Enchanting Frances

Aside from being a well known writer and blogger, Frances Schultz is also one of the most delightful people you could hope to meet. She has amazing spirit and a sparkling personality that makes her instantly the person you want to know better. Her recent must read book, The Bee Cottage Story, tells the tale of trials and tribulations of decorating her home in East Hampton, New York and the ups and downs she went through along the way, including a bout of cancer and a relationship or two that went awry.
Frances is also an amazing hostess, true to her generous spirit she hosted a poolside dinner for her friend Jane Scott Hodges this past summer. I am super excited to share Frances' insights and thoughts on entertaining with you today. Enjoy!

The enchanted setting in the garden of the fabled Bee Cottage.

Tell me about the occasion and meal you made/served.
We were celebrating Jane Scott Hodges’s new book, Linens. Jane is a friend but I’m also a huge fan of her beautiful Leontine Linens that grace the rooms of everywhere I live, both in New York and California. Every summer at Bee I like to have at least one whomped-up dinner party for 40 or so, and Jane was the happy excuse for this one. Brent Newsome is my go-to caterer out East. He lets me micro-manage the menu and use one or two of my own recipes, which gives a personal touch. He pretends like I do not drive him crazy, such a gentleman. Otherwise I’m a fan of small, impromptu gatherings—takes the  pressure off you being perfect. I do the cooking myself for those, which I love.

The hostess Frances Schultz.

What influences your menu choices when you entertain?
Depends on the crowd and time of year, of course, and what’s at the farmer’s market. I keep it simple and unfussy. Even if it is catered I don’t want it to look, feel, or taste “catered" and am adamant about presentations that look home-done and not restaurant-y. For a crowd I generally do a buffet dinner, so the food has to “hold” and be good at room temp. Passed hors d’oeuvres are  simple and few, lest one appear to be trying too hard; and I always have Aunt Ruby’s peanuts and pickled okra on the bar and one or two other stand-around places.

Pre dinner drinks poolside.

Who or what has most inspired your entertaining style?
Two of the greatest Southern belles of all time, my late mother and my godmother. They set beautiful tables in beautiful dining rooms and served great food that was straightforward and a little old-fashioned, and always in and with silver and starched linen. Jackie Kennedy in her White House days. Martha Stewart’s 1982  Entertaining. Alex Hitz, whose table I’ve been lucky enough to be around for years now, and he does it like few do anymore. Nina Griscom—it’s in her genes. And anecdotally the late great hostesses I’ve read about like Nan Kempner, Pat Buckley, Marella Agnelli, Perle Mesta!

The simply set table reflects the easy of summer entertaining in the Hamptons.

Has anyone been a strong influence in teaching you the l'art de recevoir? If yes how so.
See previous paragraph, first sentence! They were self-possessed, confident, and magnanimous. As kind and gracious to the Governor as to the UPS man, who now I think of it in our little town of Tarboro, NC, was kind of a hottie. The UPS man, not the Governor. That is the most important thing not only in l’art de recevoir, but in l’art de vivre, n’est-ce pas? I mean, have you ever been to a party where the hostess was horrid to the staff and then turned to you oozing with sweetness? UGH I just want to run away—and take the staff with me!

Love the single stems set around the lantern and votives. 

Do you have a favorite china or tabletop item that you collect?
Oh dear you’ll be sorry you asked. I am such a china slut, it’s embarrassing. In the City I cherish my Herend Fortuna, which has been discontinued; and my Crown Victoria, which has not. I grew up with Mottahedeh’s Tobacco Leaf; my family were tobacco farmers. An Adams ironstone was our “breakfast china,” and I’ve recently been buying it on eBay after seeing in in a blog post. I went crazy. Well, not crazy, but it was kind of like being reunited with an old friend. At Bee Cottage Mottahedeh’s green Torquay is my go-to. A random pattern that is spattered robin’s egg blue and painted with feathers inspired the cottage’s entire color scheme. At the ranch in California, our fancy is Royal Crown Derby’s Olde Avesbury—the colors are so warm and rich and great. I also have and love the Hermès Les Maisons Enchantées. I could open an outlet store… I know you’re sorry you asked…

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Karena Albert said...

Michael, thank you for this wonderful feature and conversation with Frances. I have long admired her style and panache; even more so now!

The Arts by Karena

Frances Schultz said...

Dear Michael! Am beyond flattered and honored to be here. Thank you for the fun and informative post on your fab fab blog! Every your fan, Frances

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