So you've got friends coming round for a casual Christmas drink... you don't want to do a fussy sit down meal, but a few bowls of crisps and nuts just won't suffice.
We've got this.. xx
So you've got friends coming round for a casual Christmas drink... you don't want to do a fussy sit down meal, but a few bowls of crisps and nuts just won't suffice.
We've got this.. xx
So I've been asked what I would recommend as the essential key buys to achieve some solid looks for home entertaining. In the fashion world every great wardrobe has those capsule items, that are classic and timeless, so why the hell can't your cupboards house some go-to investment pieces too I say?
Sure, if you're trying out a very specific theme or look then additional items need to be bought/begged/borrowed/hired (but never stolen..), but it's pretty easy to build up a nice solid collection of reliable pieces that can be re-used and recycled time and time again.
My most recent workshop - Romantic Meals - is an example of a classic table scape, that relies on the very neutral and versatile investment pieces that we are talking about here. That said, let me break it down for you so you can start a collection of your very own. I've got your back sister (or brother), fear not.
Clockwise from top:
Lace table runner
Oval serving plate
Glass three tiered stand
Small brass candle holder
Classic dinnerware collection
Distressed cutlery collection
Blush cut glassware
5 arm brass candelabra
Fleur glass tumblers
Colour, texture, and contrast can be added with flowers, herbs, fruit, berries etc. but here you have the foundations from which you can build many a sexy little dining table of dreams.
Love Jenna x
Tickets for the next Romantic Workshop are still available: Saturday 4th February, 2-5pm. Click on Workshops in the menu bar for further details.
After several years abroad and several summertime christmases, I long for the sort of festive season that Bing Crosby sings about. I'm talking chestnuts roasting on an open fire, sleigh bells ringing, snowman building, winter wonderland sh*t in all it's finery.
That said, when I heard about the UK's "top day out for families" Lapland UK - I was all over it. I have a three year old so its socially acceptable to go on these sorts of things, although truth be told I would have hired a kid just for the chance to go if necessary. The website is wonderful and the anticipation begins from the moment of purchasing your (extortionate) tickets.
A week before we were due to go a letter arrived in the post addressed to my little boy, complete with oldie worldie wax seal, all the way from Santa's workshop. The big man himself urged us to make our way to Lapland UK and help build toys for the children of the world. Even if this was completely lost on my three year old, I was sold.
The place promises to be a fully immersive experience, where once entered, you are transported into another world - a million miles away from the A332 exit off the M3 towards Bracknell/Lightwater. At precisely 10.30am, having followed the animated hand gestures of a man in high-vis, we parked up in a forest clearing nauseatingly named "Badger", or was it "Field Vole" or "Swamp Rat"? (can't quite remember..) and were ready for the adventure to begin.
True to it's word, once we stepped inside the flat pack, log cabin style structure (which I'm told gets dismantled each year and lovingly re-assembled each September - about the same time that Tesco starts stocking its shelves with mince pies and decorations) it was like stepping foot into a well rehearsed Shakespeare in the Park performance.
Once beckoned from the waiting area into the inner sanctum, we were greeted by a collection of eccentric elves, who led us on our journey through santa's realm for the duration of our three hour experience. Dressed like extras from a Harry Potter movie, they each had whimsical names like Conker, Sage, Willow, and Eco. I felt like I had stumbled across a strange hippy commune and was about to be asked to de-robe and chant naked around a fire in honour of natures abundance...time would only tell.
It's like a well-oiled machine, where every step is timed to perfection and you are led from one room to the next - helping stuff a toy in Santas workshop, then onto Mrs Christmas' kitchen to ice gingerbread. To be fair to them, they were chipper throughout and stayed unfalteringly in character despite some sugar-crazed four year old loosing their sh*t having eaten all the jelly beans intended to decorate their gingerbread man in one bite.
All but one elf we encountered was full of the joys of the season. This particular disgruntled elf served us lunch in the elf restaurant without so much of a smile, and one can only assume she was coming down from a hard night on the pixie dust, or maybe she was stinging following a lusty encounter with Conker, only to be cast aside the very next day. Either way, she had a face like last week.
