inspiration2022/12/08

The Art & Joys Of Entertaining With Héloïse Brion

by Wolf & Badger

W&B fan and friend Héloïse Brion, is the founder of one of our favorite lifestyle and cooking platforms, Miss Maggie’s Kitchen. Read on to hear all about it and stay till the end for a special winter pasta recipe brimming with hazelnuts!

In tough times such as ours, Héloïse Brion’s ‘l’arte de vivre’ – the French art of good living – offers much-needed solace. Effortlessly chic, she worked in fashion for 15 years – with Calvin Klein, Roger Vivier and Ines de La Fressange – before pursuing her passion for cooking. She loves serving simple, family-style dishes made with regional, market-fresh produce inspired by her travels and the joy of entertaining. Her much-awaited second book My Art of Entertaining: Recipes & Tips expands her repertoire of seasonal comfort food and shares myriad ideas for creating memorable meals right down to beautiful tablescapes and hosting and planning tips. We sit down for a Q&A to discover what she loves most about working in the culinary industry and her approach to entertaining.

What is Miss Maggie’s Kitchen?

Miss Maggie’s Kitchen is the project I launched 5 years ago. It is my way to express my love for food, for people, for travel and for beautiful tablescapes and decor. 

What does your day-to-day work look like?

Each day is a new adventure! Some days I test and write recipes, some are photo and video shoot days for clients, the website or À Table (content for our member subscription space), and some days I work on product design and development for parsley (the art de vivre collection I launched a few months ago). On other days I am at my little shop in Pont l’Évêque or at the restaurant Bleu Coupole at the Printemps Haussmann. Each activity feeds me creatively for the others.

What do you love about working in the culinary industry? How has cooking impacted your life?

Food brings people together around the globe. We need food to nourish our bodies and souls. All over the world, people gather to share a meal, they share food, their days, their emotions and ideas. It seals friendships and relationships and creates memories. I find that cooking also helps me find my centre. It is my meditation time. I also love how it triggers my creativity – playing with associations of products, spices, herbs… It is all very positive and attracts happiness!

You’ve just released your second book, My Art of Entertaining, which centres around your relaxed, family-first approach to entertaining. Tell us about it!

To me what is on the plate is just as important as what is around the plate… So, the food and table décor go hand in hand to create a unique “voyage”. I love creating tablescapes with things I find in nature (branches, flowers, shells…)  and revisiting pieces to transform and reuse them. The first thing that your family or guests will discover come meal time is the table setting, then they will smell the delicious meal, touch the tablecloth, hear the music and laughter, and then taste the meal. A meal will put all of our senses to work and that is how meals become memorable. I wanted to share some of my top tips to create these atmospheres, following the seasons, as I find that entertaining can be stressful to some people. I wanted to help them fully enjoy these moments and enjoy time with their guests. 

What advice would you give to someone wanting to embrace local, seasonal cooking at home?

The best advice is to go to the farmer’s market once or twice a week. Find local artisans who make delicious vinegars, breads etc. You will be sure to buy local and seasonal products this way.

You’re known for creating tablescapes that combine vintage crockery and glassware with the natural world. Where do you find inspiration for new ideas?

I love to mix and match and I love pieces that have a story. I find inspiration during travels – it could be the colors of the ocean or in a forest, or at local village flea markets… I also love to include seasonal products and flowers. Nature holds a very big space inspiration-wise for me!

What’s next for you in 2022?

The Printemps Haussmann has asked me to create the menu of the restaurant Bleu Coupole for the next 6 months. It is very exciting to see the recipes I imagined in my kitchen, served in a restaurant! I was also able to create a parsley pop-up shop there, so it is all very exciting! I am also working on the launch of a podcast, so stay tuned! 

What do you love about Wolf & Badger?

I love the richness of the styles offered and the fact that we can see the sustainability status of the brands and products. I also find it incredible to find everything you can imagine on one website!

Héloïse Brion’s new book My Art of Entertaining: Recipes and Tips from Miss Maggie’s Kitchen is out now with Flammarion. Here is her delicious Orecchiette with Hazelnuts and Sage recipe , perfect for warming up winter nights:

Serves 4

Active Time: 10 minutes

Infusing Time: 15–20 minutes

Cooking Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients

3 tbsp (1¾ oz./50 g) unsalted butter

About 10 sage leaves

10½ oz. (300 g) orecchiette

⅓ cup (2 oz./60 g) toasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped

Parmesan or Pecorino, freshly grated

Fleur de sel

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Heat the butter with the sage leaves in a saucepan over low heat, until the butter melts. Let infuse over very low heat for 15–20 minutes.
  1. Cook the orecchiette in a large pan of boiling salted water for about 10 minutes, or for 1 or 2 minutes less than the time indicated on the package.
  1. Drain the pasta and toss it with the melted butter and sage leaves to coat.
  1. Transfer the pasta to a serving bowl. Sprinkle over the hazelnuts and grate the cheese over the top according to personal taste. Season with pepper and serve immediately. You can swap out the hazelnuts for other nuts of your choice: pecans, cashews, almonds, or a mix of different nuts

Photography © Christophe Roué 2022.

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