Welcome back to our blog with a very fun and exciting interview - I think I had one of the most inspiring conversations so far with French creative and business owner of Table, Alice Moireau. You will be wondering how we met - through a mutual connection I went to her pop up in New York at Salter House, where she showcased the latest Table collection, featuring stripy and colourful linens, placemats and aprons.
Alice gives me appointment at 1:30pm at JG Melon, a cult in New York City, and while we order two bacon cheeseburgers we start an endless conversation around her life and her experiences - but she does not hesitate to ask back about myself. To say that her curiosity is infinite, would be reductive.
While we chat in this cozy staple restaurant on the Upper East Side, I realise that she is the wholesome bestfriend you want by your side, she is pure, genuine, humble and grounded. Her interests are so varied it’s both intriguing and inspiring - and this is what keeps her motivated to constantly learn more, a very admirable quality of hers. To be honest, I thought that my interview would only be one-sided, question and answer format with the spotlight being on her, but being the cool and unstoppable girl she is, she also kept asking me questions! Reality is, many of the people I met in NYC are so full of themselves and meeting someone so interesting, altruistic, funny and real was a shock.
I start by asking how everything started.
“Well I grew up in the country side, surrounded by artists - my mother was a textile designer working with Designers Guild, and my dad cooked a lot and we had very energetic and creative people by our sides. It was an environment of “Art de vivre”, where all those people were experts at what they were doing and it was all really inspiring. I was in contact with design, kitchens, homewares and that’s how I cultivated this artistic side of mine.
So who is your favourite interior designer?
Probably Paola Navone, she is just so funny and eclectic - her use of blue is captivating. I once visited her house and it’s so fierce and bold, with the use of blue, the fish - it's iconic and roccambolesque! She is so brave in the use of maximalist statements when designing interiors and I just love it.
After asking me what I do, and me telling her my ever-present tension between creativity and finance, she exclaims: “you should purse this anyway! You can definitely do both!” before she tells me that she also tested the grounds of more traditional corporate jobs in marketing, for example. She makes a point about advice for young people in their careers: “if you can - test it out. Just email or text the company you like and show that you are motivated to work for them! Just reach out and taste the waters, in that way you will understand what the future reserves for you. That’s exactly what I did after studying at Art School at Estienne and Science Po - I came to New York for a couple of months to do food styling: I would take pictures of tables, I would rent homeware to assemble table-scapes, it was so much fun that I realised I loved that job too. I realised I wanted to prove that it’s not an only men world - women can do it too. ”
How did school help you?
I loved attending Estienne because classes were very small, around 20 people, and we would work so hard all together, everyone from different backgrounds and with different expertise - I learnt from everyone because it was stimulating new ideas every second. I also learnt a lot about marketing, management and the like - which was also very helpful, especially when I started my own business. But hey, I’m still learning so much by all the people I speak to, I work with - it’s amazing this school of life.
How was Table born?
While I was writing my cookbook, my dear friend suggested I gave an apron as a package with the book and while we brainstormed about the idea, we thought why not make a business out of homeware? I loved hosting and baking and it just made perfect sense - I could balance my other projects, I could meet new artisans and creatives - all of this with the help of such a talented woman, Caroline Perdrix, acting like a mentor, with so many abilities and experiences made creating Table so fun.
What is your favourite dish to cook then?
Oh I love family dishes, just big tables with big plates where everyone shares food and energies in an intimate moment.
I tell her I love hosting and that I love having people around and proceed on showing what I had cooked recently and she says “oh my god I love eggs, I love cheese - I could eat cheese all day”. While we share our love for cheese I ask her what’s her favourite: “Its from my region, French goat cheese, but the firm one, like the Crottin de Chavignol”.
And what’s your favourite vegetable?
Oh lala, this is a difficult one! Probably aubergine: you can cook it in so many ways, you can use it for decoration - it’s so versatile!
I show her the following picture, of mini eggplants, and we start talking about farmer’s market - and Union Square’s one in NYC - which, according to Alice, is the only place where you can eat decent food - because groceries in America are horrible (and I agree). She also tells me she never cooks in NYC both because of the quality of the ingredients and the myriad of things she wants to try - so I immediately ask her what are her favourite spots are: “you need to go to Radio Bakery and Peter Pan Donut, the former is so good, the rolls, the brown butter cornbread, everything… while the latter is so traditional and good! For savoury, go to Rolo’s: they have handmade mortadella - I never even had hand made mortadella in Italy!”
We proceed on speaking about the popularity of Italian and French restaurants in NYC - they are the chicest and the best here and immediately I want to know more about her life in Paris: what is your favourite area? And restaurant?
I love my arrondissement - Belleville because there are so many Asian, Chinese and Vietnamese restaurants that I adore! She then opens a massive list of her own tips for the city and tells me you definitely have to try L'Orillon: the food is insane, its such an intimate and convivial atmosphere perfect for every occasion, birthday, dates whatever! What about your favourite restaurant in London? Funny that you asked Alice! I love Little Duck the Picklery - not only you have natural ones, but changing seasonal and weekly menus with a front-side kitchen table where you eat!
A propos of dates, what are your go to tips for heart-breaks and breakups?
To be honest I never had massive ones, but just travel - and if you can, go solo! Its so reinvigorating and refreshing, you can reflect, meet loads of people and especially relativise the problem. There are so many people living way more unfortunate lives than us that you compare and conclude that your breakup is so small. I completely agree you need to take a step back and as a spectator say: life goes on, I have the entire future ahead of me! Exactly, just be curious and travel.
What’s your favourite destination?
I love Lebanon - the warm culture, the people, the food. Everything. I had a cathartic experience there: you right people and right time.
What songs do you listen to?
Raggeaton!! I love it because my bestfriend is from Costa Rica. She does not hesitate to open her Apple Music and show me all the papi chulo songs:
But I also love classical musical - especially when I'm cooking dinner for my boyfriend and I: I lit some candles and put classical music - people say it’s cliché but I love clichés. They are clichés for a reason: they are timeless and always work!
How do you get inspired? How do you come up with new ideas?
I research through books - visual ones - especially the vintage ones from the 80s or 90s, I try to not get inspired by social media because that’s just trendy and not coming from my brain. I do a lot of research from my parents’ collections and for example I love Christian Lacroix. I love adding new twists to oldies.
What about reading?
I read a lot of fiction: I love Kundera so much but also this little funny novel by Pierre Assouline, “Les invites” and I recommend reading Romain Gary. Right now I’m currently finishing the story of The Crowdads Sing - and I feel so identified with it: the protagonist lives in the swamps, her nature life, being alone in the countryside - I grew up next to a river, much of my time alone, in a small village. What is your favourite book? Of course I tell her about Normal People: the miscommunication between young adults and the amazing actors in the series.
What’s your favourite perfume?
I’m not one for brands but I have been using number 28 from Ormais and I love it. The design is so elegant and chic. I then show her the skincare line from Kindred Black - also elegant and chic.
What’s your favourite colour?
Along the lines of white and beige I’d say because everything I love is in this realm of colours: eggs, cheese, meringues, my most comfortable clothes.
What’s always inside your bag?
I never wear a bag - but I always have lip balm with me!
I finally ask her what's her Passione di Vita?
I think it's gathering people around Spring. She giggles.
While we finish our conversation I tell Alice I am so glad and happy to have met someone so modest, genuine and down to earth. We give each other a big hug and rock off to a very cold New York.