After the very staged activities in the toy shop and kitchen you are set free into the Elf Village to ice skate, frolic in spray-on-snow and generally spend enough elf jingles to justify re-mortgaging your house. Elf jingle I hear you ask...? I forgot to mention this, you cannot spend the bog-standard sterling in Lapland, oh no, all purchases are to made by elf jingle (current exchange rate £1 = 1J). You can exchange your money on arrival at Lapland UK and are handed a hearty red velvet sack of jingles before you begin your tour. This is my biggest criticism of the day, once in the Village, everything costs extra and you end up haemorrhaging jingles like no-bodies business. Whether it be at the post office, sending a post card to Father Christmas (why I ask, when you're about to go and meet him in the flesh) or in Pixie Mixie's sweet shop on overpriced confectionary - expect to dish out the cash.
Despite the expense, meeting the big fella at the very end of the tour was priceless. Hands down the best FC I've ever had the pleasure of encountering and an absolute joy to behold. My little one was mesmerised and the pictures we have are like something from a fairytale. You spend a good ten minutes in the hot seat with him and he shows your little one his/her name on the good list, before presenting them with a husky dog from his laden sack (behave).
My honest opinion - it is a great day out for the family yes, best in the UK...? questionable. The perfect sweet spot age wise, I believe, is 4-6 years. Any younger and the activities go by the way-side, any older and sadly the make-believe, whimsy required may be too far a stretch for the 7+.
It's a once in a lifetime experience. I don't think it's something you'd take on year after year as I hear nothing changes from one season to the next. So I encourage you to book your tickets for next year, and hope to Jesus, Mary and Conker that the post Brexit/Trump economy makes the jingle a little more palatable to spend.
Merry Christmas to all!
1 x can of 397g can of condensed milk
3 x cups of milk & dark chocolate (half milk / half dark)
2 x candy canes
Edible glitter snow for dusting (optional)
Try adding chopped hazelnuts, mini marshmallows and dried cranberries for a festive rocky road style fudge. Sprinkle the top with popping candy for a fun twist for the kids.
So here is a little recipe (if you can even call it that), which I whip out at pretty much any and every opportunity. It's a real bang for buck number. I was taught this bad boy from a friend of mine, a very talented chef, who I met years ago and is now doing fabulous things in Sydney. He is a bright, energetic and foul mouthed scouse whose food has as much personality as he does. He has a whole philosophy about canapés and food for events that he explained to me once at the beginning of my career, and it has stuck with me ever since.
Canapés / nibbles / bites / antipasti whatever you want to call them - as food goes have a pretty rough time of it. Generally served in a party scenario they have so much to compete with - loud music, conversation, not to mention tastebuds that are taking a pounding from various alcoholic drinks in quick succession. To get noticed they have to pack a real punch, and trust me when I say these little bites really do. The trick here is to over season, not by crazy amounts, but a few notches past where you would normally dare venture. Trust me, it works.
David O'Brien's Pea, Mint & Ricotta Crostini
1 x small French stick
1 tub of ricotta cheese
Half bunch of fresh mint leaves
1 x cup of peas (defrosted frozen peas are fine)
Zest of 1 x lemon + juice
Salt & pepper
I like to serve these on a wooden board and let people help themselves. Sadly, they never last long.
I always say a memorable event or occasion is the sum of a thousand small gestures (I heard it somewhere and I'm taking it as my own), and it really is so true. It doesn't just apply to events either, at the moment I'm at the tail end of a major house rebuild and renovation. We're at the dressing stage where every single design decision made will impact upon the overall feel of the space. I'm relishing the project - but it is an all-consuming, and at times, daunting task. Like with any creative work nothing is ever black and white but a thousand shades of grey with endless possibilities. So whether I'm tasked with delivering an event or as I currently am, b@lls deep in home design, I go back to basics and consider the fundamentals of great space design and the human senses - light, smell, sound and touch. These can of course be split into countless sub-categories (texture, tone, colour, height etc), but at least you have some clarity and a starting point.
