My name is Nataniël. I sing, I stage theatre productions, I write books, I present television shows and I entertain at home. Except for the place where the chef is a friend and one unforgettable dinner in the private dining room of the Ritz in Paris, I really do not enjoy eating in restaurants, my favourite meals happen at home or at the homes of friends. And to be really honest, when I think back, I remember table settings, flowers, decor, outfits, guests and conversations, the food only occasionally.
Make no mistake, the food is important, but I enjoy simple, completely uncomplicated, rustic and utterly bold dishes served on beautiful large plates, not the stuff skilled cooks slave over for hours. Maybe because of the years on the road, too many formal events, the memory of my grandmother’s table or my (still strange) fear of public spaces, but give me a fantastical table in the middle of a homely setting, rising like an oasis in a domestic desert, and I am in heaven.
I live a quiet life in a simple, very private, minimalist, all-white house. But like my stage shows, there is seldom any restraint when it comes to a table setting. The dining room is my playground and I can play for hours, creating dramatic or whimsical or serene table settings, never too serious, precious or bridal, but hopefully playful, surprising and theatrical. Often surrounded by dress dummies in costumes, often revealing gifts, often inspired by history, my table has seen many, many happy guests. The table is as important as the food and is the thing I look forward to the most.
I am a host and a home cook, you will not learn extraordinary techniques from me. This is my food archive and I share it like a favourite magazine or a souvenir programme from a special evening. Every dish has been tried, tested, served and enjoyed. I will add on as my sporadic social life allows. Welcome to my dining room!
Hectic days, long distances, ugly supermarkets and abusive shopping malls have all led to a lifestyle of carefully planned shopping trips, trying to create magic with basics, avoiding complicated recipes and cooking with only the most loved ingredients.
With these in the house I can survive many things:
Eggs, Eggs, Eggs
Vanilla (in all natural forms!)
There are hundreds of cookbooks covering the walls of two rooms, many were gifts, many were brought back from travels, many were written by friends, many were too pretty not to buy. I read them in bed, I page through them on a rare quiet afternoon and I almost never cook from them.
There is a little pile that grows and shrinks from time to time, these are the ones I keep going back to for inspiration, pleasure, great memories and foolproof triumphs.
THE ART OF DINING
by Sara Paston-Williams
I have read this book more often than any other book I own.
History is everything.
From the arrival of the tablecloth to the clumsy design of the very first fork,
all the fascinating facts are here.
by Nan Kempner
If the rich, famous and most powerful can serve the simplest food,
then I will not be intimidated again.
I celebrate my humble palate!
THE COMPLETE BOCUSE
by Paul Bocuse
French classics made humanly possible with relatively easy recipes
and without pages and pages of ingredients.
Great layout, great fonts, great everything.
FEMME DE CHAMPAGNE
by Carol Duval-Leroy
Champagne is the only thing that comes with a cork and ends up in my glass. Cooking with champagne is festive and exquisite.
by Martha Stewart
The book that made Martha Stewart famous, the most complete entertaining book I have ever seen, every recipe works perfectly. A gift from a fellow singer. Changed my life!
PANINI, BRUSCHETTA, CROSTINI: SANDWICHES, ITALIAN STYLE
There is no life without bread. A sandwich, traditional, fashionable or experimental, is still the very best meal.
MEMORIES OF GASCONY
by Pierre Koffmann
Stunning book, stunning paper, stunning food. I imagine every recipe featuring in some classic European film.
by Mary Contini
A celebration of home cooking, family, tradition, knowledge and elegance.
by Tessa Kiros
I own every book she’s ever written, they are the most beautiful cookbooks in the world. This one takes my breath away. It stays visible at all times, never on the shelf.
THE LIVING KITCHEN
by Jutka Harstein
A regular savior. See a vegetable, have little time? This book has brilliant ideas and some excellent writing.