She started her own handbag label (a cult favorite)
Kendall Conrad Design, while pregnant with her first daughter Luisa, now 13. And she wrote a cookbook, Eat Well, Feel Well, based on a diet that she found to help with her second daughter Fanny’s digestive issues. But to those who’ve been lucky enough to see her in action at home—from game night, to a bistro-themed 13th birthday party, to an impromptu lunch for four, it’s clear that she’s an unflappable master of entertaining.
We asked her to give us some pointers—since she certainly has a ton of ideas, and has figured out a lot of shortcuts. This is a woman who feels totally comfortable winging it, not following recipes all the way, and is able to come up with charming/fun themes, and meals that don’t require that she be in the kitchen while her guests are in the living room.
Easiest entertaining recipe? Coq au vin. It’s a one-pot wonder. You can make it the day before.
How did you learn to cook? I really don’t follow recipes, or at least not 100 percent. I wing it if I don’t have some of the ingredients. I’m pretty much self- taught, but I was totally into the Galloping Gourmet as a kid, and now I like the cooking shows of Jaime Oliver and Ina Garten.
Tell us about this amazing salad you made: Well, if you lived here you’d be sick of it because this is what I make for everyone for lunch. It’s just a salad compose, which is basically a layered salad. I made this in the morning, and was able to come back and dress and toss it, and it was ready to go. I have probably 10 variations on it, and use whatever I have in the refrigerator.
Lunch strategies for the girls? A big batch of pasta or soup to last the week. Or, I line up a sandwich station and have the girls pick and choose and help make their own.
Low-fuss entertaining: We love a game night! When the mood strikes, we invite other families and friends for a game night and set up stations all over the house with favorite games for all ages—Poker, Password, Apples to Apples, Who, What, Where? Balderdash, Catchphrase, and Charades. It can get very heated. In the warmer months, we entertain outside, down by our creek with a roaring fire and lots of candles. I always cook and usually there is a theme to it—Middle Eastern, Moroccan, Indian, Asian.
Tell us about movie night at home: Fanny makes tickets to stamp, Luisa makes popcorn and we watch great movies. We love the classics: Citizen Kane, Some Like it Hot, any Preston Sturges, and of course, Waiting for Guffman.
Lazy-day family ritual: A beach walk with our wire-haired dachshunds. In the summer we pretty much live at the beach … we go for the day with plenty of food, books, surfboards, and boogie boards.
What’s your ‘uniform’? Jeans, boots, and ponchos, in black, charcoal, or brown, with a Vaquera leather cuff, a black Nº26 bag, and flat black boots by Sartore.
A fail-safe beauty product you love? Strange Invisible Perfumes.They’re all organic and pure. My elder daughter uses them, too. Out favorites are Tallulah, Creative Nutrients, and 100% Pure.
You have a very cool photography/inspiration blog, and your girls have an online magazine called Sis? Yes, Luisa and Fanny just got this idea in their heads and went for it. I occasionally act as a photo assistant for them. They take their own pictures and do interviews of women that inspire them.
(Fanny, above, now 10, and Luisa, below)
What’s on your playlist?
Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked, Cage the Elephant
All Around and Away We Go, Twin Sister
Always Loved a Film, Underworld
Another World, The Chemical Brothers
Bang Bang Bang, Mark Ronson & The Business Intl.
Black & Gold, Sam Sparro
Fire Age, Rubik
Getting Down, The Kills
I Am Not a Robot, Marina & The Diamonds
It’s Working, MGMT
Not Gonna Get Us T.A.T.U.
Pyjamarama, Roxy Music
Skin Tight, Scissor Sisters