Elisa Marshall, Founding father of Maman, on Creating Magnificence on the Desk

How I Collect

Bringing folks collectively round a desk is our best ardour in life and we imagine meals is among the strongest instruments for connection. In our collection, How I Collect we go behind the scenes with our favourite foodies to see how they do it. See All

The perfect hosts have a number of issues in frequent. They discover inspiration at each flip, don’t sweat the small stuff, and invite everybody to the desk. Elisa Marshall embodies these values inherent in making a significant gathering—one which’s grounded in connection and creativity. Alongside her husband, Elisa is the proprietor and co-founder of the New York Metropolis-based restaurant and café, Maman. Now a staple of the town’s eating scene, Maman is synonymous with not solely good, considerate meals but in addition the consolation we should always expertise at every meal.

Every of Maman’s areas throughout the east coast boast interiors that nod to the country magnificence of French décor. Brick is left uncovered, the seating is humble, and mismatched—however splendidly coordinated classic vessels maintain slices of quiche and heat, flaky croissants. Verdant, flourishing preparations dot each floor and even take-away espresso cups are adorned with Maman’s signature floral contact. All of it’s a nod to the wonder, concentrate on aesthetics, and emphasis on neighborhood that Elisa has delivered to mild.

And whereas different creatives goal for a definite work-life steadiness, Elisa can’t assist however carry her eye for interiors, love of florals, and culinary prowess house. Whether or not it’s a weekday night together with her husband and two younger boys or a extra formal Saturday evening gathering, it’s with a paradoxical ease and a focus to each element that Elisa weaves collectively the intimate experiences happening in her NYC loft. And she or he does all of it—baking, entertaining, helming a enterprise, being a mom and spouse—blissful to entertain no matter comes her manner.

Maman Co-founder, Elisa Marshall, on What Makes a Memorable Gathering

What informs your method to meals?

Easy, good elements and wonder shall be my first two approaches relating to meals. I’m a powerful believer that much less is extra relating to recipes and should you discover top-quality, pure elements it will possibly actually improve and even simplify your dish. One thing so simple as stunning roasted greens with contemporary herbs or crudités with some home made dips should not solely scrumptious however will be styled fantastically too! 

Presentation and the setting to me is equally as necessary. All the things tastes higher when served on a reasonably plate is my motto and delightful presentation results in a tastier meal. I like pondering outdoors of the field relating to meals presentation and serving objects in unconventional methods. Serving dessert in assorted classic wine glasses, or crudités in particular person champagne coupes—it permits me to be extra inventive working with what I’ve at house and provides a enjoyable wow second in your friends.

How did Maman come to be?

Before I opened Maman, I felt that I was doing a little bit of everything, but nothing wholeheartedly. I had a 9 to 5 job in PR and marketing, wedding planning on weekends and had a side hustle catering sweets along with interior decorating—all of which were things I loved and was so passionate about. When looking for a ‘career’ in my early 20s, nothing spoke to me as I wanted a job that encompassed everything I loved.

I wanted to create a world for myself where I could combine all my passions: food, baking, coffee, interior design, branding, events, friends, and family. There was really no job like this that I could find, so I knew I had to invent it.

Tell us about your home. What’s your favorite part of the space?

We are currently living in a beautiful artist’s loft in Soho where we have ample space for entertaining. We were fortunate to find this spot during Covid, when it was a vacant commercial space in need of some love and TLC. After some light construction and putting up some walls for bedrooms to create a more comfortable environment for our two little boys (Yves, 3 and Rêve, 1), it became the perfect spot for our family and dog (Crumpet) to run around in, for out-of-town friends and family to come stay, and of course, the best place to entertain!

We love the open concept, and I couldn’t imagine living in a space with walls ever again. We have had fun creating ‘rooms’ within the space creatively using furniture, all of which lends themselves to the ideal setup for entertaining. Upon arrival, you enter into a beautiful living room space, perfect for canapés and cocktails, followed by our dining room table, and then a fun lounge space complete with a vintage foosball table for after dinner playtime. Our industrial kitchen spans across the side wall of the home and we added in shelving and an island to make it more homey and a small dining nook for the kids as well. 

My favorite space in the home is our dining room complete with a beautiful china hutch to house some of my many entertaining pieces along with my vintage barnwood table—both of which were Facebook Marketplace finds. I also have a beautiful DIY light fixture above the table that was an old paper mache visual display from the Free People store around the corner they were getting rid of. I purchased some lighting hardware and paint and turned it into something really beautiful. It’s one of my favorite details in our home. (And it cost me under $100.) 

What does a great gathering look like for you?

The recipe is simple:  good food + good company + a beautiful setting.

Walk us through a typical day for you.

I am fortunate that no day is ever the same, so my routine is far from normal these days. But the one thing that I can (unfortunately) guarantee is my 5:30 a.m. wake up, thanks to my 1-year-old son Rêve. I created a little play nook in my bedroom so we can get a little extra time to relax, check emails, cruise Instagram and Pinterest before we start our day.

