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Two years ago, when requests for recipes from fans of Maman’s French-inspired baked goods (Oprah Winfrey loves the nutty chocolate chip cookie—no big deal) became so insistent, the New York City–based café’s founders—Elisa Marshall and Ben Sormonte—decided it was finally time to write a cookbook, a longtime dream of Marshall’s. 

Photography by Linda Xiao

Then the stars oddly aligned. Just as recipe development for the book began, the country went into lockdown. “We found the silver lining and were fortunate it came at a time when we were forced to stay home, cook, bake, write, and eat,” explains Sormonte. 

Photography by Arianna Tettamanzi

Staying true to Maman’s signature style (think: soul-warming food served in charmingly rustic environments), the result feels like the on-paper equivalent of walking into one of the brand’s 10 cafés. In the pages you’ll find rough-hewn wood tables, collected vintage blue and white plates, milk-bottle vases, and ceramic bunnies scattered about. In other words, a French dream.


Maman: The Cookbook by Elisa Marshall and Benjamin Sormonte with Lauren Salkeld, Amazon ($18 was $30)

In the interest of Francophiles everywhere, we asked Marshall to share the pair’s go-to French kitchen essentials, from Dijon mustard to a multitasking spurtle. Here are her favorites. How do you say “You’re welcome” in French?

Triple Threat

Large Savon de Marseille Cube in Olive, Vivi Et Margo ($24)

As handwashing becomes increasingly important in the kitchen (especially these days), investing in beautiful soaps is a must in our household. Handmade from pure oils in the South of France (where Ben grew up), these soaps are a staple in most French households. My mother-in-law introduced me to them, and now I am addicted. I use them for handwashing and laundry stains—and they are even gentle enough for my baby’s bath!

Multiuse Wonder

Cherry Wood Spurtle, Mad Hungry ($45)

A variation on the traditional French wooden spoon, the spurtle is such a unique kitchen tool and saves tons of room in our drawers. It is a traditional spoon and spatula. It stirs, flips, scrapes, and spreads, and it’s made of natural acacia wood, which means it looks beautiful when sitting on the kitchen counter, too.

Double the Fun

Maman x Virginia Dare Dress Co. Floral Apron Set, Maman ($70)

As a lover of blue and white, and always being in the kitchen with my son, this matching Maman et Moi apron set is both functional and fashionable in French floral-inspired prints.


Honey, Honey

The Lunch Set Food Wraps, Made by Bees ($28)

I am constantly trying to live more sustainably and always looking for ways to eliminate single-use paper and plastic items in the kitchen. One of my new staples are these beeswax wraps. I always have a variety in my drawers, and I cut them in various size squares for wrapping everything from a lemon to leftover dinner. I have tried many brands, and this particular one is easy to use, super-durable, simple to clean, and of course beautiful—which is mandatory in my kitchen.

In the Bag


Filt French Net Market Bag, Food52 ($48)

For a quick run to the grocery store, a weekend market trip, or even organizing and storing produce in the fridge, we love using our French net bags. They are reusable, made from 100 percent knitted mesh cotton, and compactible; great to keep in your purse for those impromptu market visits.

Oui, Oui

metal rectangular tart pan with apples and plated tart
Gobel Rectangular Tart Pan, Amazon ($22)

A collection of tart pans in various shapes and sizes is an essential in any French kitchen. We love this rectangular version, as it has a removable bottom and is a great size for quiches, bars, and seasonal tarts, both sweet and savory. This particular one offers heavy-gauge tin and is made in France.

Great Taste

Pommery Meaux Mustard Stone Jar, Amazon ($15)

French Dijon mustard is always a staple in our home and used on a daily basis. From dressings to sauces, it is our ultimate secret ingredient that makes marinades easier and vinaigrettes creamier—and it even elevates pasta dishes. We love the Pommery brand specifically for its creamy texture and bold flavor.


Wine Time

Forge de Laguiole Corkscrew, Laguiole Imports ($239)

In the French kitchen, you cook a lot with wine—and sometimes you even add it to the food, too. You don’t need a fancy utensil to open a bottle; a classic corkscrew will do the trick, but for a splurge, and as a beautiful gift, we love the Laguiole corkscrew.

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