No fall dinner party is not complete without a beautiful bountiful tablescape or, of course, a warmth-inducing food menu. And now that Thanksgiving around the corner is upon us—and plenty of Friendsgivings are under way—we can certainly use any tip or trick we can get to achieve both, plus ensure a seamless and stress-free evening as we head into the holidays and prime hosting season.
Julia Sherman, artist, cook, and author behind Salad for President looks to her Great Jones Dutchess Oven for cooking her seasonal braised meat dish or vegetarian tagine. Meanwhile, Hannah Cheng and Marian Cheng, the sister duo behind Mimi Cheng's, emphasize the importance of setting a beautiful table equipped with fresh florals and complementary candles. Esther Choi, the chef and restaurateur behind Mokbar and Ms. Yoo in New York City shares how a delectable cheese board is non-negotiable when it comes to autumnal entertaining (and can act as a centerpiece, too).
Below, four chefs share their simple approaches to hosting an unforgettable fall dinner party.
Julia Sherman, Salad for President
When the leaves begin to turn, that's when I start braising. For dinner parties, I often make fish or vegetarian tagine, or a big braised meat entrée in my Great Jones Dutchess oven. Vintage ceramic tagines and the pretty enamel Dutch ovens are workhorses in the oven that double as centerpieces on the table. I am a real sucker for beeswax, and I always buy the molded candles at the honey producer's stand at the farmers market. My favorites are in the shape of corn cobs or carved eggs from Tremblay Apiary in Union Square. For dessert, I've taken to simply offering a few bars of Dandelion single origin chocolate. I let my guests unwrap the hand foiled bars and read the flavor notes on the labels. Each of their bars are from a different part of the world, and their characters are so distinct, it inevitably becomes a conversation piece. I round the evening out with a nightcap, or, even better, a pot of Mariage Frères tea.
$145.00, GREAT JONES
$9.00, DANDELION CHOCOLATE
$32.00, NEIMAN MARCUS
Hannah Cheng and Marian Cheng, Mimi Cheng's
It’s very easy to set a beautiful table that makes dinner feel like a special occasion. We like to set the ambience with seasonal flowers and fragrant greenery, especially fresh eucalyptus from Union Square's farmers market. Tapered candles add a very dramatic and elegant flair, and we love the beeswax ones from Blue Hill Stone Barns. We are big fans of cloth napkins. It feels more civilized and it’s better for the environment. To encourage our guests to feel at home, we like to create edible table decor like fresh citrus, whole nuts, bread, and olives so people can casually nibble for a more relaxed vibe.
$14.00, BLUE HILL MARKET
$70.00, URBAN STEMS
$80.00, URBAN STEMS
$75.00, THE INSIDE
Esther Choi, Mokbar & Ms. Yoo
It's not fall unless I’m serving something inside a pumpkin. I gravitate toward recipes that use the actual ingredient as a vehicle of serving, ie using spaghetti squash as a “pasta” and serving it in the squash itself, or plating a roasted pumpkin soup inside an acorn squash bowl, or steamed rice in a kabocha squash. I like to keep things on theme with the color scheme, and do a beautiful tablescape to match, using items that remind me of fall, like mini pumpkins and gourds, or branches and leaves that you may be able to find at a local farmers market or even in your backyard. Use what inspires you from nature! Wooden boards are beautiful in the fall and would be a great centerpiece for serving a nice cheese board, or simple snacks. My favorite is always the Boos board, but also brands such as Teakhaus and Catskills Craftsmen are great sustainable options.
$20.00, SUR LA TABLE
$104.00, WILLIAMS SONOMOA
Originally Appeared on Vogue