Q&A with Alexandra Stacey

French Family Food

We were delighted to work with Alexandra Stacey on her project which you can view here and follow her at French Family Food where she shares her love of seasonal French cooking. We thought it would be interesting to share a little Q&A about the project and the inspiration behind her beautifully curated instagram so keep scrolling to read more…

How did you find Humphrey Munson?

We had been looking for a kitchen designer for a little while, and had spent some time speaking to a number of leading kitchen companies in London, but we were struggling to find a company that really enthused us, or offered the bespoke and attentive approach we were after.

I approached Verity Coleman who runs interior design studio Rascals & Roses, and someone I have followed on Instagram for many years, and she immediately suggested we speak to Louisa Eggleston, Creative Director at H|M, as several of her clients had spoken so highly of Humphrey Munson’s work.

It was such a relief to find a company that offered such incredibly high quality craftsmanship combined with a wonderfully friendly and attentive approach. The whole project was a joy from start to finish.

What was your original brief for the project in terms of the kitchen/ dining/ home office and utility room?

We had a very clear idea of what we wanted the space to look like. Several years ago we spent a long weekend in Stockholm and we loved the understated yet very elegant Swedish interiors that combine a discreet and calming colour palette, with warm oak and beautiful and original decorative pieces.

For years, we spoke of creating a kitchen that would have integrity and that would encapsulate that style and which would also be an elegant backdrop for some of the art and antiques that we have collected.

How was the room layout decided? Were there any major changes made to the space?

We made only modest changes to the layout of the kitchen, as it already worked well for us – we have two young children who use the kitchen as their main access into the garden so we wanted the uninterrupted flow from our hallway to remain much as it had been.

I also love having the kitchen sinks overlooking the garden. However, Humphrey Munson designed the new chimney and beautiful mantlepiece for the Lacanche range cooker at the far end of the kitchen, which gives the room a lovely focal point. We changed the layout of the utility room so that we could incorporate a new wine cooler and the open shelving to give a sense of space.

The overall look and feel of the space is just so calm and welcoming, which area do you and the family particularly enjoy now the project is complete?

Thank you! We are so thrilled with the kitchen as it is all that we dreamed of. It is a very serene space, which is truly the beating heart of our home. We spend a lot of time sitting at the Hans Wegner dining table- the kids come home from school and do their homework at the table, we love to sit here at the weekends enjoying long lazy breakfasts and we have had fantastic multigenerational family gatherings around this table.

We also love the seating area beside the beautiful Humphrey Munson glazed dresser. We sit there in the evenings with a glass of wine and some music on in the background, it is incredibly relaxing.

Can you share any advice or tips for anyone else embarking on a similar project?

Planning our new kitchen was a hugely rewarding and enjoyable experience. We definitely spent a lot of time researching styles and designs, and fine-tuning what we really wanted in a kitchen. Think about what works for you as a family, how you use the space, what you would be prepared to change.

Lighting is also an incredibly important consideration – it can enhance and enrich the way you experience your kitchen in so many ways. We were extremely grateful to Louisa for putting us in touch with a lighting consultant who produced a wonderful lighting scheme that discreetly highlighted the artwork in the kitchen, while also creating a warm and elegant atmosphere in the evenings.

We absolutely love your Instagram @frenchfamilyfood, when did your passion for cooking begin?

Thank you so much! I grew up near Paris and from a really early age, I loved helping my mum and grandma in the kitchen. One of my very earliest memories was of tasting homemade mayonnaise on a tiny piece of baguette.

When I was ten, I wanted to open a restaurant with one of my school friends but ended up studying History at university and working in Arts PR for many years in London.

I never lost my passion for food and cooking, and when our children were born, all the memories of my childhood meals came flooding back, and this prompted me to start posting about French family food.

What continues to inspire you to create new dishes? Is there anything you particularly love to cook?

I am always inspired by seasonal produce. I have a weekly delivery of organic fruit and vegetables from Abel & Cole and I love to create dishes from this beautiful and tasty organic produce. Cooking with the seasons reminds me of my French childhood as we would often visit our local food market on a Saturday morning, and we always came home with fantastic seasonal ingredients such as fabulous girolles mushrooms in the autumn, or wonderfully scented and refreshing Charentais melons in the hot summer months.

How are you finding cooking for the family during lockdown? Can you offer any cooking tips or ideas for people struggling to stay inspired right now.

I can’t deny that cooking for the family in lockdown is rather challenging as there are so many meals to prepare! I’m trying to get ahead by making lovely healthy soups such as Carrot and Onion or Butternut Squash and Sage, which we can eat with big chunks of buttered bread.

We have recently discovered a fantastic bread recipe which is super easy to make and absolutely delicious. Also keep meals simple by making colourful salads to have with cold meat or cheese. I love using a really good quality olive oil in my salad dressings. We have also been growing our own herbs such as thyme, chives and fennel and they add such lovely flavour to our meals.