Even if you’ve never met Justine and Pierre, there’s a good chance you’ve had a taste of what they cook up at their dinner parties. As the creative and culinary masterminds behind the famed Justine’s, the talented duo has taken their talents to the masses, serving up mouth-watering french fare at their East Austin restaurant. As long-time fans, Chelsea and I were thrilled to join Justine and Pierre in their Southeast Austin home for an intimate dinner party. The champagne was pouring, the decor was romantic, the music was just right, the menu was hearty, and the art collection was to die for. Keep reading for all the delicious details…
Your current favorite color palette for parties:
Pierre: Moroccan tones that capture the Marrakesh sky, the ancient markets and rich saffron.
Justine: Deep red, like the center of a rose.
Our worried, thinking-too-much man (the sculpture) was purchased at a favorite — now lost — store in Austin called HOWL.
The Bernard Buffet owl (a lithograph), was a find from the flea market in Paris.
And my favorite! A 1980’s portrait of my best friend’s sister by famed rock n’ roll photographer, Mick Rock.
Portrait of Justine and her son taken by Lumiere Tintype Photography and Portraiture, an Austin-based tintype photobooth.
How you met:
At Chez Nous in Austin — I was on a road trip from California to NYC and stopped in for dinner. The rest is history…
What brought you to Austin:
After falling madly in love, I refused to live in Austin, so I gave Pierre the choice of New York, Paris or LA. He chose Paris, but after trying to live there for two difficult years and being discouraged by the bureaucracy involved in opening a place there, suddenly Austin seemed right.
Your standard hosting outfit:
Justine: Red lipstick! Black dress.
Pierre: Black mixed with pieces from other countries, like Indian Jewelry or a Middle Eastern scarf.
Pictured behind Justine is a panel from her collection of 12-feet-tall 17th century doors, which came from a chateau in France. Purchased from an antique dealer in San Antonio, Justine has big plans for the panels to be used in their next restaurant project.
Justine’s table was set with mix-and-match dinner and salad plates, collected from flea markets (in both Austin and Paris) and Uncommon Objects. Even when she’s not searching for vintage china, Justine often visits Uncommon Objects for party inspiration.
Your favorite flower:
Red roses! Also calla lilies and tulips.
Pictured is Justine and Pierre’s dining room farm table. Soon they’ll purchase one big enough to accommodate their large dinner parties, but for now, they bring in a second one from their garden and combine the two.
The entertaining rule you never break?
Cocktails right away! This is key.
Said Pierre of his healthy wine collection, “We’re not gonna die of thirst, that’s for sure!”
Pierre’s drink of choice: Pastis, an anise-flavored liquor. It’s the most popular aperitif in France.
Pierre cooks a thoughtful dinner for the family every night. They eat together with their young boys early in the evening, then Pierre goes to the restaurant.
The taste you’re always craving:
Justine: Meat — I have fangs made for a carnivorous life.
Pierre: Very spicy things, and old school french dishes.
Always in your refrigerator:
Justine: Avocados and Champagne
Pierre: An aged Gruyere and Jaimes Spanish Village Red Salsa.
The meal you will never forget:
Justine: The French Laundry in Napa, California — unforgettable.
Pierre: Bouillabaisse cooked in the fireplace in Provence at my Grandmother’s.
Click here for the recipe for Justine and Pierre’s Poached Bosc Pears
Your signature entertaining dish:
An old-school iceberg wedge with rich blue cheese on a chilled plate with forks — perfect for hot Texas nights.
The theme of tonight’s dinner party:
As guests were arriving, champagne was paired with blinis with caviar (Beluga, Red and Sturgeon), creme fraiche and green onions. Justine sources her caviar from the market at Russian House in downtown Austin, and mother-of-pearl caviar spoons can be purchased here.
The rule: The first course starts when the caviar is finished!
What (if anything) scares you about entertaining?
Hmmm … the cops did come to my four year old’s Jungle party, which starred an amazing African band and featured a live baby kangaroo!
Mid-meal, Justine and Pierre’s talented friend Lison excused herself from the table to play cello — the most beautiful and rich dinner accompaniment.
Your typical dinner party guests:
We have a very “everybody is welcome” policy. People who might not normally be dining together: babies and grandmothers and rock stars and elementary school teachers and vaudeville dancers and accountants, the sane and insane, all lovely. I often try to limit my dinner parties to six people, but there’s no way to control that! So, the more the merrier!
Your dream dinner party guests:
Pierre: Igor Stravinsky as a drinking buddy, and Tony Gatliff
Justine: Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin, with a photo shoot for dessert
Your most memorable night of entertaining:
An orphan Thanksgiving for friends, where we closed the restaurant and re-created a bohemian-suburban living room in there, complete with TV and couch and Oriental rugs! Many of the parties we’ve thrown at Justine’s — like the anti-Valentine’s “Marquis de Sade party” and the “London is Calling punk rock Bastille Day” — are chaotically beautiful nights, jammed with friends and family, that we’ll never forget.
Your must-have entertaining tools:
A stack of records — everything from Brazilian music to Miles Davis to the Pretenders — for the turntable. Also, vintage cloth napkins and black candles.
Your perfect dinner party playlist:
On this night, Justine started the party prep with the “Rocco” pandora station, then Pierre took over and played his records.
Your entertaining style in five words or less:
Extravagance, and everybody is welcome!
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