From there, it’s typically looking after both kids, getting them prepped for the day and fed, followed by getting myself ready, if there is enough time. My work morning always starts with a coffee (large Americano with a splash of milk in a pretty cup of course) and will vary from store visits to emails or meetings in our office or sometimes working from home while juggling my two kids. There is never a dull moment and my day-to-day is far from routine.

During the evenings, I try to end my day as early as I can to ensure I am able to get home and spend quality time with my boys and husband (who is also my business partner, so much of our quality time spent together is also throughout the day). We always cook together as a family and will only order out or go out about once a month.

My son loves cooking and baking and has his own cooking channel on Instagram within our Maman account called ‘Yves Saint Croissant’, where he cooks through our cookbook. So, he has had a lot of practice and has better kitchen skills than many friends I know! Not only is this fun for him, but it entices him to eat better and be more adventurous when I get him involved in the preparation. Most nights I give him tasks that are age-appropriate like plucking the cilantro leaves, washing the vegetables etc. (Though, to be honest, some nights I give him an iPad and make the quickest thing I can find!)

Following dinner, we wrap up our day with bath time, story time, and bed time, which some days goes smoothly and others take hours! When lucky, my favorite pleasure is getting into bed early once they are asleep, enjoying a glass of red wine, and browsing Pinterest for fun ideas and inspiration or online shopping, of course! 

What are products you love for the table?

When it comes to the table, I love to keep my settings full of personality and creativity. Like the food, nothing is too contrived or uptight. I love pulling pieces from all over my home to work within my tablescape’s color palette or theme and then add elements inspired by the season. Gorgeous food is a must-have, but when combined with beautiful florals and acquired eclectic treasures, it adds a new dimension of interest and can make any table Pinterest-worthy.

Vintage Dishware

We don’t all have a 12-piece setting of perfectly-matched porcelain. The secret to making your table and dinnerware not look like it was pulled together from a garage sale (even if it was!) is to find a unified theme. 

When it comes to plates, stick with a uniform color/pattern. My favorite collection at home is mismatched green-and-white florals (a nice change from my blue and white world at Maman). I’m always looking for sage green and florals. From there, it will all fall into place for a beautiful table. If you are looking to start a vintage collection of your own, start with salad plates. Using your daily white table settings with a fun mix-and-match salad plate on top is a great way to add some visual interest. My go-to, secret place for table settings (where we also buy much of our beautiful settings at Maman) is Replacements. You possibly can search by any theme and value level and have enjoyable curating a set of your individual!   

With regard to glassware and silverware I take advantage of the identical guidelines. My frequent theme with glassware is approximate measurement and etched florals, and I’ll decide up particular person items that catch the attention.

The following tips maintain will maintain your setting enjoyable, playful, and never too contrived. And most significantly, if you’re a classic lover like myself, it at all times provides me causes to buy and purchase extra issues!

Olive Oil

Nice finishings for meals is at all times one thing I’ve on my desk and can spend money on. From salts to olive oils, these small pantry necessities might help improve any dish. My present favourite is the Heritage Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Flamingo Property. The peppery brilliant style provides you a pleasant kick within the throat and it’s versatile sufficient to make use of in cooking and as a ending oil as nicely. To not point out the attractive bottle that blends in with anywhere setting. 

What’s your must-have cooking software? 

I’m presently loving my Our Place pots and pans. They are the most versatile piece in my kitchen and perfect for boiling, sautéing, frying, steaming, and so much more. They’re also really beautiful on the countertop or served directly on the table.

What are your favorite cookbooks?

(Selfishly) I love Maman: The Cookbook as it’s a compilation of all my favorite recipes including some of my passed-on family recipes that I have been keeping for generations. It is approachable for beginners along with some more complex recipes for the kitchen savvy, and it offers over 100 recipes of delicious treats both savory and sweet to take you from breakfast to dessert.

My other favorite cookbook is The Yellow Table by my pricey buddy Anna Watson Carl. All the things on this ebook is really easy and approachable and contains a few of my most scrumptious recipes and go-to weekday meals. (A must-try: salted butter pecan shortbreads.) She was a giant inspiration after I began writing my ebook and mentored me by means of the method. 

Inform us a number of issues we’ll at all times discover in your fridge.

  • Milk. My two child boys are obsessive about it and are continually going by means of jugs each day so you’ll be able to at all times discover that in our fridge. 
  • Recent herbs. All the time a staple in our house. Ideally potted, however in any other case you will discover them within the fridge drawer. They’re the simplest taste enhancer to any dish.
  • Cheese. Having a French husband, our fridge is at all times crammed with an assortment of cheeses. My youngsters are additionally obsessed and it’s the solely foolproof meals for my 1-year-old. Pasta and pizza are additionally weekday staples in our house, so it by no means goes to waste. I at all times love having additional available for sudden friends to tug collectively a fast cheeseboard if wanted.  
  • Berries. With a toddler and a child, contemporary berries are a staple in our house. I at all times attempt to pre-wash them and retailer in meals storage containers within the fridge for fast entry. 
  • Pickles. I’m an enormous fan of pickled something and undoubtedly have extra of a salty/bitter palate versus candy. These are my favourite cheats to reinforce any dish. I like additionally utilizing remaining dill pickle juice versus vinegar to make my dressings and add picked onions to every part from eggs to avocado toast. 

