Besides being able to pillage her collection as often as we can, we’re fully aware we are some of the luckiest daughters around. That’s why this week, in anticipation of Mother’s Day, we all went to Bergdorf Goodman (where Monica Rich Kosann has its own shop-in-shop), for some T & T (tea and trinkets) with our mom.
What's your ideal food day?
Monica Rich Kosann: I look forward to my cup of coffee every morning. I’d walk to Central Park with my husband and our dog and get a chocolate croissant at Le Pain Quotidien. Or, I would go to Paris for a chocolate croissant and cafe creme.
For lunch, I’d have the lobster salad at Bergdorf Goodman. Sometime in the afternoon, I would have to have a piece of chocolate of some kind. For dinner, I would probably just want to cook at home with you girls! I’d make a roast chicken, broccoli rabe, and sweet potato fries. I cut the sweet potato up into strips and roast them in the oven with olive oil, salt, and pepper. And, a nice Chardonnay. And, maybe a bag of Cape Cod potato chips somewhere in there.
How do you age gracefully?
My mom is European, and basically used the same few products her entire life, which I tend to do as well. I think a small part of it is genetic and how you learn to take care of your skin, but so much of it is about attitude — not being afraid to get old and not taking life too seriously. It’s so much about being comfortable in your own skin — with a little help from Sisley, Estée Lauder, and Lancôme.
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I’m a pretty healthy eater, save for the occasional potato chip, French fry, or candy bar. I happen to love vegetables naturally, so that’s a good thing, and I definitely eat a ton. I also drink a lot of water, which I think really helps. One thing I love is bread. Bread and butter never hurt anybody, you know? It’s all of the other stuff we put on it — mayonnaise and anything processed. That’s what isn’t good for you. If you just eat fresh, homemade bread, it’s great. Everything in moderation, which is what I’ve always told you. If I have a craving for a donut or a piece of cake, I don’t ever deprive myself.
How do you deal with working constantly?
I grew up in a family business, and obviously now I’m in a family business. And, you girls are in a family business! It can be hard because it’s a 24/7 type of world — you have to learn to know when it’s about business and when it’s not. Overall, it’s really great. You get to spend time together and enjoy your successes together.
How did you teach us to eat well?
We always cooked together. Food was always such an important part of our lives. Your grandmother was a big influence in that. I grew up cooking all of this Austrian food with her — Apple Strudel, Wienerschnitzel — so, then I would make it with you girls. We always used to cook and bake. I also always made things fresh for you whenever I could when you were little. I would literally take steak and grind it in a meat grinder so I knew where your ground beef was coming from!
Laura loved to make her "famous fruit salad." She would always make it alongside me no matter what I was making. She’d cut up every piece of fruit in the kitchen, whether it was ripe or rotten, and then pour tons of applesauce and cinnamon over it. And then we would all go, “Mmmmm…that’s so tasty…” [Laughs]. Danielle just loved pizza more than anything. She would go to someone's birthday party and literally eat an entire pie.
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I never go to a dinner party empty-handed. I usually bring either a candle or a bottle of wine. Sometimes, I’ll even buy a small pack of stationery. I love to entertain. I always have fresh flowers on my table, and I always try to make the table setting interesting. I’ll bring my vintage pieces and use them for unexpected things. I’ll use creamers to hold flowers, bowls to hold candles. I put out lots of appetizers for when people walk in, and will always make one featured drink of some kind. One of my favorite things to make when I entertain is a carrot-and-ginger soup from the Silver Palate Cookbook. I love to make Chicken Marbella — it’s a good party dish. If it’s barbecue season, I’ll barbecue butterflied leg of lamb. I let it sit for hours in red wine and rosemary — sometimes, I put in a little teriyaki or Worcestershire sauce to give it a little zing. I always have bread at the table. I love bread, as I mentioned; I think it goes back to my European roots.
What's your personal style like?
I’m pretty classic; I like my clothing to show off my jewelry. I love fashion, and I like to mix things. I’ll usually take special pieces — from a designer like Proenza Schouler or Celine — and just pair them with white jeans, or black cigarette pants, to keep them classic and "me". I love jewelry, of course. I just love when a woman makes jewelry her own; it should always tell her story. I get very inspired by people from the past, like the Duchess of Windsor and Jackie Onassis. The Duchess of Windsor had so many special, one-of-a-kind pieces that were just made for her. And Jackie O always made jewelry very personal. It always told her story. And obviously, you know I’m obsessed with lockets! Every woman should wear a locket — the same way she wears a watch. You don’t even have to have a photo in it — it can be a great quote to keep you motivated.
How did you deal with planning your daughter's wedding?
Keep calm and carry on. I think that applies to pretty much everything, actually.
Monica Rich Kosann, photographed by Danielle Kosann at BG restaurant. Monica wears Chloe pants and top, and Monica Rich Kosann jewelry.
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On a quest for the next big thing in the food industry, sisters Danielle and Laura Kosann have begun the journey with The New Potato. Profiling chefs, restauranteurs, and celebrities alike with cuisine questionnaires, the world of dining has reached a whole new level of delish.