When Royal Doulton x ED By Ellen DeGeneres asked me to Share the Love I hopped on board to do one of my favourite things, Tablescaping. Over my 25 year career I have styled hundreds of cook books, lifestyle shoots & food stories for magazines & ads and I never tire of styling a table setting. There is something so satisfying about taking the time to make the setting special & thoughtful for family & friends.
I entertain at home on a weekly basis just for fun, weeknight early dinners, long weekend lunches & special occasions and have some tips I live by:
1. Effortless food
I started cooking with my mother Dee at such a young age, maybe 2/3. As the years went by we evolved a lovely way of working together in the kitchen, it felt like a dance. She was an amazing cook that tried everything both from recipes and memory. Nowadays I mostly use recipes for inspiration then make it my own with what I have in the cupboard & fridge and what’s in season. I endeavour to cook with the seasons & shop locally, Bondi Saturday Markets are always on the itinerary when we are in Sydney. And in Byron it’s up to our family farm at Cooper’s Shoot which is a working organic market garden.
2. Mix n’ match
Over the years I have amassed a gorgeous collection of plates, flatware, glassware and vessels of all shape & sizes. I like to mix up my vintage finds with everyday ware, and ones that have been gifted to me by friends and heirlooms that have been handed down through my family. It is a nice conversation over the table with friends where they come from & the stories that unfold about family, holidays, trips & finding treasures.
3. Colour palette
I mostly entertain for 10+ people and its lovely to come up with a colour palette if it’s a special occasion or not. If you have a great base range of neutral plates you can layer them up with pattern and colour in tableware as well as your food, flowers & linen. My love of local ingredients & foraging often sets the tone for the palette – in summer it might be taking cues from the array of natural pigments in my seafood selection at the fish market paired with brightly coloured nasturtium runners or fragrant frangipanis strewn down the centre of the table or individually placed on each plate. Regardless of whether it’s a casual Sunday lunch or a birthday or holiday, it can be thoughtful & considered without taking a lot of time.
4. Spending as much time with family & friends as possible
I have learnt to prep in advance if something is time consuming and then have a mix of recipes that can be cooked in different ways that lighten the load. A mix of BBQ, slow roasted & things that can be just tossed with ease so you could spend the upmost time with friends & family and not stressed slaving over pots & pans. I always leave a couple of jobs for my guests as everyone loves to contribute to a meal & as we all know the kitchen is always the favourite spot to hang out.
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