Fall is the hardest stretch for me, always.
The transition into cold weather & the march towards shorter days & the holidays always put me breathless, not to say most of the time spinning.
And this year is no exception with the intense violence spread in the news everyday (national & international), and the transition from running 2 restaurants instead of 1...
Yet, this time around, I've never felt more energized.
Probably because more than ever, I grounded myself & went back to the essentials.
Here are my basics, and how I draw energy, whether it be in work, a run at the park or a glass of red wine..
Fall is the hardest stretch for me, always.
Upon opening Maison May 5 months ago & I decided to remove tipping from both of my establishments.
I know this is the right decision and yet it has been anything but easy so far.
Like a few major decisions I have made before, as I came to the realization of what is fair & needs to happen, now there is no turning back.
Here is, in essence, what led me to take such a giant step.
I have no perspective on this decision yet, neither do I have tangible results.
I am here to show the process & to enjoy the ride.
A summer in the 1980's: I am 10 years old.
My feet are dunked in the sand, my gaze on the horizon of the placid Gulf of Saint-Tropez. All over my fingers & my face is the smell of freshly grilled sardines, which I just devoured. I am happy: with each I got closer to the sea, merging with all elements surrounding me.
Summer 2015: Upstate NY with my boys.
Theo is covered in blueberry juice & Lucas has an impressive cream-on-top-milk-mustache. As I watch my sons, I am transported back to the beach of my childhood, grasping all at once how food not only connects people to each other, but to a place, a precise geographic pocket of where it comes from, in a very visceral way.
A couple weeks ago, the wine importer Camille Rivière & myself hosted a wine dinner at ICI (now Maison May), pouring biodynamic wines from Jura, France.
At the end of the evening, several guests commented on what a delicious, unpretentious & eye-opening experience this dinner was.
I truly enjoy introducing natural wines to people who have never before tasted these kind of wines before. It's like watching someone eating farm fresh chicken for the 1st time: Once you taste the difference, you never go back.
I had a good laugh the other day when a friend told me that some people have this super glamorous vision of my family life when it comes down to food. They envision me eating at ICI (now called Maison May Dekalb ) almost every night, with my perfectly mannered children—aren’t we French, after all?—just relaxing the night away over delicious food. On the rare nights we’re not there, I become a domestic goddess in the kitchen at home, whipping up something spectacular with ease.
This is as far as you can possibly get from our reality….
I love this dish because it is comforting, disarmingly easy to make and is best cooked the day before so when your guests arrive, you do not have anything to worry about and your kitchen is clean… And I always do a batch of garlicky sautéed collard greens on the side so I do not feel like I splurge too much...
Have your guests leave with some left over pork, perfect in a sandwich the following day: spread horseradish mayo on ciabatta & add a few pickles and serve with bitter winter greens.
My aunt “Mine” was a serious cook, in a peasant’s intuitive, self-taught way. I never saw her look at a recipe book unless she was making a dessert, and she had the genius ability to produce an amazing dish out of what anyone else would have considered an empty fridge. I have many fond memories of her cooking, but my absolute favorite dish of hers was her ratatouille.Read More
I discovered that beyond pleasure, food is actual nourishment in the deepest sense of the term: it is sustenance for your body and soul, it can drag you down or lift you up. I think, if I treat myself well, I’ll always choose the latter.Read More
I think we’d all like to think ourselves as more than just the sum of our parts. Take me, for example: you could label me as just a female entrepreneur, or a (single) mother, or a restaurateur. I’m French, I’m a New Yorker. But to me, all of those things are so deeply intertwined to make me, you can’t think about one without the other. If I’m just a female entrepreneur, I’m a bitch. Just seen as French, oh, oui, oui, we get it. A single mother first and foremost? It’s oh, poor you.
It’s taken me a long time to realize who I am as a whole, and to free myself from living solely toward others’ or my own, expectations based on any one part of who I am.
By reconnecting with my roots, and with the intrinsic way of eating that had been mine for so many years, I discovered a deeper meaning to it that not only drives how I feed myself, my children, and the community in a healthy and delicious manner—and remains at the core of each and every week when I plan meals for my family and my restaurant—but inspires a way of living and working based on the simple ritual of eating well.Read More