Exotic Entertaining with Marie France Van Damme
by allison polster
An array of Moroccan, Indian, and Thai dishes from Marie France Van Damme’s new tome, RSVP
Friends of clothing designer Marie France Van Damme still remember parties at her Meatpacking District loft more than three decades ago. Guests would be taken aback when they walked into the room with her long, low teak Thai table surrounded by cushions and topped with candles and cut flowers, and beautiful bowls of simple Moroccan, Indian, or Thai cuisine. “That was the way I entertained then in New York, already 30-some years ago, and the way I entertain today,” says Van Damme, who shares her methods in a new tome, RSVP: Simple Sophistication, Effortless Entertaining (Thames & Hudson; $30), out this month.
Through the stunning photographs by Herbert Ypma and simple tips on flowers, candles, food, art, and the table, Van Damme makes hosting an elegant evening at home seem attainable. “With a little effort [and] just a bit of imagination” an ordinary evening can be made magical, she explains. Van Damme, whose new line of hostess-ware arrives in stores in January, even holds that you can entertain beautifully without cooking by adding herbs such as mint or coriander, extra olive oil, and even cut lemons and limes to make take-out dishes appear homemade. “I always say to eat with your eyes is almost more important than what is in the dish,” she says.
For the holidays, Van Damme creates ornaments out of red or white roses and utilizes a mirror for her tabletop. “It’s amazing how your glasses, silverware, and flowers look,” she adds.
RSVP: Simple Sophistication, Effortless Entertaining is available at bookstores citywide.