Delphine, who are you?
I am a woman who loves the good life, who works a lot, drinks at least as much and takes an active part in the education of five children, some of whom are stepchildren. One who sings French variety songs from the 70s at all hours, loves cooking with my boyfriend and cannot envisage life without my old (and increasingly older) friends. I love my bed, and also Françoise Sagan. I hate most illnesses, and I hate Laurent Wauquiez too.
You have a multiple career path. Which were the key milestones?
When I was 22, I left the suburbs determined to take control of my life. I went off to New York. There, I discovered that I spoke very poor English at first, but I was dreaming in English in the end, and I also found Dean & DeLuca, because they were a complete dream, utterly dedicated to quality food, and embodied everything I liked at the time. After this experience, I worked in the rag trade for 20 years, rising to the position of General Manager of Claudie Pierlot, which I left in 2014 to devote myself to Maison Plisson. I wanted to create a lively space dedicated entirely to the pleasures of eating well.
Before you embarked on your adventure with Maison Plisson, what did “good food and drink” mean to you?
They had been very important for a long time. When I was pregnant with my first daughter in 2000, I got on the Metro with my shopping trolley and went to do the shopping at Les Nouveaux Robinsons in Montreuil. I always read a lot, watched documentaries and attended conferences on these subjects, which seem to me to be important. How can we neglect our health? Don’t tell me we “haven’t got time” or that it’s “too expensive”. How did we do it before there was mass distribution? We were already feeding ourselves, in theory at least, and probably with more common sense! I’m pretty obsessive about it. And the worst thing is that my husband is just like me! When we’re on holiday, if you’re looking for us around ten in the morning, we will be on the terrace of a watering hole in the local market eating oysters with a glass of white wine, and about to go home and cook, having completed our shopping and with some newspapers and magazines under our arms for the afternoon siesta! That’s the definition of happiness in my eyes.
How did you manage to establish yourself as a woman in the entrepreneurial world? What obstacles did you encounter – and especially – how did you overcome them?
Naturally, you have to be competent ready for anything, and persistent! I didn’t think in 2015 that I would be confronted by bankers who would ask me (and there were several of them) what my husband thought of my project or how I was going to organise myself with all these children. You have to grit your teeth, smile and not waste energy on blaming yourself or whining. We don’t have time for that. We have to find constructive people to talk to and leave the others where they are. The vast majority of the Maison Plisson shareholders are amazing men, and I have quite a few women among the financial backers.
I hate knick-knacks, but we like to frame the little things we love and have them around us. We introduce surprises by moving them around, and adding in a record cover, a photo or drawings.
Your establishments are places where people like to spend time. How do you come up with their architecture, their layout?
Before each Maison Plisson, I make a very personal mood board with photographs, drawings, materials, quotes, and so on! I think of a Maison Plisson as if it were a house in fact: I need my customers to feel at home, as I do. I don’t use decorators, I take my time and do my research. I work with the architects Nicolas André and Julie Lafortune. While they do the plans and the highly technical things, I harass them over things like the grain of a mirror or the kind of wood for a shelf. We move forward together, and when the time to move in arrives, I carry on searching at night! I also have help from my good friends Chloé Nègre and Fabienne Nominé. She and Pascal, her husband, have no equal when it comes to finding you that little something that is missing and is just exactly what you need!
How do you maintain the tremendous energy that drives you, both at Maison Plisson and at home?
I’m afraid I’m a bit like Obelix. It’s as if I fell into a magic potion as a child! I’m always bursting with energy, which can be quite exhausting for others. At Maison Plisson, I have the incredible opportunity to live my dream and I immerse myself in the values that are vital to me. Do you realise? 650 artisans, the bearers of skills and knowledge, a heritage unique in the world, terroirs full of wonders, who work in often very difficult conditions and whom we support in a practical way on a daily basis. 120 employees working in the food industry, passionate about their work, at one with the project seven days a week. Doing stuff is so much more exciting, lively, and vibrant than talking about it. I know which side I’m on! And at home, with three teenagers, a pre-teen, a baby and a big strong dog, if you don’t have the energy to cope, you die. But I have my man, who channels me and supports me no matter what. And that’s a luxury of which I am fully aware!