That said, when I started out in my events career, I worked for a man who was undoubtedly a visionary (albeit a bit of an arrogant, short-tempered one) and an absolute tyrant for the small details. He had been known to show up to an event five minutes before guests were due to arrive and decide to change the entire floral concept at a moment's notice, or swap out everything red for blue. He was enough to turn all those around him (myself included) into self-doubting, bumbling idiots and for that I will never forgive him. In turn, he did make me incredibly meticulous also, so for that I will always be grateful. One thing that he was particularly fastidious about was lighting, and I 100% agree with him on that one.
There is nothing worse than going for a drink at a bar that is so brightly lit that it feels like midday at 9pm. It's like that moment at the end of the school disco when the lights go up and you realise that the boy you have been slow dancing with looks more like Screech from Saved by the Bell than Leo in Romeo & Juliet. Major buzz kill. Conversely there is a famous restaurant in Sydney that is so poorly lit it's like going caving instead of out for dinner. I literally had to use my phone to shed light on the menu and even then it was like a Russian roulette as to what actually turned up. So you see, lighting is of the utmost importance to set mood and tone. As the Goldilocks of light might say, not too bright, not too dim, just right. I also recommend creating pockets of light to create depth and focal points, depending on the use of the space. In my home I have a combination of wall lighting, pendant lighting, spot lighting and the trusty table lamp so that I can isolate space depending on the occasion. This also provides light at different heights, which again creates areas of interest in an otherwise large expanse of space.
Next time you're out to dinner take note of the lighting situation and how is influences your overall experience...if I ruin dining out for you from hereon in, I humbly apologise, but if I open your eyes to a world of lighting possibilities - you're so very welcome.
Forget the fact that Valentine's day is just around the corner - we love us a bit of love any time of the year! If you're thinking of getting down on bended knee anytime soon, then rest assured however you choose to do it will be the right way.. unless of course, you're not Mr (or Mrs) Right after all.
Whether you decide to go low-key or pull out all the stops and plan something unforgettable - we are here to help. Proposals are one of the only times in life where it's socially acceptable, if not encouraged even, to throw caution to the wind and go all Disney princess - The Notebook - PDA - Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan on the situation. Why the hell not?!
For ideas and inspiration contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Yes, yes, yes!
Maybe it's because I'm a walking cliche and, (like the rest of the world), overindulged this Christmas, or maybe it's because I got a new NutriPro blender and copy of Deliciously Ella from Santa this year...but either way I'm starting off 2016 liquid stylie. I love me a shake / smoothie for all of the obvious, harped on about, heavily Instagramed reasons - they're quick and easy. Yesterday morning, still in the first week of January and with the well-intentioned health kick in full swing, I whipped this baby up for breakfast. It was divine.
1 x banana
1 x heaped tbsp oats
1 x heaped tbsp almond butter
1 x heaped tsp cocoa nibs
1 x level tbsp flaxseed
1 x tsp maple syrup / raw organic honey (to taste)
Half cup of almond milk
Add all of the ingredients to a blender and whizz until smooth and creamy. If the consistency is too thick add more almond milk to loosen it. Serve in a wine glass (why not) with a sprinkle of cinnamon and enjoy.
Tune in next week when I've fallen off the wagon and drinking mimosas for breakfast.
Exciting times at Chapel Lane as we branch out into chillier shores. Whilst still operating in sunny Sydney, we have just opened shop in leafy Surrey on the fringe of London. It's nothing short of fantastic to be on British soil and we're loving the buzz and atmosphere of one of the world's most inspiring cities. With a thick blanket of Autumn leaves lining the floor wherever we tread, winter is just around the corner and it's getting more festive everyday. We've already had our fill of roast dinners and mulled wine - but you won't hear us complaining about that.
We cannot wait for the party season to descend upon us and here's hoping this Christmas is white.
Enjoy your week.
Chapel Lane now operates UK wide, contact us on email@example.com for more information.
Well this has certainly given us a good dose of the old butterflies this morning! Seeing the fantastic Chapel Lane Launch Party in print today was pretty darn exciting for a drizzly Monday that's for sure. An awful lot has happened since that glorious evening in March, but it's so good to relive it in all of it's decadent and hedonistic glory.
