With Château Owner and Chef Suzie Jackson

As we cosy into the cold-weather season, it feels natural to contemplate warm dinners around the table with our loved ones, à la française of course. Which brings us back to one of our préféré chapters in our Château Life adventure— The French Table and there’s no one better to discuss this topic with than expert hostess, Suzie Jackson. 

“Château de la Carrière is the perfect place to experience château life.” 

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The Melbourne native is well-versed in the art of the French table as owner and chef of Château de la Carrière. In her personally renovated home just an hour outside of Paris, Suzie hosts and caters for guests from all over the world through a number of events, including the Blue Illusion exclusive French Experiences.  

For an insider’s perspective on creating a French-inspired table at home, we spoke to Suzie about how she imbues this art de vivre into her life at the château. 

Picture: Château de la Carrière

The French Table

In France, eating is more than a simple act of nourishing the body with nutrition. It’s also a practice of nurturing the spirit with time spent around a beautifully set table with friends and loved ones, eating food prepared with care and admiration for the art of cooking. 

Suzie has perfected this art. A self-taught chef and previous restaurant owner, she infuses joyful touches of Antipodean charm into her French-inspired dishes and table settings with the help of Château de la Carrière stylist, French native and Australian hospitality specialist Sophie Thé.  

Picture: Table setting at the Château de la Carrière

La Nourriture

The French are known for valuing locally grown produce and crafting seasonally considered meals and Suzie delights in this ritual by using produce from local farms and her abundant potager where she grows much of the food used in her dishes, from baked goods to fresh salads.  

“We’re growing just about everything that you can think of,” she tells us, “We have tomatoes, lettuces, beans, fruit trees, all sorts of herbs, and the most beautiful raspberries.” The list goes on. 

“To have no end of produce is like having your very own market at the end of your garden.”  

Suzie utilises these fresh ingredients in the meals she prepares during the French Experiences. From fruit tarts, to savoury velouté, spring-inspired pastas, and more, her culinary creations always consider the moment, infusing artistry and passion into every course.    

Suzie’s pro tip: Work with what you have locally. Consider incorporating beautiful colours and shapes into your dishes. It doesn’t have to look perfect, just intentional. The most important thing is to give yourself enough time and have fun.  

La Table

“We make an effort to make each meal unique, and that includes the table.”

Suzie’s château experiences are also famous for their fabulous table settings. Whether at the dining table in the chapel, the château, or overlooking the garden, freshly picked flowers or other natural elements will always feature in the tablescapes created by Sophie.  

“Our cutting garden is full of the most amazing flowers. So, we get to fill the château, the guest’s rooms, and our tables with as many flowers as you could possibly want. It’s an absolute joy!” 

Glassware, place settings, and napkins are always carefully arranged to highlight a particular season or celebration, each setting is unique. While this is a curated aspect of dining at the château, Suzie tells us that it’s also an authentic part of the French table experience.  

"Creating beautiful table settings is a cherished part of French dining culture, often practised not only in restaurants but also within the home." 

Suzie and Sophie source many of their spectacular glass and tableware from the local brocantes. During French Experiences, guests can join Suzie in scavenging through the brocantes for the parfait treasure to add to their own French-inspired table at home.  

Suzie’s pro tip:

Start with a colour pallet and go from there. It’s okay if your plates don’t match. As long as they share a common feature or colour, you can tie them together by placing napkins on the plate with some ornamentation, like a sprig of rosemary and a slice of dried fruit, whatever feels right for that moment!   

Don’t be afraid to use decorations you already have – little vases down the middle of the table always look great, or a collection of white china. Once you start to look, you’ll be surprised at how many things you can use to create a table! 

Picture: Renovated sitting area of Château de la Carrière showcasing Art Deco themed furniture

Merci beaucoup, Suzie for sharing your insights and life at the château with us. We look forward to catching up during the upcoming French Experience in May. Jusqu'en mai, bisous! 

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