When I first attended a Hidden Rhythm dinner… I was so (SO SO SO) impressed. Cynthia Samanian creates an ultimate supper club experience for parties of 10-30 and makes a living doing so. I HAD TO INTERVIEW HER ON VIOLET FOG. I looove people with a niche passion!
So what is a Hidden Rhythm dinner like?
Think social. Curated. Gorgeous decor. Deliciousness. Different. Happy. Engaging.
A room full of people who believe in celebrating life and connecting over food. No heads down in your phones. No awkward interactions. Instead, it’s a place where strangers can break bread together. Laugh, drink good wine, eat good food.
Learn about cool foodie brands and experiences.
Beyond anything- a Hidden Rhythym dinner is SO FUN. If anyone can get their hands on an invite before they sell out, they will see what I mean. All dinner parties are themed too!
The one I went to was called “Summer Solstice.” It was inspired by Cynthia’s love for the Amalfi Coast in Italy.
Below I’ll share photos from the event and throughout it share the interview I had with Cynthia. Homegirl is passionate, SMART, and inspiring!
+What is the concept behind Hidden Rythym?
Cynthia (Hidden Rhythm): Hidden Rhythm was inspired by my own experiences around the dinner table. I grew up in a Persian home outside Seattle, and food is a really big part of our culture. My family ate dinner together nearly every night, and my parents loved hosting dinner parties. From grocery shopping to cooking days in advance, there was so much work involved. As a kid, I had no idea why my parents went through all the effort…and frankly hated my chore of setting the table.
Once I moved into my first apartment, I fell in love with the Food Network (team Ina!) and got into cooking. After I had a handle on a few recipes, I’d invite friends over for dinner. I loved the feeling of making something for people I cared about, and they liked it too. No matter what dinner party I hosted or attended, people would always seem to say “let’s do that again!”
I quickly learned that dinner parties were never just about the food. But it was always the people and conversations made the experience. The Spanish language has one of my favorite words, sobremesa, which is the time after a meal when you linger, have another drink, and share stories. Looking back, it’s crystal clear why my parents went through all that effort to host their friends, many of them Persian immigrants like themselves. I credit the dinner table as the real OG social network. 😉
But let’s be real: hosting dinner parties wasn’t all rosy. Sifting through recipes took so much time and it was hard to tell what would work and not cost a fortune. Sprinkle in ideas on how to make the table Insta-worthy? (Because let’s face it, your friends will want to snap a photo.) So stressful.
These challenges inspired me to create an accessible go-to resource for the busy, modern host. Hidden Rhythm offers original recipes and simple get-together ideas, like our 30-minute shakshuka recipe or DIY chia pudding bar. We also host monthly CK Supper Club dinners and brand-sponsored events.
Ultimately, our mission is to spark social connection through food. We want to help people set the table…even if that means the tiny coffee table in their studio apartment.
Learned about TARTLY here… this drink has apple cider vinegar in it and actually tastes BOMB.
+Tell us what you were doing BEFORE Hidden Rhythm
Cynthia: I often joke that I perpetually feel 26 years old. Well, I hate to break it to you, but I’m not. 😉 What I mean to say is that I’ve had a few very different careers over the last several years, so I feel like I’m always learning and growing.
Directly before going full-time on Hidden Rhythm, I worked in product management at a mobile app startup. I learned how to build software for mobile, work with designers and engineers, and launch a product. I also discovered the value of user research and knowing your market.
Before that, I went to Harvard Business School for my MBA. I knew full well that I wanted to found my own company, but didn’t know what that would be. As part of the curriculum, I spent every day reading and discussing business cases from a variety of industries. I worked on a few business plans and learned as much as I could about startups. I loved every minute of business school and wouldn’t have traded those two years for anything.
And before that, I worked at GE in their finance rotation program. While my heart wasn’t in analyzing aircraft leases and corporate real estate, it was an amazing experience to travel to their offices around the world and see how one of the world’s largest companies is run.
She used Kite Hill cheese for this table and OH MY GAWD I can’t believe dairy free cheese could be so good.
+What did it take to first launch CK? How did you know when it was ready?