There are some exciting times ahead for Chapel Lane, and a lot of fabulousness in the pipeline, but this event holds the most special of places in my heart. It was so much fun; relaxed and informal yet completely rock and roll at the same time, and above all oh so intimate. I'll never forget looking down the long banquet table in my humble back yard, and seeing the smiling faces of some of my nearest and dearest chatting, feasting and laughing above the candle light and beneath the stars.
For me it was the embodiment of my vision for Chapel Lane, a place where people can collaborate and create experiences that are quirky, generous and 100% personal. Be gone hotel function rooms and stuffy cookie cutter events! You are banished forevermore. There's a new chick in town and she knows how to throw a party.
Celebrate by HOORAY! is the latest publication brought to you by the same party enthusiasts behind HOORAY! magazine. Celebrate by HOORAY! Volume 1 is the first of an annually released curated collection of the best gatherings from around the world - and boy are we thrilled to be a part of it.
Enjoy! Have a fabulous week.
HOORAY! is stocked in newsagents Australia wide as we as all major international and domestic airports, and in various retailers across NZ, UK, Asia, USA and Canada.
words by Jenna Harfield
There’s something incredibly satisfying when you learn of someone’s deserved success, but you can’t help but get a double dose of the warm and fuzzies when that someone is a dear old friend. I have known John Chantarasak for a lifetime. I have photos of us in a school line up from the age of five, bright-eyed and snotty nosed (or pig tailed in my case), unaware of what adventures lay ahead. For John, those adventures have taken a culinary twist it seems and he is creating some serious waves in the London food scene, having recently been shortlisted for the chef of the year at the Young British Foodie Awards. Working at Andy Oliver’s (UK Masterchef Finalist) som saa, an edgy London based pop-up restaurant at Climpson’s Arch, John specilaises in bringing colourful and authentic North-Eastern Thai cuisine to a crowd of hungry Londoners.
I caught up with John to congratulate him on his recent recognition and chat about his experience of the evolving London food scene.
Q. How did your journey with som saa begin?
A. Not too long ago I spent a year living and working in Bangkok. I was fortunate enough to spend some time in the kitchen at Nahm (San Pellegrino Asia’s Best Restaurant 2014) where I met David Thompson and gained a wealth of new experiences in terms of Asian cookery. Upon my return to the UK I was put in touch with head chef/owner of som saa (Andy Oliver) who had previously worked with David in London. After some email exchanges Andy asked me to help with the opening of som saa at Climpson's Arch back in October last year.
Q. Why Thai cuisine? What inspired you to go in this culinary direction?
A. When I set out to train as a chef I always knew I loved exotic cuisines but felt that gaining a classical culinary background in French cuisine would be the most beneficial building blocks for a career. I enrolled with Le Cordon Bleu studying the Diploma de Cuisine but instead of studying in one of the more conventional French based schools I chose to take up my studies at the Bangkok campus. I became saturated with Thai food, from hitting the streets after class with Thai classmates to weekly dinners with my Thai family (I am half Thai) and then of course ending up in Thai kitchens, it was the cuisine that began to become my staple and I totally fell in love with the food.
Q. Where do you see food trends going in London, particularly with Thai cuisine?
A. Londoners (and the world for that matter) are becoming more and more enchanted by authentic foreign cuisines, and this can be seen in the diversity of restaurants that have opened in the capital over the past few years. At the moment there seems to be a trend in food cooked over charcoal and barbecue, from Smoking Goat to Berber & Q and of course som saa, people seem to be genuinely interested in this style of eating. In terms of Thai food I think the som saa pop-up has proven that people are interested in learning more about regional Thai dishes other than your typical green curry and pad Thai, and hopefully this interest will continue to grow.
Q. Tell me about working in a pop-up environment? How is it different to a more traditional restaurant space?
A. To sum it up in a word it would have to be “unconventional”. In terms of our set-up we work from a kitchen that’s built in a disused shipping container that has reclaimed fixtures and fittings using portable electric hobs and one oven. We are however blessed in terms of outdoor cooking space where we have double wood fired ovens and a huge adjustable grill section, these ovens and grills really dictate the bulk of our menu and there is rarely a dish on the menu that doesn’t have an element or ingredient that has been grilled or smoked. Front of house also experiences its own challenges in terms of the actual restaurant dining space. The archway we’ve been using for our residency is a functioning coffee roaster in the weekdays, so until around 4pm every week day there are people roasting coffee, packing bags with coffee beans and generally using the space for this function. Then come 4pm our main man (Tom George, General Manager) and his team completely transform the space into a 40 cover restaurant ready for first bums on seats at 6pm. It’s remarkable how they do it really given the time constraints and the amount of other tasks that need to be achieved in this one small window of time.
