The home cook and master of an Instagrammable table spread reveals the styling tips and beloved family recipes she’ll be turning to this Mother’s Day.
Home cook Jessica Nguyen makes entertaining look easy with her beautifully impressive tablescapes for every occasion. With Mother’s Day fast approaching, we asked her where she draws her inspiration from, her golden rules for styling and entertaining, and what’s on the menu (and table) for her own family celebration.
Set the table
IN THE ROUNDHOUSE
Green Floral Wreath Plate
DAVID JONES COLLECTION
Linen Union Napkins
1815 Signature Plates
Have you always been creative?
Yes, but I think everyone has a ‘creative’ side to a certain extent. Before my current career in food and previous career in beauty in the corporate world, I was a dance teacher and had danced for 18 years prior to that. I was very much into performing arts as a child, but when I started working after university I didn’t really have an outlet for my creativity, so I turned to cooking. Fast forward a decade and it’s now my job. [My creativity has] come back out again in the way I cook, share recipes and style my tablescapes and home.
Where do you draw your inspiration from?
It comes from anything and everything. Sometimes I’m inspired by a colour, a texture, a dish that I’m craving, food or florals that are in season, a memory, a travel destination I miss or one I’m yet to explore.
Do you have one room in your home that you consider to be your sanctuary?
The dining room is the heart of my home figuratively and literally. It’s where I work, where I eat, where I host and where friends and family gather. It has a warm aura about it and is my favourite room of the house.
J’ai Soif Carafe Set
Bold Pearl Vase
Grand Galet Candleholder
Chandelles Tapered Candles
What are some of your favourite home decor pieces?
It has to be my blue and white crockery, which I’ve been collecting for the past eight years, and is a collection of new and vintage pieces from brands such as Spode. Life’s too short to eat on boring white plates, and colourful plates are one of the best ways to make a tablescape instantly vibrant! I’m also obsessed with coloured glassware and have an ever-growing collection from Maison Balzac. I love investing in staple crockery and glassware that you can use every day. Just like a staple pair of jeans, if you invest in beautiful plates, cutlery or even glassware for every day, your daily rituals become a little more special.
“Don’t be afraid to mix and match crockery and glassware, or even a clashing napkin with a different coloured tablecloth.”
Make a toast to your mum with BOLLINGER Special Cuvée Brut NV
What are your best tips for styling tabletops?
1. Invest in a good-quality tablecloth as it will instantly transform any drab table or room.
2. Don’t be afraid to mix and match what you have at home: mismatched crockery and glassware can look really lovely and inviting, or even a clashing napkin with a different coloured tablecloth.
3. Don’t just focus on how the table looks. Other sensorial touches like a lovely smelling candle or a fun playlist that matches the vibe of your menu will make for an incredible atmosphere.
Estelle Crystal Coupes
Jazz Long Drink
Has your mum played an influential role in your love for cooking?
Absolutely, though each my mum, dad and maternal grandma have been big influences. Both of my parents are amazing cooks who love hosting dinner parties together and cooking up a storm, so I learnt and absorbed that joy of cooking from them. From the age of three to five, I lived with my grandma who was also a great cook and made me fall in love with Vietnamese dishes and French-style desserts, from crème caramel to her iconic profiteroles with crème pâtissière. The latter is still a recipe that comes out at every dinner party.
What recipe makes you feel the most connected to your family?
Any Vietnamese recipe, really. Vietnamese food is all about sharing and connection – even the way dishes are served on a table is to be shared with others. I feel most connected to my family when I’m enjoying a Vietnamese meal at my parents’ house or them at mine.
What does a typical Mother’s Day look like for you?
It’s normally spent with my parents for lunch and then dinner with my mother-in-law and husband’s family. Regardless of the home or where it is celebrated, there’s always delicious food and wine on the table.