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Over the weekend I watched a PBS show with the elegant and revered James Beard award winning chef Cecilia Chiang of the most famous Chinese food restaurant in San Francisco history, The Mandarin. Oh and did I mention she was 97? There are so many things that drew me in about her story. Her background, her journey to the United States, and her sheer tenacity and bravery. Ms. Chiang was born near Shanghai to an aristocratic family and lived in a 52 room mansion. During the Japanese occupation she was forced out and escaped with her sister. Eventually settling in Tokyo she made a trip to San Francisco to visit a relative and never left.
Cecilia wanted to introduce non-Chinese Americans to her cuisine as well as improve upon the lackluster decor and ambiance seen in most Chinese food restaurants. She wanted to create a space that was opulent and luxurious with great lighting like the temples in China and palaces she grew up in.
Menus via Ruth Reichl
Here is her first location. The restaurant was at first unsuccessful and had few patrons. Slowly the restaurant became more popular and began to attract loyal customers. Herb Caen began writing about the restaurant in his column.
In 1968 Ms. Chiang opened her famed 300 seat Mandarin Restaurant in Ghirardelli Square which required a multimillion dollar investment. She said in the interview on PBS that she designed much of the restaurant and loved McGuire furniture. She would entertain VIP's from Presidents to Rock Stars wearing her fancy gowns. Not only was the place stunning she wanted people to really taste true Chinese food. Later a Beverly Hills location was opened. She sold her restaurant in 1991 and it closed in 2006. I would have loved to visit her restaurant. I bet it was full of beautiful Chinese screens and Chinese art. Such a strong, intelligent, and elegant woman making her mark in this world. Being a chef and female business owner at that time was no easy feat.
I can't wait to watch her documentary "Soul of a Banquet" by filmmaker Wayne Wang.
Here is it is...Kari's beautiful work "The Balancing Point" featuring our desk and so many gorgeous vintage pieces! So exciting to see where our pieces end up.
I love to have a big Easter egg hunt every year. Its the perfect time to get your home summer ready after all the rains and cold of winter. Nothing makes you hustle like having a house full of people. Time for some touch-up paint, freshening up your flowers and mulch, and cleaning and sprucing the patio furniture.
Here in Northern California we pretty much can dine outdoors 8-9 months out of the year. I want my outdoor spaces to be an extension of my home. I added some of my favorite designers homes for inspiration and some of my favorite picks for outdoor furniture and accessories. Happy sprucing!
I love how Suzanne Kasler's home in Atlanta features a fireplace as the focal point with a vintage starburst mirror. This gives your outdoor space some personality and refinement. Photo via Architectural Digest by Pieter Estersohn.
This home perched over the ocean on the Greek island of Spetses has such a tranquil feel with the ocean as your color palette. I love the two refectory style tables together with simple metal folding chairs. The table in the background would make a perfect bar set-up or appetizer station. Photo via Architectural Digest by Richard Powers.
Nothing says summer like an outdoor farm table & hanging lanterns. Simple and perfect at the home of M. Night Shyamalan in Philadelphia. Photo via Architectural Digest by Eric Piasecki.
Refined casual at a Brazilian retreat. There's a perfect little shady nook in the back for a piece of art. Photo via Architectural Digest by Richard Sherman.
Nothing makes more a statement than some antique urns flanking your driveway or entry.
Shop the look with all my favorite picks below:
I love flanking the ends of an outdoor dining table with Peacock chairs.
These baskets make the best planters.
There's something about having a meal on a stone table. Chill some rose', invite some friends over, and share some laughs. What more do you need?
Shop all of our outdoor pieces here.
You've seen them. The lovely grain of those Milo Baughman burl consoles and dining tables. Those pieces that make you swoon. Did you ever wonder where all that burl came from?
Did you know that burl is actually a tree growth or a sign that a tree is under some form of stress? These burls are prized pieces of wood because they are so rare. There has even been a rise in burl poaching at National Parks across the United States.
Most burl growths occur near coast redwoods at the base of the tree. The wood itself is extremely hard to work with as its very dense and chips and shatters unpredictably.
Burls are removed, sliced into veneers and highly sought after by furniture makers, auto makers, and artists.
Not to be confused with bird's eye maple.
Its always fun to see what Pantone reveals as its color of the year. For 2017 they unveiled "Greenery". I love how designer Christian Siriano styled this entry for Elle Decor photographed by Alec Hemer. He just embraces color in this room and does it so effortlessly. Its so playful with the pop art and hints of bamboo. Of course velvet never goes out of style.