How I Gather

Bringing people together around a table is our greatest passion in life and we believe food is one of the most powerful tools for connection. In our series, How I Gather we go behind the scenes with our favorite foodies to see how they do it. See All

Today we’re kicking off an all-new series on – one I’ve been dreaming up for awhile, and I couldn’t be more excited to see it finally become a reality. There’s nothing I love more than sneaking a glimpse into the lives of inspiring, creative people…and with this series, we get to uncover the little entertaining secrets that make their soirées ooze style and personality. I can’t imagine a more fitting subject to kickoff our first post than Austin-based design-duo Jennifer Elsner & David Shields. Click through the images (shot by Chelsea Fullerton) for all the inspiring details!

Stepping into the Elsner-Shield’s airy, East Austin home instantly makes you want to kick back and settle in a while. Open and uncluttered, it’s filled with meaningful objects that hint at the cool-without-being-hipster taste of these Brooklyn transplants. When hosting get-togethers for friends, they keep things low-key, focusing on a few key details that are as perfectly executed as their modern, thoughtful design work. No matter the time of day, a cold bottle of Lilet, red or white, is always pulled out when guests arrive – putting everyone in an instantly celebratory state-of-mind.

Owners of Viewers Like You (a creative direction, brand development and graphic design agency), this couple’s flawless eye reveals itself in every aspect of their charming East Austin home, from the chic glassware on the countertop to the effortless way that Jennifer arranges a perfect cheese board.

“We discovered the Cricket Ball Apertif at The Red Cat in NYC years ago. It’s perfect: Lilet Rouge, demi-sec Champagne, bitters and lemon.” -Jennifer

Click here to get the recipe for Jennifer and David’s Cricket Ball Aperitif

“My standard hostess outfit? There’s nothing standard about an outfit choice. But when at home, even with guests, I go with pedicured bare feet.” -Jennifer

One place where this sympatico couple diverges is their approach to cookbooks. Jennifer believes recipes are to be used only as a guide, while David tends to follow them to the letter. Their impressive collection of modern classics includes several tomes by Mark Bittman and Marcella Hazan – their go-to sources for the perfect dinner party dishes.

Each year at the holidays, David designs, types and binds the previous year’s collection of “The Minimalist” columns by Mark Bittman for the New York Times, gifting them to Jennifer as one-of-a-kind cookbooks to add to their shelves.

The collection of colorful Mexican produce cans add vibrancy to an upper kitchen shelf.

Must-have entertaining tools: Topo Chicos and a tidy medicine cabinet. There’s always a big bunch of spinach in the fridge for daily green smoothies and juices.

“The restaurant meal I’ll never forget? Oh there are too, too many to recount. Most recently was a casual family lunch at Gjelina in Venice Beach. Tuscan Kale Salad and a perfectly baked Pomodoro Pizza paired perfectly with the pace of our SoCal holiday – and a bold Barolo.” -Jennifer

Jennifer & David’s perfect cheese plate:

  • Triple-Cream – Langres (France)
  • Sheep – Mona (Wisconsin)
  • Goat – Sainte Maure Pure Luck (Texas)
  • Iberian Ham
  • Marcona Almonds
  • Country Paté
  • Quince Paste
  • Baguette

Jennifer’s Party Playlist

Seven Angels On a Bicycle – Carrie Rodriguez
Free Until They Cut Me Down – Iron & Wine
Raphael – Carla Bruni
I’d Like to – Corinne Bailey Rae
Blues Music – G. Love & Special Sauce
Breakin’ Down – Ben Harper
I Don’t Wanna Know – Fleetwood Mac
The Look – Metronomy
You’re So Cool – True Romance Soundtrack
Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard – Paul Simon

Click here to listen to the entire mix online!

Dream guest list: “Six is my ideal count for a dinner party. There’s David and me, a couple we already adore and a new duo—to mix things up. If time and space weren’t an issue, Maira & Tibor Kalman would be that wild card. Since that’s not possible, maybe Ellen Degeneres & Portia DiRossi?”  -Jennifer

Head over to Go Forth Creative to view more of Chelsea’s work.

Share this Post