Cynthia: Hidden Rhythm has been years in the making — just under different guises. I had dabbled in food blogs since 2008, so I had experience creating content and eventually food photography. I learned how to use a DSLR, attended food styling workshops, and enrolled in online courses for Lightroom and Photoshop. I’m so thankful I learned how to shoot food while it was “just a hobby”, because it saved me so much money from not needing to hire a photographer.
While I’m the only full-time person at Hidden Rhythm, trust me when I say it took (and still takes) a village to build the site and run our events. I work with an awesome group of chefs, mixologists, writers, and photographers — even though they aren’t technically employees, I still consider them part of the HR fam.
From day one, I knew that brand would really matter, especially in the food space. I spent countless hours reading brand books, defining our values, pinning inspiration, and meeting with my designer to get the look and feel just right. I am so lucky to work with an amazing designer and developer duo who continue to keep Hidden Rhythm’s site looking fresh and functioning smoothly.
I also knew that the content needed to be high-quality from the start. To help me, I hired a talented group of recipe developers and writers. We created recipes and articles dedicated to beginners. The recipes absolutely needed to work or else we’d lose our readers’ trust. So before launching, we ran a beta program where we’d email recipes to friends and ask them to try it and give their feedback. This helped us test our recipe quality and learn more about the pain points of a kitchen newbie.
+What is the hardest part about running your own business?
Cynthia: Paying my rent.
I’m serious. The financial tradeoffs of “doing what you love” are real. It takes so much focus and energy to build a business, and when you add in the layer of finances, it can be super overwhelming. I don’t have a partner to split the rent, but I also don’t have anyone else to support – no kids, not even a pet. So there’s that.
It’s very important to me that Hidden Rhythm be a cash flow positive business and not depend on outside funding in the early stages. It takes time to build that out, so in the meantime I’ve bootstrapped the business through consulting work and freelance projects.
+What advice do you have for people who want to start a business revolving food? (Non-restaurant but still food involved.)
Cynthia: Just when you think you have your “story”, dig deeper…and deeper. Then write it down and don’t forget it.
The food world is a crowded place, but what I wanted didn’t exist and I knew I had a unique voice to contribute. The company is named Hidden Rhythm because I wanted to celebrate the social side of food: potlucks, brunches, dinner parties, and more.
After launching the site in July 2016, I started to worry that perhaps my niche was too small. I experimented with different kinds of recipes and articles, and found relatively easy, quick-wins to get traffic. But by the end of the year, I felt like I had really gone off course. On top of that, the Presidential election had really made me reevaluate my personal purpose and revisit my original vision for creating Hidden Rhythm. In January, I made an intentional decision to focus on dinner parties and get-togethers, and I’m so glad I took the time to pause and reset.
^^ This is Cynthia!! Beautiful brunette on the left.
+What are your future dreams of Hidden Rhythm?
Cynthia: I want to build an empire, obviously!
Seriously though, I dream a lot. I have dreams of a beautiful office and culinary media co-working space. An interactive all-day conference all about cooking. Pop-up events across the country. Colorful products that inspire people to gather their friends.
I’d love for Hidden Rhythm to leave its mark in the world as a brand that reinforced the importance of human connection through social food experiences.
Because there is a professional photographer (And everyone has access to the photos after) guests are asked to put their phones away! I LOVE THAT.
+Favorite compliments or comments you’ve received from someone who experienced a HR dinner?
Cynthia: I feel so grateful when people come to our events, because they’re giving up their precious time and money in hopes of having a great experience. I really don’t take that responsibility lightly, and I think it’s what drives me to care so much about the details.
One of the greatest compliments is through actions! When people enjoy our event enough to come back, that always feels so good. And it’s even more exciting when they bring along a friend who’s never heard of Hidden Rhythm. Whenever I get a text or email from someone asking “when’s the next CK dinner?” it makes me so happy.
One of her sponsors was Giovanni Rana Pasta…. ummmmm. So good. Like I am going to make a dish one day for a future boyfriend and try to pass it off as my own. 😉
All the guests got to decorate cookies provided by Miss Jones Baking Co! It was sooooo fun and cute.
Thank you so much to the inspiring Cynthia of Hidden Rhythm!!
Stay on top of dinners coming up that you can attend in San Francisco by following her on Instagram and also checking her website! It’s such a fun experience, spectacular food, and also a great way to meet new people!
Written by your home girls at The Violet Fog