I met chef and event designer, Olivia Muniak near the end of the pandemic at a dinner overlooking one of L.A.’s epic canyons. Olivia has a talent for creating beautiful environments filled with ease and whipping up everything I dream of eating without a fuss. It brings to mind the now infamous meme fodder, “Just like that effortless look, you know? But it’s really a lot of effort.”
Like most effortless-seeming things, Olivia’s signature “lazy-fancy entertaining” style has been well-honed after years of kitchen and event experience. We’re taking full advantage of her insights and style choices to bring you this fun guide to entertaining according to Olivia. Don’t miss out on her charming new ceramics line that’s just made for our readers!
In The Kitchen With Olivia Muniak
style in 3 words: Lazy-fancy entertaining. A relaxed, yet elegant style.
How do you take your coffee or matcha? Coffee in the morning with homemade almond milk and coconut blossom sugar, afternoon matcha with the same. Sometimes I blend in Erewhon Raw Coconut Milk or blend in adaptogens based on my mood.
Daily breakfast: I skip breakfast most days.
Dream breakfast: I love breakfast pastries like my homemade scones, or a Clark Street Bakery croissant or pain aux raisins. For a full brunch: soft boiled eggs and sourdough toast.
Uniform lately: My forever uniform of vintage Levi’s, white t-shirt and loafers.
Favorite event hosted or client lately? I recently launched my tableware collection with events both in Los Angeles and New York. They were unique to each city and I was overjoyed to unveil it in both my home “towns”.
Fave room at home lately—what makes it work? I purchased a new home this summer and I’m still settling in and planning renovations. I like living in a space before renovating it so I can be smart about design and functionality, it will be crazy living and working in a construction zone so my bedroom which has an alcove with French doors to the garden has been my sanctuary through the mess of moving.
Entertaining trend I’m loving lately: Maximalism. For years I think entertaining was thought of as something we did for holidays and with so many brands launching tableware collections as an extension of their lifestyle brands I’ve loved seeing people taking to entertaining. As an event designer, more is more, and it’s fun to lean into an aesthetic to make a meal or gathering feel more special and exciting.
Favorite florist: Sophia Moreno-Bunge at Isa Isa.
3 staples always in my pantry: Olive oil, flaky sea salt, parmigiano reggiano ( my house is never without!).
My 3 go-to pieces of entertaining advice…
+ Do as much as you can in the two days before hosting: Style the house, grocery shop, and make the dessert.
+ Morning of your party: Cook everything that can be served room temperature. For anything that needs to be served hot set aside every ingredient you’ll need so you can easily cook when guests are there.
+ Build in cocktail hour with guests: It’s always a bit awkward when guests arrive and you’re stuck in the kitchen. I like to sit down with my guests, enjoy a drink with them while more people trickle in. This way I can step away from them after they’ve settled into the party.
Hack for dressing a gorgeous table: The basics go a long way, but start with Olivia Muniak Collection dishes and linen napkins, then a mix of taper candles and votives (this helps make the table look very full) and finish with seasonal foliage. I rarely use fresh-cut flowers at home because I like the un-fussiness of foliage, and I so often use them for events. It’s easy to find interesting looking foliage right outside the door or at your local flower shop for a fraction of the price of a floral centerpiece.
Hack for hosting in style/sanity: First, doing all the shopping and styling in the days leading up to the party is my M.O. (flower or candle in the bathroom, pulling out serving pieces, setting up the bar with glassware, styling the table, checking off my grocery list to the recipes). Then I tackle the cooking in the early afternoon, so I have a small window to chill and “look effortless” before guests arrive. I throw on a chic casual dress—a slip dress or something with a print (that hides any cooking splatter), minimal make-up and jewelry—file it all under “lazy-fancy”.
Lately, I’m getting inspiration from… My work requires so much creativity from design to problem solving at a fast pace for our events, as well as running a team. So I need time for “creative puttering”. I’ve been buying print magazines and making analog mood boards for both my house and collection, and going through old coffee table books.