Q. How have the public embraced som saa, the style of food, service and the atmosphere?
A. The reaction has been nothing short of incredible. From day one we’ve been a massively bustling restaurant space with people willing to wait upwards of two hours just to be seated to experience the food. We have developed a very loyal following and it’s not surprising to see the same faces coming to the restaurant every weekend, that’s a truly humbling feeling. It’s also been great to see the number of expat Thai’s that have found their way to the archway and have returned time after time bringing more of their friends and family with them. It’s no easy feat to win over the Thai crowd and it proves that we’re cooking food that truly has authenticity. We’re received glowing reviews from pretty much every London based publication from The Metro to The London Evening Standard, who incidentally also included the main guys (Andy Oliver, Mark Dobbie and Tom George) in their list of 1000 most influential Londoners for 2015. The formidable Marina O’Loughlin of The Guardian surprised us all by awarding som saa 5/5 for food, only the second time ever for a restaurant and most recently we were bowled over by the reaction to our Crowdcube campaign in order to generate capital for a permanent restaurant site. We aimed to raise £550,000 over a 30-day period but instead smashed a whopping £700,000 in less than 72 hours and had to pull the plug on any more investment.
Q. When you’re cooking for friends at home what do you like to make and why?
A. I can probably count the amount of times I’ve cooked at home this past year on one hand. I know that’s terrible to say but when you spend upwards of 60 hours a week in a kitchen catering for hundreds cooking is the last thing on your mind when you get a precious day off here and there. Saying that I usually dip into Thai Food (David Thompson) every now and again to cook something I’ve never made before and generally further my knowledge. Other than that I cook big batches of lentil dhal at the beginning of a week and eat that for breakfast before work with breads and chutney, I much prefer that kind of eating to a bowl of cereal or toast.
Q. How can people incorporate Thai flavours into their cooking at home?
A. A really simple way is just by using gapi (shrimp paste). When used well it can add a lovey depth of flavour to dishes and adds an umami quality with its savoury saltiness. A good quality gapi roasted over charcoal in banana leaf will add another level of complexity to Thai curry paste or nam prik (chilli based hot sauce). Alternatively home cooks can use nam pla (fish sauce) to season dishes rather than salt, although be warned this stuff is strong! Also the typical flavours of lemongrass and kaffir lime leaf add a perfumed fragrance to dishes that most people will associate with Thailand. Oh and of course coconut cream is another ingredient that makes people think Thai food.
Q. Where are your favorite places to eat out at the moment?
A. That's a hard one as I'm at the restaurant for dinner service most nights! But I love to eat out on my days off. I'd say the places I'm visiting most at the moment are Lyle's, Quality Chop House and Brunswick House. I quite like eating British cuisine when I'm not eating Thai. Something seasonal using local produce is always a winner in my books. I recently had a fantastic meal at Typing Room located in East London Town Hall Hotel. I really like the ambience Lee Westcott has created in this space and his cooking is beautiful, he’s fast becoming one of the best chefs in the country and for good reason.
Q. What excites or inspires you in the industry at the moment – any particular books / chefs / restaurants / ingredients?
A. The whole industry is a constant inspiration. I recently attended the YBF (Young British Foodie) Award’s at The Tate and it was just so inspiring to see the sheer amount of talent the UK holds from bakers, street food vendors, brewers, butchers and coffee baristas. There are so many people putting themselves out there creating produce of a remarkable quality and that’s great to see. I can still remember that not too long ago Britain was seen as a poor destination for food, but I genuinely feel that London has become one of the gastronomic hubs of the world. I love the food that James Lowe (Lyle’s) cooks and this was very recently acknowledged with Lyle’s winning it’s first Michelin Star. I’m also a big fan of the food at Taberna do Mercardo, the latest venture by Nuno Mendes of Chiltern Firehouse. It’s the first time I’d experienced food of this kind, the restaurant specializes in cooking dishes from Portugal where Nuno originates. Of course the biggest inspiration in terms of chefs is being able to work with Andy at som saa each week. He has an extraordinary wealth of knowledge when it comes to Thai food and I find his palate and ability to pin point seasonings and flavours second to none. It’s been a pleasure working alongside him for this past year.
