For September’s Out & Out Insider we talk designer dining tables, dinner parties and Divine Chocolate with London-based food blogger and entrepreneur Pauline Milligan.
Through her sustainable food consultancy, Pauline Milligan runs a number of projects including a food festival in South London and a business development programme for new food enterprises. Pauline also works with her husband Thomas Baker, an interior and still life photographer, developing recipes and photos for clients such as Divine Chocolate, creating and styling mouth-watering dishes. Her work has been featured in the likes of HelloMagazine.com and Woman & Home.
Pauline is a firm believer in the power of food to bring people together and loves nothing more than cooking for friends and family in her South London flat. Her food blog EatDrinkLoveFood offers some delicious and stylish dishes that can be attempted by even the most inexperienced home cook. With Pauline’s eye for style and talent for creating the perfect recipe we wanted to find out more about her interior design influences and see if we can glean a few tips for throwing an unforgettable dinner party...
Can you offer any simple styling ideas for Autumnal dinner parties?
This is such a great time of year for seasonal fruit and veg, with pumpkins, mushrooms and beetroots; apples, blackberries and plums – producing lots of deep, rich and earthy colours to work with. And I think nothing is more authentically Autumn than making this produce the focal point of your meal; perhaps a roasted butternut squash and mushroom tart that can be brought out to the table whole, or a beautiful beetroot salad, with smoked mackerel and horseradish dressing. For the table displays or serving dishes, look for fabrics and materials that will really make the colours stand out. We always keep an eye out for interesting dishes and bits of fabric in local charity shops – anything that will add a bit of contrasting texture or colour at the table.
On a similar theme, can you recommend a recipe for anyone wanting to impress their dinner party guests?
For a simple but impressive autumnal dessert, I’d recommend my ginger poached pears with chocolate sauce (below). I developed this recipe for Divine Chocolate a couple of years ago as part of a Chocolate Week promotion and it always results in lots of 'oohs' and 'aahs' when brought to the table.
What is the first piece of furniture you bought and why?
I wish I could say it was something stylish and interesting, but in reality it was a flat-pack computer workstation from IKEA, bought when I was at university. I actually quite enjoy assembling flat-pack furniture and remember feeling rather proud after putting it together.
What is your most treasured piece?
There are a few pieces in our home that I love but if I had to choose one, it would be the gorgeous G-Plan dressing table my husband found in a local charity shop. It’s beautifully crafted and in near-perfect condition, with a quirky carousel drawer on the bottom right. I love showing it to people when they come to visit.
Do you have a top tip for furniture care?
My husband and I are both quite lazy when it comes to maintenance, so my top tip (and the one that we always try to follow) is to buy things that are well-made and built to last, to avoid the need for lots of care!
What would you say is your primary furniture style or influence for your own home?
I love mid-century modern furniture and we have a few pieces in our flat (including the G-Plan dressing table); it really suits our home, which was built in the 60s. We only moved in six months ago and I’ve really enjoyed the process of re-decorating and furnishing the place; it has a wonderful light and spacious feel and we’re determined to keep it clutter-free – hopefully that will last!
Do you have a favourite piece on O&OO, if so, what makes it stand out?
I’m a big fan of the new O&OO dining sets and I particularly like the Theo Shell 6 Seater Dining Set (above); I can imagine hosting some great dinner parties around it. The chairs are a nice take on the classic Eames DSW, and there’s a certain elegance about the dining table. I’d rather like this set for our home!