What scares you about entertaining?

Not being prepared in time! I at all times spend far an excessive amount of time setting the desk, cooking, styling, and getting ready the home—most of the time, trying like a scorching mess when friends arrive! My new entertaining rule I’m making an attempt to implement is to do as a lot as I can the day and evening prior and ensuring that I give myself ample time to get myself prepared first. Your friends are far more understanding and keen to return in and help you with placing the dressing on the salad and kitchen duties in preparation for dinner versus serving to you dress and placing in your mascara! 

What are your signature dishes for gatherings?

As talked about above, I at all times go for dishes that I can put together prematurely or require little prep the day of to depart extra time for the enjoyable issues like styling and setting. One in every of my favorites is our tiramisù, from Maman: The Cookbook.

This tiramisù is good for entertaining as a result of it’s tremendous easy to arrange and is finest made prematurely—it truly tastes even higher the following day. (In case you have the willpower!) It’s a enjoyable twist on the basic recipe, the place we swap the standard ladyfingers for chunks of our signature nutty chocolate chip cookies. Nevertheless, you can even use any home made or store-bought chocolate chip cookies. (If they’re significantly candy, it’s possible you’ll want to tug again on the sugar.) 

I like getting ready these in stunning stemware for that additional wow issue on the desk and utilizing clear glass as you can even see the layers!  

What recommendation would share with somebody who needs to host a gathering on a price range?

Store your property first. Who says teacups are only for tea? Cups and saucers can double as dessert or fruit bowls, whereas classic glassware and teapots supply sudden methods to serve scorching soup. Many objects you personal probably have a number of makes use of, plus you get to carry life again to these not often used, typically sentimental items. 

Florals may change into very pricey. As a substitute of a basic bouquet or contrived centerpiece, a enjoyable, impactful association can begin with issues you could have round your property. Possibly grandma’s outdated teapot that has a damaged lid, or these cute glass yogurt containers which might be too painful to toss would be the good vessels in your flowers.

My favourite vases are my assortment of varied outdated glass bottles. I take advantage of them for easy seasonal stems. This creates top, dimension, and persona—and is far more cost-effective than shopping for bouquets. Oftentimes, vegetation and herbs may make for nice tabletop decor. They are often more cost effective and may final for much longer than contemporary cuts. Having slim vases alongside the size of the desk somewhat than a few massive preparations can also be extra sensible if meals is served family-style on the desk.

Favourite query to get to know somebody?

“Inform me about your good day.” In attending to know somebody, I believe understanding what they’re enthusiastic about can say so much about them and it’s an effective way to kick off broader conversations. 

The right banquet playlist contains:

Ray LaMontagne, Otis Redding, Michael Bublé, and Taylor Swift.

Go-to centerpiece answer:

Whereas flowers and foliage are stunning to take a look at, and I at all times guarantee they’re a focus of my desk, edible centerpieces will be are as a lot about making an impression as creating an interactive expertise in your friends. Crudités, charcuterie, and cheese platters are staples of the French desk and should you add mini tartines, sandwiches, or quiches, you’ll be able to create fuller, extra eye-catching spreads which might be good for grazing.

For these with a candy tooth, flip your desserts right into a centerpiece. After hours spent within the kitchen, it’s best to relish the fantastic thing about the meals you could have ready by setting it on the desk to be admired. A ravishing cake adorned with some contemporary florals cannot solely save on centerpiece prices, however could make a good looking focus. Some easy florals or berries organized on or round any candy treats will improve them, shortly making them centerpiece-worthy.

What’s your no-stress occasion rule to dwell by? 

Throw out any guidelines you might have heard about desk decor and place settings—except you might be internet hosting the royal household or your uptight grandmother, in fact. As a substitute, have enjoyable and use your creativeness and get inventive. Repurpose an outdated basket with a ingesting glass to make a vase, combine and match your cutlery, and don’t be afraid to assume outdoors of the field relating to entertaining. Your pals usually tend to admire your home-cooked meals and artistic particulars somewhat than whether or not or not the water glasses are three inches above the knives and you’ve got a perfectly-matched 8-piece dinner set.

Dream dinner friends?

Martha Stewart, Blake Vigorous, Taylor Swift, Paul Rudd, and Michael Bublé.

Fill within the clean:

An ideal meal ought to: be loved in good firm.  

It’s not a cocktail party with out: wine!

Each prepare dinner ought to know how one can: not take themselves too significantly.

Phrases I dwell by: “I’m going to make every part round me stunning, and that shall be my life.” — Elsie De Wolf