If you want to see John in action at som saa you will have to be quick, as the residency at Climpson's Arch will end on Sunday 18th October 2015. Fear not, however, the restaurant will be opening its doors at a permanent site in early 2016.
For more foodie anecdotes follow Chef John Chantarasak on Instagram @englishhippy and Twitter @english_hippy.
The best thing about winter, in my humble opinion, is the chance to indulge in those oozy, braisey, roasty, earthy comfort foods that are plate-licking good and leave you feeling all toasty inside.
They don't have to be ridiculously calorific to be tasty either. There are so many fabulous vegetables to choose from at this time of year in the most gorgeous rich colours. I love seeing them piled up at the market in all of their deep purple, orange, red and green glory! There is something very motherly and Maggie Beer-ish about cooking at this time of year and that suits us perfectly.
Here are a few recipes that can be thrown together for a quick(ish) mid-week meal to warm and nourish the soul.
Love CL x
Clockwise from top right: Donna Hay Crispy Salmon with Wilted Greens, Yotam Ottolenghi Mushroom and Herb Polenta, Jamie Oliver 30 Minute Meals Roasted Tomato Soup, Neil Perry Braised Chicken in Thyme.
All recipes can be found on the Chapel Lane Pinterest page
CURATED BY JENNA HARFIELD
Ah, the good old wish list - we all have one, whether it's in your head or actually on paper - that collection of items, treats or experiences that we covet, dream about, save for, lust after and HAVE to have! Maybe your wish list is modest and attainable or, if you're like me, it's mostly full of fabulous items that are probably destined to remain on paper rather than in your clutches. Either way, it's fun to dream and if you're stuck for shopping inspiration then here is a sneak peak of whats on my list at the moment.
Here's to treating yourself!
Have a lovely weekend.
Lately we've been doing a lot of thinking and work around personal branding. Whether you're starting up your own venture, working for a big global organisation or simply having an exchange with someone on the street - we're all trading off our own brand every single day.
As a bit of a stickler for design I spent a lot of time nurturing the essence of Chapel Lane. I knew, as a business, how I wanted to look, sound, feel and be perceived. I also have a great understanding of our strengths; the sort of work we love doing, the people we want to work with and the brands that share our vision and goals. I'm proud and humbled by the friends we have across the world, the creative and innovative individuals contributing to a whole range of colourful industries - who we can turn to for ideas and inspiration. Being a small business, however, you cannot hide behind a brand when the brand is YOU.
I read one of those cheesy quotes (you know the ones, written in brush lettering against a soft focus picture of the ocean ..) on a friend's instagram that said "surround yourself with people that reflect who you want to be and how you want to feel, energies are contagious". I thought it was a bit of a cop-out. Sure, its great to have fabulous people in your life, but there comes a time when you cannot rely on those around you, and the focus has to shift to yourself. Make sure that you reflect who you are and what you want to be.
I approach this in exactly the same way as I do a business - What are you offering to the world? What are your best qualities? How can you lead with those and make them clear to your audience/customers? It's a confronting process to go through, but probably the most essential step for anybody to take. It's not all about how you look, but more how you present. It's doing whatever it takes to ensure that all of the knowledge, expertise, creativity, humour - all of the good stuff radiates from every pore. But absolutely, a Chanel handbag helps, it always helps.
To be continued..
Growing up my parents used to say to my sister and I, that their aim was to provide us with a “basket full of memories” to take with us into adult life. This translated into a very magical childhood, filled with treasure hunts and surprises. Our toys would miraculously disappear and reappear around the house with a half eaten chocolate biscuit in their paw, and we even received tiny letters from the “flower fairies” - hidden in the garden for us to seek and find with relished awe. Needless to say the Elsby household was one where imagination and creativity thrived and I’m sure this parenting philosophy is the reason I am so drawn to the whimsical and fantastical even now.
