Entertaining with :: Natasha Esch

By Camille Styles

You know how sometimes, you hear someone’s name pop up multiple times within the span of a week and you wonder if it might be some kind of sign? Over the last few months, Natasha Esch (and her inimitable Hampton’s store MONC XIII) have quite literally been everywhere – from Goop to Lonny to Vanity Fair – and I’d say that the results of our interview and photo shoot prove the connection was quite serendipitous. As a “lover of finely tuned curation,” Natasha dreamed of opening a store that would combine her love of old and new, traditional meets modern. MONC XIII’s vintage pieces are arranged in the space just like a beautifully-designed home, inspiring everyone who enters its doors with a uniquely curated and totally unexpected mix that has east coast style setters flocking. I asked the woman behind this style mecca if she’d spill the details on how she entertains at home and let us in on her best tips for setting the table… just in time for our own holiday gatherings! Click through for all the pretty details shot by Belathée Photography.

My entertaining style in 5 words or less:

Casual and atmospheric, but planned and prepared.

The entertaining rule I rarely break:

I never cook for more than 16 people. I’ll call a caterer if I host a larger gathering!

This first table setting is summer inspired. The idea here was to evoke summer with the color blue and the Chaine D’Ancre pattern from Hermes, Bleus D’ailleurs and Bernardaud Ecume White china. Ecume provides the texture and the other two provide pattern along with our beautiful MONC XIII linens in blue and white.

Always in my fridge:

A large selection of fresh herbs, Greek yogurt, fresh OJ, Pellegrino, my homemade jam of the week, fresh mozzarella, Dijon mustard, smoked salmon, eggs.

Natasha’s Table Setting Tip #1 Never use centerpieces that obstruct eye level — this goes for candles as well. Keep things low and never use scented candles on a table with food… it interferes with the palate!

My standard hostess outfit:
Whatever I am wearing that day.  I might add heels right before dinner is served!

Current favorite color palette for parties:

In summer, white and blue. In fall and winter, a moodier and natural palette with some black, white and burlap elements.

Natasha’s Table Setting Tip #2 Incorporate the season. Use seasonal centerpieces or elements like branches in fall or spring and summer flowers in summer. In winter use spices, and rich elements.

What scares you about entertaining?

Guests bringing an unexpected entourage of friends. It’s why I always prepare extra food; but it really helps to be specific when you send invites to give a more accurate number!

Cocktail of choice?

While I have a pretty full bar available for guests, I prefer champagne or wine for festive gatherings.

The restaurant meal I’ll never forget:
Gosh, there are many.  I love food so I am always trying new places both in NY and on my travels.  I recently went to this amazing restaurant called Estela, which was outrageously good.  Marlow and Sons in Brooklyn was a terrific meal as well.  Fresh pesto pasta at the Splendido de Mare in Portofino, Italy. And also, Mediterranean sea bass in Salt Crust at Angelini Osteria in Los Angeles.

Natasha’s Table Setting Tip #2 Contrast textures. If the china is slick, use earthy textured napkins. Try to represent varying textures on the table to create layers.

The perfect dinner party playlist includes:
I love Pandora as I can put in an artist or song, and voila! The rest is done for me! What I choose depends on the mood I want to create. In fall, I like ambient chill music or great vocalists like Kate Bush; whereas in the summer, it might be groovy bossa nova, lazy jazz for a pool lunch, or reggae for an upbeat cocktail and grill party. Some artists and songs I am curently obsessed with are Daft Punk, Moby’s new song “A Case for Shame”, Air, and Zero 7.

The taste I’m always craving:

Fresh seasonal food and a great soup. I’m currently into Lentil with Polish sausage.

Natasha’s Table Setting Tip #4 Stick to one color for the table as an accent. I always feel that the food needs to shine, so too many colors just become a jumble. One color is much more powerful that many that dilute each other.

My dream dinner guests:
My good friends who make me laugh and know how to have a good time. For inspiration, Andree Putnam and Gio Ponti would be great, as well as Francois Cattroux.


My signature entertaining dish:

Anything slow cooked works for me in my hostess hat. My turkey chili is popular among regular guests.

Natasha’s Table Setting Tip #5 Add some shine and sparkle. Whether it’s vintage cocktail cups or gold rimmed glasses, a holiday table needs sparkle to invoke festiveness.

My must-have entertaining tool:

Candles. Candlelight is like the ancestor of Instagram – a perfect filter and everyone looks amazing.

I also set a more transitional fall table by keeping the colors light and neutral but not white as we did in the summer. I also infused natural leather coasters and pops of red with Frederic Malle candles and steak knives by Berti in red. The idea was to warm things up for fall with red and to introduce earthy textures and colors to depart from the crisp whiteness of summer.

Lastly, we transitioned into deep fall by setting a table story of just black and white. This table was earthy and very textural with the beautiful ceramics of French CeramicistGilles Caffier, hand poured candles by Celine Cannon, sheepskin furs on the chairs, and again, a mixture of Hermes Rallye 24 in black, and Bernardaud digital in white. Additionally we used rosewood puiforcat steak knives and Deborah Ehrlich wine and water glasses.

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