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

How I Collect

Bringing individuals collectively round a desk is our biggest ardour in life and we consider meals is without doubt one of 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 very best 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 additionally the consolation we must always expertise at every meal.

Every of Maman’s places 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, deal with aesthetics, and emphasis on neighborhood that Elisa has dropped at mild.

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

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

What informs your strategy to meals?

Easy, good elements and wonder shall be my first two approaches relating to meals. I’m a robust believer that much less is extra relating to recipes and for those who discover top-quality, pure elements it could actually improve and even simplify your dish. One thing so simple as stunning roasted greens with recent herbs or crudités with some selfmade dips aren’t solely scrumptious however might be styled superbly too! 

Presentation and the setting to me is equally as necessary. All the pieces tastes higher when served on a fairly plate is my motto and exquisite presentation results in a tastier meal. I really like pondering outdoors of the field relating to meals presentation and serving gadgets in unconventional methods. Serving dessert in assorted classic wine glasses, or crudités in particular person champagne coupes—it permits me to be extra artistic working with what I’ve at dwelling 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’ll be able to search by any theme and value level and have enjoyable curating a group of your personal!   

With regard to glassware and silverware I exploit the identical guidelines. My frequent theme with glassware is approximate dimension and etched florals, and I’ll choose up particular person items that catch the attention.

The following pointers hold will hold your setting enjoyable, playful, and never too contrived. And most significantly, in case you are 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 may also help improve any dish. My present favourite is the Heritage Extra Virgin Olive Oil from Flamingo Property. The peppery vibrant 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 properly. To not point out the attractive bottle that blends in with anywhere setting. 

What’s your must-have cooking software? 

I’m at the moment 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 pieces on this ebook is very easy and approachable and consists of a few of my most scrumptious recipes and go-to weekday meals. (A must-try: salted butter pecan shortbreads.) She was an enormous inspiration once I began writing my ebook and mentored me by way 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 way of jugs every day so you possibly can at all times discover that in our fridge. 
  • Recent herbs. All the time a staple in our dwelling. Ideally potted, however in any other case you’ll find 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 stuffed with an assortment of cheeses. My kids are additionally obsessed and it’s the solely foolproof meals for my 1-year-old. Pasta and pizza are additionally weekday staples in our dwelling, so it by no means goes to waste. I at all times love having additional readily available for surprising friends to tug collectively a fast cheeseboard if wanted.  
  • Berries. With a toddler and a child, recent berries are a staple in our dwelling. 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 positively have extra of a salty/bitter palate versus candy. These are my favourite cheats to reinforce any dish. I really like additionally utilizing remaining dill pickle juice versus vinegar to make my dressings and add picked onions to the whole lot 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 making ready the home—most of the time, trying like a sizzling 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 night time prior and ensuring that I give myself ample time to get myself prepared first. Your friends are rather more understanding and prepared 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 all my favorites is our tiramisù, from Maman: The Cookbook.

This tiramisù is right for entertaining as a result of it’s tremendous easy to organize and is greatest made prematurely—it truly tastes even higher the following day. (In case you have the willpower!) It’s a enjoyable twist on the traditional recipe, the place we swap the normal ladyfingers for chunks of our signature nutty chocolate chip cookies. Nonetheless, it’s also possible to use any selfmade or store-bought chocolate chip cookies. (If they’re notably candy, you could want to tug again on the sugar.) 

I really like making ready these in stunning stemware for that additional wow issue on the desk and utilizing clear glass as it’s also possible to see the layers!  

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

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

Florals can even turn into very expensive. As an alternative of a traditional bouquet or contrived centerpiece, a enjoyable, impactful association can begin with issues you may have round your house. Possibly grandma’s previous teapot that has a damaged lid, or these cute glass yogurt containers which can be too painful to toss would be the good vessels in your flowers.

My favourite vases are my assortment of varied previous glass bottles. I exploit them for easy seasonal stems. This creates top, dimension, and character—and is rather more cost-effective than shopping for bouquets. Oftentimes, vegetation and herbs can even make for excellent tabletop decor. They are often cheaper and might final for much longer than recent cuts. Having slim vases alongside the size of the desk moderately than a few giant 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 feel realizing what they’re obsessed with can say lots about them and it’s a good way to kick off broader conversations. 

The proper banquet playlist consists of:

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

Go-to centerpiece answer:

Whereas flowers and foliage are stunning to have a look at, and I at all times guarantee they’re a focus of my desk, edible centerpieces might 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 for those who add mini tartines, sandwiches, or quiches, you possibly can create fuller, extra eye-catching spreads which can be good for grazing.

For these with a candy tooth, flip your desserts right into a centerpiece. After hours spent within the kitchen, you must relish the great thing about the meals you may have ready by setting it on the desk to be admired. An exquisite cake adorned with some recent florals can’t solely save on centerpiece prices, however could make a stupendous point of interest. Some easy florals or berries organized on or round any candy treats will improve them, rapidly making them centerpiece-worthy.

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

Throw out any guidelines you’ll have heard about desk decor and place settings—except you might be internet hosting the royal household or your uptight grandmother, in fact. As an alternative, have enjoyable and use your creativeness and get artistic. Repurpose an previous basket with a consuming glass to make a vase, combine and match your cutlery, and don’t be afraid to suppose outdoors of the field relating to entertaining. Your mates usually tend to admire your home-cooked meals and inventive particulars moderately 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 the right way to: not take themselves too significantly.

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