When I was dreaming up Chapel Lane as a business I thought about this approach to life. I considered the kind of work I loved being a part of, the sort of events I loved to attend and, as a consumer, the sort of brands that I admired. I kept coming back to the same core principles of enjoyment, colour, creativity, fantasy, style and delight. Hedonistic? quite possibly, but engaging and entertaining – hell yeah. I knew I wanted to create experiences that were thoughtful, generous, unexpected, authentic and enjoyable.
Considering these principles in a commercial context can certainly beg the question – “how does this translate into a business?” This week I attended an interesting discussion as part of the Vivid Ideas Exchange at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Overlooking the gorgeous backdrop of the Sydney harbour, on a bright but chilly Monday afternoon, I was heartened to hear respected industry experts, known academics and specialists in the field, reassure me that my approach was a sound one. Ha! Shove that up your hypercritical pipe and smoke it nonbelievers! I smiled to myself as I listened to conversations about the power of emotional marketing and trust. My ears pricked up at the mention of the importance of narrative and storytelling in marketing, where the customer comes first and the product comes second.
The take-away sentiment from the two-hour discussion was, in a sort of Field of Dreams sense, “if you build it, he will come”. If you focus on creating a brand/service/product that is engaging, emotive and relevant rather than chasing profits, only then will success follow.
It always amuses me when in marketing we talk about the “customer” as this alien being, this otherworldly foreigner who takes hours of analysis and millions of dollars to truly understand. Am I missing a trick? Aren’t we all the customer? Create something that you love, and surely others will too. Well, that’s my aim at least and I have built a life based on emotion and imagination so why can’t I build a business on the same foundations.
Here’s to a delightful long weekend, whatever you are doing.
Sat indoors on this dreary Friday afternoon, I’m daydreaming of winter weddings. It could be because I have a very special wintery wedding of my own to attend in the not so distant future (as a bridesmaid, not a bride), but there’s something about them that just gets me going.
Being a naturally cold-climate dwelling mammal, reigning from rural South Wales in the eternally “nippy” United Kingdom, it’s a time of year I feel rather comfortable in. The colours, the food, the clothes, the boots, the jackets, the textures… I could go on. To then combine all of that in it’s decadent, rich and sumptuous glory in a wedding scenario – to me, is a marriage (excuse the pun) made in heaven.
The costs for venues are usually lower and you can take your pick out of the best products and suppliers compared to the jam-packed, bridezilla-gonna-smack-you-down-to-get-the-last-imported-Vera-Wang summer season. I also think it takes the sting out of the whole “is it going to rain on my wedding day, what about my hair!?” scenario as people are primed to expect chillier weather. It’s a win win.
There is a classic old-world charm and inherent romance to the backdrop of a winter wedding. The flickering candlelight, (faux) fur stoles, guests snuggling under blankets, all remind me of an old black and white movie where those couples break out into spontaneous song about their love and everybody around them joins in to the merry tune… ah those were the days!
But back to reality, there is so much creative scope outside of a spring/summer wedding and here at Chapel Lane we’re excited to see what this chilly season brings.
Have a warm and cosy weekend.
After a great meal with friends, and a few too many wines, I love to pose two questions to the group: 1) if you were to make a film about your life, who would you cast in all the major parts? and 2) who would you invite to your fantasy dinner party? They are oldies, but they're goodies and never fail to provoke a hilarious, at times weird, but always interesting conversation.
My fantasy guest-list does tend to change every time I’m asked the question - some would say I’m fickle, I would answer that I’m merely “dynamic” in my opinions. Either way, here’s who I would currently be polishing the silverware for:
1. Jamie Oliver (also know as “plan b” in my house – I just love him)
2. Prince William and
3. Kate “the Duchess” Middleton aka the Cambridge’s
4. Graham Norton
5. Billy Connelly
6. Lena Dunham (for the sheer wit and shock value, I’d sit her next to my rather conservative husband and just enjoy the show)
7. Julia Child (or maybe Meryl Streep dressed as Julia Child… can’t decide)
8. Nora Ephron (American journalist, playwright, screenwriter, novelist – the list goes on. Also responsible for some of the greatest feel-good movies of all time, When Harry Met Sally, Sleepless in Seattle, You’ve Got Mail)
Now, it may not be the most high-brow, Nobel Prize winning, fancy-schmantzy guest list there ever was – but there would be a lot of laughs and it would be a great party, that’s for sure. Plus, if things don’t work out in the kitchen I can call on Mr Oliver to roll-up his sleeves, so it’s a win-win really.
