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As a food blogger I've had the privilege of eating my way through Houston in some of the most elaborate and unique of ways. I adore dining when it goes beyond the food to create an experience, a meaningful exchange for attention and time that I can't wait to tell everyone about. My favorite dining experience of all time has to be the pop up dinner. The concept of being able to dine in a temporary space with a menu I will never see again, builds anticipation the way few things can.

I first had the idea to host a pop up 2 years ago with the MsIndependent Pop Up Summer Brunch, but I grossly underestimated the level of complexity and effort that it takes to pull off a successful pop up. I knew if I was to host another event I didn't want to do all the cooking myself, or at least not most of the time. Instead I wanted to create an opportunity for women chefs and home chefs like myself to share their love of food with others, which lead to the Her Chef Series. This series will feature pop up brunches and dinners featuring all women cooks. For the first woman I wanted to share with the MsIndependent audience I enlisted a dear friend, brilliant fitness blogger, and vegetarian foodie. Starla Garcia of Starla Shines.

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With 2018 still fresh and new, I wanted to offer our dinner guests a healthful dinner that wouldn't wreck any of their new year, new me goals. I gave Starla total creative control over the menu and had full confidence in her abilities to create something amazing. We set a date and decided to host the pop up dinner at Etta's Kitchen, which is a gorgeous space might I add. Here are all the delicious details.

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We had a dozen dinner guests both men and women, all beautiful faces that Starla and I were excited to see. With any debut event the turnout is never predictable, but we were more than happy with the turn out.

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Watching Starla prepare and plate was so fun to watch. She had never prepared a dinner like this before, but she looked like a pro. The courses were perfectly spaced out for time, the plating was amazing, and everyone absolutely loved everything. The menu was inspired by Starla's everyday Latin cooking, more specifically Mexican cuisine with Central American flavors. Nearly everything was made from scratch and cooked in a healthy way. Starla is a registered dietitian, which is another reason I was excited to have her hosting.

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1st course: Plantain Chips with Mango Salsa

2nd course: Chickpea Chile Verde Soup

3rd course: Mushroom Flautas with Spicy Pepita Sauce

4th course: Matcha Ice cream and Caramelized Plantains

Featured Cocktail: Tropical Flower with Dry Sparkling

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Thank you to everyone that attended our first Her Chef Series dinner. Our next dinner in the series will be in the summer featuring a seasonal menu and another female chef. Leave a comment below and let me know what you'd like to see on the menu. You just might see it at the next dinner.

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