Home & Design

Weekend Reading: Charlotte Moss Entertains

Designer Charlotte Moss, left, and friend Susan Hull Walker outshine the garden in their splendid caftans. Walker is the founder of Ibu Movement, a collective of women artisans around the world who make caftans and other clothing. / Photo by Brittany Ambridge, from Charlotte Moss Entertains.

Decorator, retailer, event planner, Charlotte Moss knows from fancy. She’s the one with drawers filled with table linens ready to mix and match with the plates and bowls she has been collecting for decades. Through her professional projects she knows all the best florists in Manhattan and the best caterers. And she can entertain in the Upper East Side town house she shares with her husband, or at their place in the Hamptons. Just like us! 

So she’s set up for any kind of entertaining. But she’s realistic enough to cut the rest of us a break. Case in point: She’s totally in favor of buffets—and so are we!

Here’s what she has to say about buffet entertaining in her new book, Charlotte Moss Entertains, published in April by Rizzoli International Publications. (I love the way  she seems to think a lot of us have fireplace fenders!)

—Nancy McKeon

I LOVE a buffet—guests can select exactly what they want.

A buffet is one of my favorite ways to entertain a group larger than my dining room table can accommodate. In fact, one of the great benefits of a buffet is that it leaves you room to be a bit more elastic with the size of your guest list, and free to add at the last minute. Count your chairs, stools, ottomans, fireplace fenders, and sofas; you may be surprised just how many people you can seat. Buffets are generally more relaxed and the conversation more animated because people have more freedom of movement than they would at the dinner table, and can chat with others while standing in line to fill their plates. When it comes time for dessert, you have an opportunity to switch partners and possibly meet someone new. And, there is the matter of the menu. There are the no-carb eaters, the vegetarians, the gluten-free guests, and every once in awhile there is an old-fashioned carnivore who has seconds of the prime rib but will simply not eat anything green. This is when every guest is appreciative of the buffet format because no one feels bad about refusing food due to their restrictions—everyone gets exactly what they want.

If you like gathering people together, buffets are perfect for you.

M.F.K. Fisher distilled some guidelines for the buffet in a few sentences. “Plates should be large and easy to hold in one hand—no heavy porcelain—and they should have a well-defined edge or rim to take care of teeterings and swayings. In the same way, the silver should be light and simple, and the napkins should be large and, of course, never starched. Glasses, stemmed or not, should be short and solid.”

—Charlotte Moss

Excerpted from Charlotte Moss Entertains. Copyright © 2018  by Charlotte Moss. Copyright © 2018 by Rizzoli International Publications, Inc. Reprinted with permission of the publisher.


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