October 15, 2015

Michael Devine Ltd. strives to create beautiful products that are unique and always handmade. Using the best artisans in both the USA and France, every yard of fabric or piece of china is carefully crafted and made to order.

Un Dîner en Famille with designer Young Huh

Since taking the design world by storm with her stunningly pretty Kips Bay Designer Show House room in 2014, designer Young Huh has made her mark in decorating. In spite of her girl about town profile, I find her refreshingly traditional in many of our mutual interests such as decorating and entertaining. 
She continues the tradition of “ family only” Sunday dinners with her family. That dining ritual is now so old school it could be considered avant garde. Today, it is so much more common (in all respects) for many families to be glued to their devices rather than talking to each other during meals. I strongly, suspect devices never appear at Young’s table.
I was very happy when Young agreed to be apart of this column and share her families Sunday dinner table setting and her thoughts on entertaining. I think you will be too. Enjoy!

Designer Young Huh 

Tell me about the occasion and meal you made.

Every Sunday, my family has Sunday dinner.  Like so many American families, we find it difficult to have dinner together during the week,  so we made a commitment to have dinner together each Sunday. I have found its such a great way to teach the children how to set a table, cook and to celebrate and cherish a meal together.  We play music, light candles and really try to make it fun and a bit indulgent.  For this Sunday's meal we made Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon and served it with bread and some blanched asparagus on the side. We usually have dessert only on Sundays.  This Sunday, we bought a coconut cake from our favorite bakery Lulu cake boutique because there wa no time for baking!

 Young's elegant dining room.

What influences your menu choices when you entertain?
I always try to keep menus simple and seasonal.  Fancy, complicated meals are for restaurant visits. The best advice I received from a restaurateur is to hand guests a cocktail as soon as they arrive, but if any of your guests are talented cooks, pass out vodka shots. Just about anything tastes good after that.  Even for our Sunday dinners, my husband and I will have a glass of wine while we are preparing dinner. I'll have simple bites such as crisps, crudité and dip and nuts to go with the cocktails so people don’t get too tipsy (except where the vodka shot strategy must be employed).  For the meal, I'll serve sliced aged ribeye, grilled vegetables and roasted potatoes.  Alternatively, I might have poached salmon or a roast leg of lamb with two to three vegetables dishes.  For dessert, I make the Pioneer Woman's chocolate cake, chocolate chip cookies and ice cream, or a fruit crisp.  Whether we have guests or just ourselves, I keep the menu comforting, homey, and easy. 

Its about the mix. Minton china meets Ikea placemat.

Who or what has most inspired your entertaining style?

I have been most inspired by all of the editorial stories I had read in glossy magazines and books- including yours Michael!  One of the most lovely meals I've ever had was a lunch at Bunny William's house.  We had poached salmon in her conservatory along with several side dishes composed of vegetables from her garden.  It was casual and simple but incredibly beautiful and delicious.  I would say that would be my goal for entertaining at my home:  To offer guests a little magical interlude that is also comforting and comfortable.

Has anyone been a strong influence in teaching you the l'art de recevoir? If yes, how so?

My parents entertained a lot when I was growing up and hosted a wide variety of people.  They had everything from raucous Korean church socials to more formal seated charity dinners. I think this experience taught me how to move through many cultures and to be open to a variety of styles. One evening may bring an ambassador with a fancy catered dinner, the next, a church sponsored immigrant family with no home who were overjoyed to be served a rice and soup buffet.  From my parents, I learned to be sensitive to our guests needs and to be warm and open. That is really what hospitality is all about.    

Do you have a favorite china or tabletop item that you collect?

I would say my collector crazies kick in with decorative pieces more than place settings.  In general I like to serve food on white plates so I don't have to worry about what foods look good on which plates.  But occasionally I'll break out green rimmed Minton dishes, Wedgewood Ruby Ulander, blue and white Royal Copenhagen. I like to collect white porcelain - everything from Astier de Villatte, Frances Palmer to modern Nymphenburg vases. I am also fascinated by 19th century imitation exportware. For instance, I bought some English ironstone china that is painted to look like Japanese porcelain for people who couldn't afford the real thing.  The artwork looks like an English garden in Meiji colors. I love beautiful culture clashes.