concept and design by brita olsen creative • photographed by rob gullixson • vintage rentals from octavia & brown • cupcakes by lael cake
There are so many things we love about Easter — sweet memories of egg hunts, children in adorable outfits, and the promise of spring. But when it comes to holidays with traditional decor, Easter can be a tricky one: too much pastel (like too much processed candy) tends to leave us feeling sick. We called up one of NYC’s top event planners, Brita Olsen, to create a fresh and modern tabletop for our old favorite Sunday in spring. We’re pretty much obsessed with what she created — a fennel grapefruit cocktail, asparagus gruyere fritatta, and carrot quinoa salad, oh my! With magenta tulips, a health-conscious menu (that’s still delicious), and a few subtle nods to the bunny himself, Brita proves that Easter brunch is still cool after all these years.
“A lot of my friends have gone gluten-free and are trying to eat healthier,” explains Brita. “I wanted to come up with a brunch concept where you don’t even notice you are eating healthy because the foods are still delicious and indulgent.”
For this modern take on a classic Easter brunch, Brita wanted to create a fresh cocktail with grassy notes:
“I love fennel and am always looking for ways to incorporate it so I had the idea to mix fennel juice with grapefruit for a cocktail that isn’t too sweet but light and refreshing,” says Brita.
see Brita’s Fennel Grapefruit Cocktail recipe here
We’ve been so used to seeing the most iconic springtime flower abused in cheesy arrangements that we fell head over heels for Brita’s simple and sculptural arrangement. Magenta tulips were the perfectly unexpected way to tie in a traditional Easter element while providing a bright pop of color for her modern tabletop!
Brita found little radishes at a local farmers market to use as a fun decorative element on the table. “I thought the color was so incredible and that they would make a nice accent on each setting,” she says. “And I liked the idea of giving a nod to “bunny food”!”
“I love the idea of nixing that traditional pastel-y Easter palette in favor of more saturated tones,” says Brita. “I have a lot of jadeite pieces and I thought that mint color would mix well with cobalt blue and some magenta accents.”
Brita loves serving a fritatta for brunch because they’re easy to prep and can feed a crowd. She developed this Asparagus Gruyere Fritatta recipe using some of her favorite ingredients:
“It’s an easy thing I can throw together at the last minute. Asparagus is nice because you don’t need to spend all morning dicing — you can just toss it in and it looks so pretty. And gruyere cheese makes anything yummy!”
see Brita’s Asparagus Gruyere Fritatta recipe here
“Quinoa salad is my go to buffet item,” explains Brita. “It’s a good thing to round out any menu because it’s gluten free but still fills you up. Plus, you can make it ahead of time and not worry about anything wilting too much. This one that I made up is pretty simple — and the carrots are another subtle nod to bunny food!”
see Brita’s Carrot Quinoa Salad recipe here
Emily Lael Aumiller from Lael Cakes contributed the chocolate raspberry cupcake for Brita’s Easter brunch.
“Everything she does is gluten free and so beautiful,” gushes Brita. “I told her I wanted something with a saturated purple to it to go with the color palette, and so she made this beautiful frosting with fresh raspberry puree. No food coloring necessary!”
Brita procured the blue china from one of her best party planning secrets: vintage rentals from Octavia & Brown.
“They have such a great selection of vintage tableware and I loved the way the modern blue plates looked with the delicate china,” she says. “When it comes to mixing, first determine a color palette and then start layering patterns to see what you like. You can always brighten things up with a colorful napkin or menu to complete the look.”
When asked what she loves about her career as an event planner, Brita is all enthusiasm:
“I throw parties for a living! I think there’s something wonderful about getting people together for good food and conversation… Every bride that calls me to design her wedding is so open to reinventing the idea of a traditional color palette,”
“Plus,” she confesses, “I love setting the table — I even make little tablescapes when I’m having eggs in the morning.” A girl by our own heart.
Brita Olsen is a New York based event planner and the recent founder of Filigree Suppers, a supper club focused on American made home goods that pops up monthly in Chicago and NYC.
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