Maman is the kind of place a New Yorker might call ‘elusive’ - a destination that offers delectable baked goods, scrumptious meals, and aromatic coffees in a supremely stylish setting is hard to find. Locating one that also feels warm, comforting, and thoroughly welcoming? That’s almost impossible. But that is exactly what you will discover at Maman, and it’s not uncommon to spend hours amongst its signature white and blue palette, savoring the delights of good food, wonderful company, and invitingly chic ambiance. With its design-centric decor and a reputation for being a delicious 'home away from home', we just had to had to get the inside word from the woman responsible. Here, we delve into the world of Elisa Marshall - Owner, Creative Director, and sometime Dishwasher - to discover more about her inspiration, her influences, and her journey to creating Maman.
Describe your role at Maman - what does a typical day look like?
When you own your business, there is no one job title. I have never actually given myself one as it changes every day - from Owner & Creative Director to Waitress and Dishwasher. The fun part about my job is it is never the same, there is something new and exciting every day. It is far from a standard 9-to-5 routine. I am fortunate to have many 'offices' where I am able to work and hop around from location to location every week. My days range from emails to venue visits for events, meetings with brands for collaborations, tastings with the kitchen, and sometimes hopping into service if someone is sick or they need help. I like to make sure I can do every position in the company to better understand how we work, how we can improve things, and to see it from the perspective of my employees.
Why did you decide to open Maman?
Maman started with a dream, and stemmed from a combination of passions for Ben - my partner in life and business - and I. We were both doing so much of what we loved, from cooking and baking to marketing, interiors, and events, but wanted to combine all of our passions and energy under one roof. It was about doing something that combined everything we love, with the person we love. After spending time in NYC, we realized that there was nothing out there that spoke to us - the cafe and coffee scene was very trendy ‘hipster’, but what was lacking was a warm, welcoming environment with a homelike atmosphere. You could say we did it selfishly: for a beautiful and welcoming place to eat, drink, and gather with friends and family to entertain!
How did you discover your passion for food?
That started at a very young age growing up, and Maman (meaning mother in French) was the inspiration behind most of my culinary passion. I grew up in the kitchen with my mom and grandmother, loving to bake and decorate things. From cookies to themed holiday cakes we were always entertaining and making fun cakes for various occasions. Some of my best memories are with my mom in the kitchen!
What do you do to give back?
One of my favorite things to do is to teach people new skills and with Maman, I have so much opportunity to do so. Whether it’s a new employee learning how to make coffee, offering tips and tricks on hosting events, or a customer attending a baking or calligraphy workshop, I have learned and retained so much information along the way with my curiosity to learn. I am fortunate to use so much of it in creating Maman, so I hope that the one thing I may be able to teach a person will ignite a passion inside of them.
What is the greatest advice you have ever received?
I think my parents always pushed me to not follow the crowd - that it’s ok to take risks. Be unique, be different and don't do what everyone else is doing. Without that support, I would have never taken the risks to do many of the things I have done in my life, with the biggest being moving to NYC with nothing but a boy and a dream and starting this amazing project!
Who inspires you?
My mom, because she is the strongest most beautiful person I know and helped me get where I am today. And Martha Stewart of course!
How would you describe your personal style?
As I am usually running around and jumping from the kitchen to meetings, comfort is important to me along with versatility. My usual look ranges from casual jeans and a sweater, then it's all about accessories and a blazer to turn a comfy work look into something a little more special. A long necklace, great earrings, and a beautiful scarf can turn a casual 'running around' look into so much more.
What is your favorite piece from the AUrate collection?
This is a hard one, but I think I love the simplicity of the Mini Diamond Bar Pendant. It's statement enough with a great dress without being overwhelming, yet it's also simple enough to be a beautiful everyday piece.
What’s the one book everyone should read - and why?
'An Awesome Book' by Dallas Clayton. This book is my one staple, my inspiration, and I think everyone, every age should have it on their shelves.
Finally, apart from Maman, tell us about your favorite place in NYC??
The one place I would go and spend hours is ABC Home. I am always inspired and love to do nothing but walk floor to floor, then eat! It’s my favorite restaurant in NYC (apart from Maman of course!)