How Our Two Favorite Ceramicists do Brunch

By Carmen Collins
the best brunch ever!

Almost every surface in Samantha Heligman and Eliana Bernard’s Austin home is covered with their ceramic creations — vases, trays, plates, drink ware — you name it, they’ve made it. I met up with the studio mates turned roommates for brunch, and the girls traded in their ceramic tools for kitchen tools as they whipped up the ultimate breakfast spread. Eliana served up mimosas in cups from her new candy marble collection, while Samantha baked a homemade quiche in a dish from her speckle collection. Keep reading to see even more of their handmade pieces and get the girls’ recipe for chicken and waffles that includes an unexpected ingredient!

photography by Kristen Kilpatrick

What’s the one entertaining rule you rarely break?

Eliana Bernard: Drinks and appetizers while guests are arriving.

Samantha Heligman: Always making sure that everyone who walks through my door is taken care of in the food department. I’m working my way up to Southern grandmother status. One day you’ll walk through my door and I’ll say, “Hey there, sweetheart. Come here and hug my neck. Can I get you a biscuit?”

What’s your must-have entertaining tool?

EB: Flowers. They add the perfect touch of greenery to the space and I love decorating the table with a few bud vases.

SH: Good background tunes, like Valerie June or Elvis! I feel that a party will thrive with the right musical vibe.

Where did you learn to cook?

EB: I spent a lot of time in the kitchen watching my mom cook when I was younger, and once I was old enough, I started cooking my own meals. I loved watching all of the cooking shows growing up and baking sweets on the weekends with my sisters. Now as an adult, I prefer to make home cooked meals instead of going out to eat.

SH: I am mostly self-taught. I grew up watching Food Network and longing to cook the way the chefs did. I have had a subscription to Bon Appetite since high school. I love food and I love seeing people eat my food and smile.

Your signature dish for parties?

EB: Dessert! My go-to is cheesecake with a homemade strawberry glaze.

SH: That varies from month to month. When we are cooking on the grill, I love doing chicken fajitas with charred peppers and all the trimmings. I love making roasts and stews in the winter time to warm up. In the spring, making fresh pickles for salads and sides is a favorite.

What scares you about entertaining?

EB: I’m always worried about running out of things, like food and drinks — which never happens, but it’s always a fear of mine!

SH: That the folks won’t like the food I serve.

Get the recipe for Samantha’s sun dried tomato, spinach, & feta quiche here!

What is your signature cocktail?

EB: Mimosa. I love making them with watermelon juice and fresh fruit.

SH: I go for a simple Tito’s and water with lemon. It’s refreshing and light!

Favorite tabletop item you own?

EB: I love using my marbled serving tray to serve drinks or dessert. It’s my favorite item in the collection right now and it’s perfect for dinner parties.

SH: I love all my different serving spoons. I kind of have an obsession with collecting antique serving spoons! That and they look so nice with the serving bowls and dinnerware I make.

Do you reference any family traditions when you entertain?

EB: Dancing. Every time my family gets together you can usually find us dancing in the kitchen before and after dinner!

SH: Always try and have a fire in the fire pit if the weather allows.

What’s your go-to source for recipes?

EB: I use Food52 when I’m looking up recipes and then I’ll usually pull from 2-3 of the same recipes and use certain parts to make it my own.

SH: I have a collection of cookbooks that I have accumulated over the years from family and friends. I love looking recipes up on Pinterest, and then there’s Bon Appetite of course.

What’s always in your refrigerator?

EB: Something spicy, like homemade salsa or a jalapeño.

SH: Cheese and condiments of all sorts, from pickles to Hoison sauce.

The taste you’re always craving?

EB: Chocolate. I have a sweet tooth!

SH: Anything Asian, from Pho to Bulgoogi. I am a happy person when I smell the scent of rice vinegar and soy mixing together!

Get the recipe for Eliana and Samantha’s chicken and waffles here!

Current favorite color palette for parties?

EB: Warm summer colors with hints of gold.

SH: Matte white and royal blue.

The perfect dinner party playlist includes:

EB: Spanish music, salsa, a little Enrique Iglesias, a little bit of Kanye and Drake, and some oldies. I like to have a mix of everything to keep it fun!

SH: Valerie June, Elvis, Ryan Adams, and Johnny Cash Radio.

The restaurant meal you’ll never forget:

EB: I went to Barbuto when I was in New York back in February and it was delicious! I ate everything that was sent out and the kale salad was to-die-for!

SH: I took my Dad to Elizabeth Street Cafe for dinner. He had yet to see my dinnerware in action at a restaurant. It was a moment of great pride and lots of flavors, because their Beef Carpaccio is amazing!

Who are your dream dinner guests?

EB: From the past, Frida Kahlo, and from the present, my favorite author Paulo Coelho.

SH: Anthony Bourdain, I feel like he would be really fun to drink with.

What’s your standard hostess outfit?

EB: Anything with a floral print.

SH: A flowy sundress.

It’s not a party without __________.

EB: Dancing.

SH: Butter and pickles.

Your entertaining style in 5 words or less:

EB: Colorful, fun, and easy-going.

SH: Vibrant, delicious, home-cooked, colorful, warm, and fuzzy.