If you want to waste an idle hour on your commute home this evening, have a think about who’s on your list. That way, at your next social gathering, when someone (like me) comes out with the old clichéd question, you’ve already got it down pat. You’re welcome.
Have a great weekend.
This Sunday will be my thirtieth mothers day as a daughter and my second as a mother, how lucky am I?
Truth be told, we never celebrated the occasion much growing up – save for the obligatory home-made card and half-spilt breakfast in bed, carried up the stairs with my sister amongst stifled giggles. My mum, the most self-sacrificing woman I know, somehow managed to make even that day more about us. It became less about celebrating her, but rather our artistic achievements in creating a shrine to honour our garish creations.
Maybe it’s with getting older, or maybe it's in becoming a mother myself – but I have never loved or needed my mum more. She, as all mothers should be, is my best friend, my confidante, my biggest fan and my harshest critic. She is the eternal hostess and homemaker, and I owe all my fusspot, attention to detail, love for design and nesting instincts to her.
Whatever your traditions are to mark this day, may I suggest it starts with a simple – I love you, thank you and a hug… and then maybe breakfast, mums love breakfast.
Here is a simple but decadent breakfast idea from British food blogger and culinary genius, Izy Hossack from her celebrated Top With Cinnamon site - which I follow religiously with a smile and a rumbling tummy.
Enjoy this special weekend.
When you go to a party, whether it is of the casual dinner variety or something that requires lipstick and heels – for us music is the essential factor.
There is little more jarring then going to a restaurant that has totally mis-matched the music to the dining experience (think say, Death Metal over crab linguine….) or even worst, has no background music at all. I have a favourite little Japanese near where I live, I love going there to eat, but I’m afraid to say it is what you call BYO atmosphere. It has everything you would want, friendly staff, authentic food, great wine list but no buzz and no music! All you can hear are the hushed conversations of other diners, too frightened to let out a cough or God forbid laughter, due to the deafening silence that hangs in the air.
That said, whenever I have friends over for dinner, or even a simple quiet Sunday brunch at home, I pay close attention to what’s playing in the background to set the tone. You cannot just whack the old iPhone on shuffle and hope for the best. Your mates don’t need to hear your best 80’s movie soundtrack/gym motivators when they pop round for Sunday beers, just as the in-laws most likely won't appreciate Nicky Minaj’s “Anaconda” over dinner - even if it’s on there purely for the irony. I am not ashamed to say I have a few “Dinner Party” play lists on my iPhone that are tried and tested favourites to avoid the iPhone shuffle misfire.
To celebrate the launch of Chapel Lane, a few months back, we had a beautiful outdoor dinner party. Autumn had only just arrived, so the evenings were still just warm enough to dine under the stars and we took full advantage. I’m still listening to the playlist from that night, and even as I sit at my desk with winter fast approaching, the songs take me right back to that fabulous evening.
Here is a sample to add to your own dinner party collection, or to simply start the slow warm up for the weekend ahead.
Happy Listening! Jenna X
Jazz et the vert – Souleance
La Vie En Rose – Daniela Andrade
Wicked Game – Bossasonic
Love Will Tear Us Apart – Nouvelle Vague
Feather – Little Dragon
Is This How You Feel? – The Preatures
Once Around the Block – Badly Drawn Boy
Fade Out Lines – The Avener
King of the Rodeo – The Bamboos
Since I Left You – The Avalanches
We love a Friday it has to be said and this one in particular is a beauty. Today we launch chapel-lane.com, the home of Chapel Lane and a place to share insights into the work we do, the people we collaborate with and the hundreds of things, great and small, that inspire us each day.
Put the kettle on and have yourself a little wander around Chapel Lane this afternoon. We appreciate you paying us a visit, and we look forward to sharing our world with you in the weeks to come.
Have a fabulous weekend.