“Our Most Beautiful Festive Tables “, with <br> Jennifer Hart-Smith

“Our Most Beautiful Festive Tables “, with
Jennifer Hart-Smith

Jennifer Hart-Smith’s approach to patisserie is very different from those we have previously come across. Or perhaps it is just an approach that goes much further, and that pushes the boundaries in the use of plants. A revelation for this Franco-Australian, who began her cookery career with Tookies, a brand of shortcake biscuits that can be personalised. She tells us that right from the start, she was intrigued by the idea of replacing one sort of flour by another, and by including more healthy ingredients into her recipes. This desire came to fulfilment when she gained a diploma in naturopathy, which ever since has become a byword for her work. Trips to Parisian parks with a plant-gatherer, journeys to the Drôme department to discover its riches of nature; Jennifer Hart-Smith continues “compulsively” to learn in the field. Up to the point where she and plants become as one. Her cakes are masterpieces which are as beautiful to behold as they are good for us to eat. Prepared with ingredients that are local and organic, they highlight the colours of the seasons, in a melody that makes them as beautiful as works of art. Just what we would dream of for our festive table! And that’s why Jennifer Hart-Smith has invited us today. For The Socialite Family, the chef has recreated her vision of more relaxed and “easy-going” festive receptions. A fruit dish in Limoges pottery inherited from her grandmother, Opinel knives, floral features… we are invited to share her universe as expressed in her new apartment.

“Our Most Beautiful Festive Tables “, with <br> Jennifer Hart-Smith
Table Salle à manger Jennifer Hart-Smith
Table Salle à manger Jennifer Hart-Smith

Jennifer, could you tell us about yourselves?

Jennifer

I am a half French and half Australian. After studying design at the École Boulle, followed by typography in San Francisco, I spent a few years in France, working for start-ups like Deezer. At the same time, I regularly worked in restaurants, both front of house and in the kitchen. It all clicked when my daughter was born. I needed to get back to my roots and be creative in a more “personal” way. I therefore took a CAP – a vocational qualification that gives a Certificate of Professional Aptitude – but within a few days I found myself wanting to switch out one kind of flour for another and include healthier ingredients in the recipe. After a few internships, training in luxury hotels, stores and restaurants, in 2014 I created Tookies: small, custom-decorated cookies. Very quickly, lots of top brands put their trust in me and have continued to place regular orders. I have also graduated with a diploma in naturopathy, which is a discipline that I have really enjoyed studying in my free time over these last three years.

Could you explain your “responsible patisserie” venture, Tookies?

Jennifer

My view has always been that, while cakes and cookies aren’t meant to be healthy, they can at least avoid being harmful to your health. They can be natural and free from refined and artificial ingredients. In other words, we use unrefined sugar and whole grain flour, with a focus on sensual pleasure that is good for your body and the planet with organic, local and seasonal ingredients.

Where do you get your passion for plants from?

Jennifer

I think it’s something I’ve always had. My grandmother has an amazing garden, covering several acres, two hours from Sydney. It has nothing but native bush plants in it. She talked to me about their names and their qualities. When I was younger I only listened to half of what she had to say. I was more intersted in my schoolmates. But I think the seed was still planted at that time. When I was pregnant with my second child, Milo, I watched people gathering in plants from Parisian parks, and others in the Drôme, and I became obsessed with learning what they were doing and copying them in the field. I had guides by François Couplan and Delachaux on my bedside table. I found it restful and thrilling at the same time. It felt like people had been keeping it from me my entire life. And, in a city like Paris that is short of green spaces, being interested in plants makes you a bit crazy. My naturopathic studies also led me to look into phytotherapy and aromatherapy. Always with that link to plants and living beings.

“Our Most Beautiful Festive Tables “, with <br> Jennifer Hart-Smith
“Our Most Beautiful Festive Tables “, with <br> Jennifer Hart-Smith
Table Salle à manger Portrait Jennifer Hart-Smith
Table Salle à manger Jennifer Hart-Smith
Table Salle à manger Jennifer Hart-Smith
Opinel Set of 4 table knives N°125 Bon Appetit South 45,00€
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The set contains 4 knives with olive wood handles. The blade guarantees premium cutting quality, while the olive wood…

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With French and Australian influences, how are you preparing for the festive season at your home?

Jennifer

It needs to be an easy going, Australian style. I love the idea of adding guests at the last minute. We have a mixture of friends and family each year. We drink a lot of natural wine. Everyone fights to play their favourite songs. It’s joyful and messy at the same time, like a matter of life and death.

Do you have any decorative accessories or tableware that you like taking out at this time of year to show off what you’ve created?

Jennifer

A lovely Limoges blue and gold fruit bowl which belonged to my great-grandmother, which I use to serve dessert. Every year I’m in charge of Christmas. It puts me under a lot of pressure! When my father is with us in France, he always tells me in advance to “try not to make something too healthy for us!

Table Salle à manger Jennifer Hart-Smith
“Our Most Beautiful Festive Tables “, with <br> Jennifer Hart-Smith
“Our Most Beautiful Festive Tables “, with <br> Jennifer Hart-Smith
“Our Most Beautiful Festive Tables “, with <br> Jennifer Hart-Smith
Céramiques Salle à manger Jennifer Hart-Smith

How do you get your children to join in with your preparations for Christmas? Do they cook with you?

Jennifer

Decorating the tree, definitely. Baking gingerbread and other cakes and cookies. But they are like me; they’ve seen too many cookies during the rest of the year.

What’s the story behind your apartment? How did you furnish it?

Jennifer

We only moved in recently, four months ago. We live near Gambetta and we wanted to remain in the neighbourhood at all costs. We found it by word of mouth. A couple, both architects, had lovingly refurbished it but they were looking to move to Bordeaux. All we had to do was unpack and move in. I still feel like it could use a personal touch; for example, a few travel souvenirs. But all the essentials are already in place. The cosy sofa, the large living room table: finally, we were able to put in some furniture that we cared about.

What are your plans for the future? Who will you be working with?

Jennifer

I’ve just bought some premises so that I can have my own lab in the 20th arrondissement. Until then, I’d shared a lab with others or worked in my partner’s kitchen, as he has his own restaurant. Apart from that, I’m going to be working on a book, and a slightly bigger plan for a restaurant/kitchen where I will be the pastry chef!

Table Salle à manger Jennifer Hart-Smith
Rangements Salon Jennifer Hart-Smith

I love the idea of adding guests at the last minute. It's joyful and messy at the same time, like a matter of life and death!

Portrait Salon Jennifer Hart-Smith
Rangement Salle à manger Jennifer Hart-Smith
Rangement Salon Jennifer Hart-Smith
Portrait Salon Jennifer Hart-Smith

Need some inspiration to bring your table settings to life? Discover our series “Our most beautiful festive tables” in collaboration with Opinel. The first episode takes place in Héloïse Brion‘s family home; she is better known for “Miss Maggie’s Kitchen“.

Deco inspiration...

Héloïse Brion and Christophe Roué, <br> Gabin 6, Balthazar 3 years old

Héloïse Brion and Christophe Roué,
Gabin 6, Balthazar 3 years old

That’s it, the sheer madness of the end-of-year holidays is taking over our daily lives! The excitement mounts with each passing day. We’re beginning to come up with a thousand ideas a minute to enhance every little thing, every...

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