How do you occupy the space when all seven of you are at home?
You’ve forgotten Georges, our dog and April, the cat! We were lucky enough to find a funny property perched high up, where everyone has their own living space… There are six rooms, not very large, but essential when the ages are as varied as they are here. This house is perched right at the top of the building, and the living room is on the fourth floor, the fifth floor is home to our room and Françoise’s room as well as a bathroom and Vincent’s office. The sixth and seventh floors are the teenager’s den! There are four areas up there that are difficult to distinguish because our children are so messy. Like the dungeon of a haunted mansion, I rarely go up there, other than to scream and threaten. (Laughs)
What will we find in your refrigerator? What is the product that everyone agrees on, the recipe that hits the nail on the head when you run out of time?
Champagne! It’s a house rule. There’s always something to celebrate or something to forget, isn’t there? What dish is everyone’s favourite at home? That changes with the season. At the moment it’s the first pears, to bite into just as they are, to cook and smother with melted chocolate, or to make into a big tart, and which finally end up in infusions with herbs, ginger and lemon, for all the family to sip of an evening, ! In Autumn, our favourite dish when we are in a hurry is a simple soup. With lots of vegetables, cereals and pulses, in a good strong stock that we store in the freezer, in ice-cube trays. It takes just 10 minutes, it simmers away while we enjoy a glass of red wine, and then off it goes to the table with some good bread and a piece of cheese.
Which five cookery books are absolute essentials in your library? Apart from the Maison Plisson one.
All those from the 180° magazine which we love! The others vary according to the seasons. At the moment I am reviewing “Mezze : Assiettes du Moyen-Orient à partager” (Mezze: Middle Eastern plates to share) by Salma Hage who offers lots of ideas for small recipes to share, ideal in the summer! I’ve just finished “Halte aux aliments ultra transformés !” (Stop ultra-processed food!) “Mangeons vrai” (Let’s eat real) by Anthony Fardet. I loved “Jardin de Chefs” (Chefs’ gardens), published by Phaidon, where we were able to visit the vegetable gardens of the super chefs. At home, I have at least 100 cookery books, which still doesn’t stop me from cutting recipes out from all the magazines (recipes that I never make, of course!)
When it comes to decoration, what style appeals to you? Do you enjoy hunting for bargains, and if so, where?
I fell in love with the 70s, one night, during the work on the apartment. When we woke up, my husband discovered that I had ordered this travertine table from Willy Rizzo, which earned me some insults from the removers on the day they had to heave it up the four flights of stairs! But I persevered with another mirrored model (a bar is hidden inside, how’s that for happiness) again by Willy Rizzo, placed in the centre of the leather seating which was made to measure by SOCA so we could finally all sit down together to watch a film. We can all spread out among the Monde Sauvage cushions! We are also fortunate to have creative and talented friends like Moderncarpenters, who created this bar counter – TV – library, the piece of furniture that separates the dining room the living room as well as the plywood kitchen furniture Nomibis found this perfect mirror and the larder cupboard which holds all our fruit and vegetables for the week. I hate knick-knacks, but we like to frame the little things we love and have them around us. We introduce surprises by moving them around, and sometimes adding in a record cover (for example the one from Alex Lutz’s film “Guy“, which we loved), a photo from a shoot (most recently, one of a scene from the film “Falling in Love“), or drawings (including some by my great favourite, Morgane Rospars). Finally, throughout the house you will find works by Zoé Rumeau, An artist of great delicacy whose work pops up throughout our lives!
If you had to choose a creation from the Socialite Family collection, for your home or for Maison Plisson, what would it be?
The Copertina throw! We already received one as a gift for Françoise when she was born. I love textiles, I buy them for a lot of projects, which results in me having piles of folded fabrics, which is really beautiful!
What have you got in store for us before the end of 2019?
Lots of things! New Chefs in Residence, new places; there are lots of projects in the pipeline before the end of the year if everything falls into place. Which will, of course, not be the case. (Laughs)
Photography: Eve Campestrini – Text: Caroline Balvay @thesocialitefamily