, Brendan joined Hannah Kirshner of Sweets & Bitters for a special Facebook Live with Food 52. We figured we all hate the Sunday blues, right? Monday is looming around the corner, and with that in mind, you can’t go too heavy on going out.

You might say, “But what about brunch?!?” Well, don’t get us started on what’s wrong with brunch.

Menu Mysteries: Wolfdown Edition

Feb 17, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

This isn’t just any ol’ Main Course segment this week. We’re launching something new: an occasional series we’re calling “Menu Mysteries.” In which we check out a restaurant’s menu and have the chef decode some of the lesser known ingredients on it.

For this inaugural outing, Rico went to Wolfdown in Los Angeles — a new restaurant from chef Jason Kim, who also runs the beloved local joint Forage.

Lopez, Kristina

Each week you send in your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this time is author George Saunders. He is a bonafide MacArthur genius, and he has won international acclaim for his work in almost every prose form from hilarious satire to short stories to a children’s book.

Lopez, Kristina

Damien Chazelle’s latest movie, “La La Land,” has been nominated for 14 Academy Awards, tying it with “All About Eve” and “Titanic” for the most nominations of all time.

It’s an original musical set in modern Los Angeles, about a jazz musician who falls for an aspiring actress — both of whom have come to Hollywood to pursue their dreams.

The Health Nut Who Invented Corn Flakes

Feb 17, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

The History Lesson

John Harvey Kellogg wasn’t your average 19th-century doctor.

At a time when the American diet was mainly meat and potatoes, he advocated vegetarianism. Today, we’d laud him for that, but we might question some other moves he said would lead to excellent health. Like, standing inside an electrified metal cage. Or undergoing — sorry, there’s no nice way to put this — daily water and yogurt enemas.

Ottessa Moshfegh’s 3 Favorite Wanderers and Weirdos

Feb 10, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Ottessa Moshfegh is a frequent contributor to the literary magazine The Paris Review. And her novel “Eileen” was shortlisted for the twenty-sixteen Man Booker prize. Her latest work is a collection of stories about characters on the fringes of society — it’s called “Homesick for Another World.”

Beer for Breakfast? We Try the Danish Dish Øllebrød

Feb 10, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

We’ve talked before about the rebirth of Scandinavian cuisine and Brendan did a story from Copenhagen on how their open-faced sandwiches are a thing that’s become trendy, but we’ve never heard about a common Danish breakfast food that Brendan has been calling “beer porridge.”

Lopez, Kristina

Ian Simpson, better known by his stage name Kevin Abstract, is a Texas native who won a diehard following online with a series of confessional hip-hop mixtapes. His new album “American Boyfriend: A Suburban Love Story” moves in a more pop direction, and sees him both rapping and singing about never quite fitting in. He heads out on a national tour later this month. Here’s Kevin with a playlist that’ll keep your party moving… through time itself.

Lopez, Kristina

[Ed note: The audio above is an extended web cut of the interview. The transcript below reflects the broadcast version of the chat.]

Our guest of honor this week is playwright/actor/rapper extraordinaire Lin-Manuel Miranda. In 2008, his musical “In The Heights” won the Tony for Best Musical. His follow-up “Hamilton” — about our nation’s first treasury secretary — broke box office records and earned him a bunch of Tonys, a Grammy and the Pulitzer Prize for Drama.

Tinariwen – ‘Assawt’

Feb 9, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

How American Money Upgraded From Coins to Paper

Feb 3, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Those dollar bills in your wallet wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the Nine Years’ War.

That was one of a bunch of wars between France and Britain. Which, among other things, involved fighting in what’s now called “Canada.” The British wanted folks in their American colonies to fight as soldiers on their side. Which was fine with the colonists… as long as they got paid for it.

Arcade Fire – ‘I Give You Power’

Feb 3, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Steve Aoki’s Hardcore Dinner Party Soundtrack

Feb 3, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

This week for our party soundtrack we have an actual DJ manning the controls — one of the most popular in the world, in fact.

Steve Aoki spins and mixes electro house music at massive parties from Las Vegas to Beijing. He collaborates with the biggest names in pop music, and a concert film about his work called “Steve Aoki: I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” is up for a Grammy on February 12.

Here’s Steve with a playlist that’ll probably wake your neighbor at three in the morning.

Rachel Bloom Gives us Some Not-So-Crazy Advice

Feb 3, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Rico Gagliano: Each week, you send in your questions about how to behave, and here to answer them this time around is actor, writer, and musical number belter-outer Rachel Bloom. A few years back, she set the Internet ablaze with a heartfelt and highly vulgar musical tribute to the late…

Brendan Francis Newnam: You can talk while he’s doing this, too. It’s totally Ok.

Rachel Bloom: Oh, I can?

Brendan Francis Newnam: Yeah.

Lopez, Kristina

Brit Marling first attracted some attention when two movies she co-wrote and starred in premiered at Sundance in the same year. Those films, “Sound of My Voice” and “Another Earth,” were widely acclaimed by critics and they both explored metaphysical themes. We talked with her about “Another Earth” back in 2011.

Cristela Alonzo Finds the Funny in her Family

Jan 20, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

Comedian Cristela Alonzo grew up in south Texas and got her start performing stand up in Dallas. Then she struggled for years in the L.A. comedy scene before becoming the first Latina to write and star in her own TV show. It was called “Cristela” and it aired on ABC. Her new comedy special launches this Tuesday on Netflix, it’s called “Lower Classy.” She talks about the special and how her family had a major influence on her jokes. (Find her advice for the proper way to dine on pan dulce here.

Cristela Alonzo Gives Us Some ‘Lower Classy’ Advice

Jan 20, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

After chatting with us about her upcoming Netflix comedy special and explaining the story of why the sight of Girl Scouts struck fear into her mother’s heart, the comedian stuck around to answer our few of our listeners’ etiquette questions… and offers us a new business opportunity.

The proper way to dine on pan dulce

Aravind Adiga Gives Us a New Definition of ‘Century’

Jan 20, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

One time financial reporter Aravind Adiga won the Booker Prize for his debut novel, 2008’s “The White Tiger.” He was the fourth Indian-born writer ever to do so.

Lopez, Kristina

The History Lesson

By some accounts, the first woman to graduate from an American med school only got there by accident.

Lopez, Kristina

NFL star Steve Gleason was a safety for the New Orleans Saints. And he became a hero after blocking a punt in the team’s first home game after Hurricane Katrina. But not long after retiring from the NFL, he was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Lopez, Kristina

Brendan Francis Newnam: Back in the ’70s, Steve Jones and his band, Sex Pistols, lasted all of three years and put out a single album, but they helped turn punk from a fringe musical movement to a snarling, international phenomena and gave misfits everywhere anthems like, “Anarchy in the U.K.”

Ava DuVernay Unpacks the Issues at Play in ’13th’

Jan 13, 2017
Lopez, Kristina

In 2012, Ava DuVernay became the first African-American to win Best Director at Sundance and in 2014, she earned raves for her civil rights drama “Selma,” which was up for an Oscar for Best Picture. (Be sure to check out our chat with the film’s star David Oyelowo.)

Lopez, Kristina

The History Lesson

It sounds like a kid’s fantasy: A giant wave of sugar. The reality was not so sweet.

It was a cold January day in Boston, 1919. And, at a distilling company with the deceptively pleasant name of “Purity,” a calamity was brewing… in the form of a giant steel storage vat full of molasses.

Lopez, Kristina

Natalie Mering makes gorgeous music under the name Weyes Blood. Her new album “Front Row Seat To Earth” sets soaring vocals against lush horns and almost classical-sounding piano.