Deconstructing This (Deceptively) Messy Table from Leadership Pasadena’s Setting the Table Event

A “Game of Thrones” themed table designed by This Messy Table. – Courtesy photo by ConstantHouse

By Linda Taubenreuther

The lavishly wild yet carefully choreographed madness of This Messy Table first emerged at one of owner Kabrel Geller’s at-home cocktail parties. She’d just placed an overflowing cheese and charcuterie platter on the dining room table when something wonderful happened. By the time the first guests arrived, she’d turned the whole tabletop into a gorgeous chaos of fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, and more. She didn’t know it then, but This Messy Table had been born.

Today, Geller’s brand of “perfectly imperfect grazing” can be tucked into everywhere from social gatherings and charity bashes to corporate soirees. Whether it’s an intimate birthday party or the dazzling HBO premier gala for “Catherine the Great,” every table is a new story. They all have only three things in common: abundance, variety and the unexpected.

A table designed for HBO’s premier gala for “Catherine the Great.” – Courtesy photo by Anabelle Polak

Whether the table measures 6 feet or 100, Geller and her team turn every inch into an eclectically opulent cornucopia of locally sourced fruits and vegetables, specialty cheeses, cured meats, dips, spreads and chutneys, fresh baked bread, crackers, grapes, figs, olives, dried fruits, nuts, chocolates and sweets, with slabs of honeycomb for the breaking. This wealth of spicy, savory and sweet choices lets guests create their own combinations, with an eye to every diet and food preference.

Geller’s creations may look messy, but they couldn’t be farther from mere piles of food. The selections are arranged carelessly yet artfully on logs, rough slices of tree trunk, wrought iron accessories, cutting boards, wooden crates, brown paper bags and more. Whole herbs, vines, branches, flowers and beeswax candles are woven between the items, which sometimes tumble artlessly from one level to another. “It’s all about layers and complexity,” she says. One delighted client described her table as “its own work of art, pure theater and a perfect talking point.”

The thought and care put into the delightfully disheveled tables can get incredibly detailed; Geller thinks nothing of matching the table card font to the one used for a client’s wedding invitations. She also includes art and décor elements that enrich the statement, from vintage cheese graters, mirrors and art tiles to olives piled in a softly worn silver gravy boat. She also takes special requests in stride: at a celebration for someone with a passion for Twizzlers, the red treats were happily tucked into the design.

Actress Mae West famously said, “Too much of a good thing is wonderful.” Geller couldn’t agree more and she proves it every day.

Geller brought her creative flare to Setting the Table, a sensational, unconventional opportunity for designers, floral artists, event planners, non-profits and others to make stunning visual statements with their interpretation of the table design theme, “The World of Conversation.” The fun-filled evening on Nov. 9 featured delicious food and beverages – and a tablescape competition. Guests voted for their favorite design and the top two winning designs received a $6,000 ad from Dreams magazine.

November 13, 2019

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