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If you are an avid San Antonio event goer, you likely remember Chef Tim the Girl’s series of pop-ups with the late local artist Peter Zubiate, which we credit as starting the pop-up trend you now see all over the country.

For those newer to the scene, Tim McDiarmid is a Canadian native who has deeply planted roots in New York City and Texas. She has become a well-versed San Antonio chef and entrepreneur who has used her unique skill set to impact people’s lives through her colorful personality, fresh-as-it-gets food and over-the-top events. There is nothing boring about anything she touches, so we sat down with her to ask about all things event planning.

Tell us about your background in hosting big events. We hear you have a big family and it’s in your roots.

I’ve been putting on events since I was born! I grew up in a very remote place in British Columbia and often didn’t see many people so I would have parties with my animals. Tea with the horses was particularly fun! I am the oldest of five kids and have many, many cousins on both sides. There was always action and lots of family around. My mother is an amazing cook and so we were definitely the popular house in which to hang out. Mostly everyone stayed for dinner and never wanted to leave. Orchestrating madness is in my blood! I love to see people connect and savor moments.

Looking back in your portfolio, you seem to be the first in San Antonio to put together pop-up events. Tell us more about that.

Yes! There was actually an article that came out a few years after I moved here with a title something like “Tim the Girl brought the pop up to San Antonio.” It truly was just a ploy to market my wares! I met Peter Zubiate and Katie Pell when my son was at The Circle School. I was very depressed and traumatized after leaving the father of my son and moving thousands of miles to a new town where I had no friends or family. It was really a hard, hard time. I had no idea how I would support my son and me and couldn’t shake my depression. Peter suggested that I do something to try to move forward. We came up with this amazing idea and from there we started Special Project Social. We worked with local artists who made plates. Peter and Katie knew anyone who was anyone in the art scene, and I was the chef de cuisine. It was scrappy and grassroots but was really the beginning of everything. Peter curated the tables, Katie the artists, and me the food and drinks. We had fun bringing people together through art and food and the location was not shared until the day of, so that was fun, too. We cooked in every place you could imagine!

Fast forward to Ivy Hall and the creation of that space in San Antonio. Tell us how you swung getting that space and what you have been up to there.

My friend Stacy Hill owned the most beautiful property in all of San Antonio and, in fact, it was one of our first special projects. At the time, I would never have dreamt of owning it, even in my wildest dreams. Four years ago she approached me about leasing the property and I was pretty maxed out with our Pearl location as well as catering, but I am a risk taker and went for it. We opened the event venue and the restaurant a year before COVID-19 hit. I had to make many quick changes and decisions for survival and now we run everything from this gorgeous acre of property. When the chance to buy it came up, we jumped on it. Every day I am in awe of how amazing life is and how amazing it is when dreams fall into place. Especially dreams you didn’t know you had. It’s been a grueling few years but I have much to be grateful for. We see Ivy Hall as a community gathering space, and our new dinner series has been a long time coming. I am doing the first one, but we will feature many amazing chefs from around the country going forward!

What is your best advice to anyone hosting a party?

Hire us! Or take one of our charcuterie board classes; we can help you make things beautiful!

What is your funniest story or most embarrassing memory of an event you hosted?

The first Special Project Social that we did, Peter and his crew were still building tables when guests were arriving. Then as we grew and grew, one time we were even cooking backstage as an event was taking place! Nothing like washing dishes with a hose and dancing to a funky local DJ while doing it!

Where can people learn more about you and Ivy Hall?

Visit timthegirl.com and/or ivyhallevents.com to learn more. With an acre of stunning gardens and gorgeous indoor space also, we are able to bring just about any type of celebration to life. Events from 20 to 500 are welcome!

Is there any secret upcoming event you can share details of?

Funny you should ask. We are supporting one of my passion-meets-heart-and-soul nonprofit organizations: SARAH, the South Alamo Regional Alliance for the Homeless. We will be donating proceeds to them, as the cause and the community means so much to me and my team! Not only that, we are bringing back the pop-up vibes at Ivy Hall! Join us for Evenings at Ivy: An Al Fresco Mediterranean Dinner hosted by me on Thursday, March 24, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Guests will enjoy an evening filled with flavors from the Mediterranean with a carefully curated menu plus accompanying wine or cocktail pairings.

Tickets are $175 per person and include:

  • Cocktail hour with passed appetizers
    • Roasted tomato and grape toasts with fava bean puree, and bitter greens farinata with grilled shrimp, pumpkin seed pesto and jicama
  • Three-course meal and dessert
    • First course: Chickpea fritters over greens and fresh coconut with preserved lemon vinaigrette
    • Second course: Salad of greens, beets, berries, herbs and roasted grains
    • Third course: Lamb lollipops with mint relish caponata, ​and grilled carrots with yogurt and pomegranate molasses ​
  • Dessert
    • Honey-sweetened mascarpone with berries and pistachio biscotti

Get your tickets here: https://bit.ly/3seyrWH.

Emily Bergh

Emily Reynolds Bergh is word weaver and content curator. She pioneered hospitality marketing in 2011 in San Antonio with her firm and hasn’t stopped.