In the Kitchen with Kris
1. HAUTE TABLE
SETTING THE TABLE AND THE TONE
One of the things I enjoy most about entertaining and cooking for my family is the joy I get from the table setting. You’d be surprised how very little effort can make a big difference in creating an amazing dining experience. Cooking for someone is such an expression of love, and so is the presentation. I know my family gets extremely excited when we celebrate a huge occasion or just get together for our Sunday dinners because they know how much love and energy I put into making it beautiful for them. I also love going to other people’s homes for dinner because I always get entertaining inspiration and creative ideas from my friends.
Almost as important as the food is the table setting. I believe that cooking for someone is one of the best things you can do. It’s a way of expressing how much you care about the people you love. I also believe that the table setting is an extension of that love. The amount of time you put into making sure things are beautiful, that your table makes a statement, or creates a mood, also says, “I love you!”
I am notorious for my table settings and my dishes. If I’m cooking an Italian meal, I will grab my red Hermès china to go with the red sauce (Fusilli with Tomato Basil Sauce
I have five different kinds of Christmas dishes. I have nutcrackers, Santas, reindeer, and snowmen. If you can think of anything Christmas-y that can go on a table, I have it and have used it over the years.
I collect china and dishes. My children all know how obsessed I am with table settings and I’ve received several sets of Hermès dishes from my daughters. Table settings. Napkins and napkin rings. Baccarat crystal glasses and vases. Candles and candle holders. I’m obsessed with it all.
When I got married, nesting and creating this visual ambiance was so important to me. I somehow understood that it would be important to tying my family all together.
And over the years, it has. My children—and our family and extended family and friends—have come to expect a certain look and feel when they come over to share a meal. It’s never “simple” or “normal.”
For Rob’s most recent birthday, I had a St. Patrick’s Day theme because it fell on St. Paddy’s Day. I had the table decorated with shamrocks and gold coins and green beads. It was over-the-top and tasteful at the same time. And he absolutely enjoyed it. Kim’s birthday always falls around Halloween. When she was little, I would have a Halloween theme with pumpkin baskets, candy, and a pumpkin-themed cake. I would go the whole nine yards. (Some of my favorite pumpkin recipes in this book are inspired by Kim and her birthday.)
For holidays I go all out. I will set the table for Thanksgiving four days in advance. It takes me that long to get it just right, layering the different decorations, adding and taking things away until I can stand back and say, “Yes, that’s it.”
Some people paint, others make music and dance, I make table settings. That’s my way of expressing my artistic and creative side.
And I love to see the smiles on the faces of my children and guests when they see what I’ve done. The key is to have fun with it. As long as it’s done in the spirit of love, you are sure to make it beautiful.