Jim Haines, a native Lousiana, world traveler and a retired Paris university prof, began is Sunday dinners 35 years ago. He recently talked about "Inviting the World to Dinner'' on NPR's "This I believe.'' Jim's goal is to bring people together, and he's a master at what he does. His Sunday dinners are a lot like going to a huge party - he tries to limit the guests to the first 50-60 who call and reserve, but the crowd can easily top 100 in summers -where no one knows each other, but everyone's game for meeting new friends. Artists, musicians, actors, teachers and friends of friends, most of whom have never met, mingle elbow-to-elbow over a stand-up meal in a combination kitchen/studio atelier no bigger than some living rooms. All you have to do is go to his Web site and click on "Come to Sunday Dinner!" then call or e-mail him for a reservation. Short notice is OK.
Across town, Atlanta native Patricia Laplante-Collins gathers 20-25 for the Sunday soirées she hosts weekly on the third floor of her Right Bank apartment in the garment district of Santier. Patricia's dinners are more intimate, and usually include a guest or a discussion topic on art, photography etc. As an only child growing up in Atlanta, she would host imaginary tea parties after church on hot Sunday afternoons. After moving to France, she arranged fund-raising events for American organizations and trained at Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne cooking schools.
Next time you're in Paris looking for something different to do on a Sunday night when many restaurants are closed, give Jim or Patricia a call and invite yourself to dinner. You won't regret it.
Here's a link to a story I did after attending both dinners a few years ago: Sunday suppers in Paris.