Local Love: The Special Projects Social

As a my one-year-blogging-anniversary is approaching (July 2012), I want to introduce a new chapter for Defining Delicious.  It’s called Local Love. As you know, I love supporting Mom n’ Pop shops, perhaps it’s the small town gal in me. Local Love is dedicated to the women, mothers, girls and feminine goddesses out there beating eggs and beating the odds in the food world.  This new chapter is about the inspiring women at local eateries who are shaping our food culture. First, I’d like to share about someone who exudes collaboration and culinary creativity in San Antonio, TX. A wonderful friend of mine, Tim-The-Girl McDiarmid the story speaks for itself and the moral is:  whether you live in San Antonio, San Fransisco or San Juan Puerto Rico, I highly recommend attending A Special Projects Social. It is truly a marriage of the minds.


(Tim McDiarmid taken by Xelina Flores-Chasnoff)

Many of us can relate, planning a wedding is an absolute hair-pulling task. While the allure of the perfect white dress beckons, the stressors rise like Mount Rushmore in the background.  Doesn’t your jaw tighten at the thought of where to seat the relatives you haven’t seen in years? How about creating a set-list for the band, or the bridesmaids loving their you-can-wear-this-again dresses? And let’s not forget the food. We yearn for our guests to rave about how un-wedding our chicken oscar tastes, right? Our spectrum of hopes ranges from marrying the love of our lives to pleasing our mothers.

If you’re Tim McDiarmid, owner of Tim-The-Girl Catering, planning a wedding is a monthly event. No, she’s not wedding planner.  Rather, McDiarmid is the wildly creative catalyst to a monthly marriage of the minds.  She is one of the visionaries behind San Antonio’s premier pop-up dining experience, The Special Projects Social.  Although pop-up dining is very chic in LA and New York, you’re not alone if you have no clue what a pop-up restaurant is. Essentially you buy a ticket for a sit-down dinner at an undisclosed location.  Currently there are only around 50 tickets sold at each event. Although, The Special Projects has gained much popularity, the vision remains to keep the events intimate despite demands for more seating.  24 hours before you are due to arrive you find out where you will be dining via email.  All you do is show up and everything, maybe even the unique artisan plate that you dine on is included.

“We have created a home-spun web of talent,” McDiarmid comments.  The Special Projects is a collaborative gathering of talented artists combining forces to create an evening of escape.  It is the most blissful stress-free wedding you’ve never attended. At the May event we were welcomed with cocktails, beer and wine from local afficianados.  Our eyes were tickled with local art peppering the walls, homemade wooden tables, an extraordinary fashion expo and handcrafted dinnerware. Our tastes were delighted with hors d’oeuvres made by Partridge in a Pie Tree. We experienced a seasonally savvy dinner crafted by Tim-The-Girl McDiarmid herself and we indulged in desserts made by Ayons Bakery.  A talented musical duo enlivened our ears.  One guest commented, “these are the fascinating people you never imagined lived right here in San Antonio.”  McDiarmid explained, “What I kill myself doing is getting people to work together who may never do so in any other circumstance.” It’s a chance to get out of your comfort bubble and step into a world inspired by Tim’s vibrant cohesive vision.  All while enjoying a delicious artisan meal.


Juggling 50 hungry guests is not the only thing on McDiarmid’s plate. She is also the founder of Eat Smart, a local non-profit teaching healthy eating habits. As well as teaching cooking classes, catering private parties and planning a culinary adventure to Italy this summer.

McDiarmid’s culinary roots began on her family farm in Vancouver Canada. “I grew up picking food from my backyard and learning how to make it taste amazing from my mother,” she comments. McDiarmid moved to New York City where she spent 17 years refining her culinary technique and honing her palette. “I rarely rely on recipes but rather I become inspired by the ingredients themselves,” she says. Her culinary influences are global. Her travels and city dwellings have fashioned a woman who is a wholesome chef.  McDiarmid comments, “Greece, Turkey, Portugal, Spain and Morocco influence me heavily.  I only work with fresh ingredients. Fresh is more than a buzz word to me, it is a necessity.”

McDiarmid landed in San Antonio in 2009. As a single mother she began searching for a great school for her son.  Her co-operative personality found solace at The Circle School.  She enrolled her son in the school and she began to volunteer with her free time.  She met Peter Zubiate while rebuilding a fence for The Circle School.  In 2011 this duo created Special Projects and the May event was the pop-up’s one-year anniversary.  They wanted to intermingle Peter’s woodworking skills with Tim’s culinary talent. Zubiate crafts the beautiful pecan tree tables showcased at each event.  These long beautiful tables have Zubiate’s signature feel to them. McDiarmid adorns the woodwork with farm-fresh foods creating a welcoming centerpiece for the evening.  Peter added, “Tim and I have similar ideas about work and getting things done. We never say no to any crazy idea but we may rein each other in when needed.”


The Special Projects Social events are an opportunity to break bread with the most wildly creative and talented people in San Antonio. Whether you’re a refined foodie or you yearn to expand your artistic horizons you will be in good company.  If you can get your hands on a ticket that is.  http://thespecialprojectssocial.com for dates, photos of past events and ticket sales. To find out more about Tim McDiarmid  or set up a cooking class, check out http://www.timthegirl.com and Vegetarian Cooking in Italy.

All the gorgeous photos above were taken by the talented,  Xelina Flores-Chasnoff and posted with permission. Xelina is an artistic photographer, artist and doula. She owns and operates Luz Doula Service in San Antonio, TX.