I came by my culinary skills in the most traditional way possible: in my Midwestern childhood kitchen. The women in my family were not only talented bakers and cooks, but also accomplished hostesses who took pride in making everything look divine and taste delicious. Entertaining was an art, and I was lucky enough to learn from true masters. After college, I relocated to Los Angeles, where I spent 10 years as a Hollywood executive. But ultimately, I was inspired to return to the entertainment niche I like most of all: the kind enjoyed around a bountiful buffet table.

Full disclosure: I don’t have a culinary degree or any kind of formal restaurant training, just a genuine appreciation for great food and a gorgeously laid table. In addition to my love for creating magic in the kitchen, I have a passion for collecting that has spanned more than two decades. In this book, I’ve featured some of my favorite food-centric treasures, including antique hand-painted china, Victorian silver, vintage embroidered linens and etched glassware. But you’ll also catch glimpses of other rare collectibles I’ve woven into various celebratory themes. Wherever possible, I’ve shared information on these pieces’ colorful histories.

All that said, as you’re feasting your eyes upon these sumptuous place settings and floral arrangements, I hope you’ll remember that the recipes in this book will be every bit as delicious if you don’t happen to have a Victorian powdered sugar sifter, or any of the other decorative items pictured. There’s nothing in here that requires advanced cooking skills to make, or an advanced palate to enjoy. Welcome to Honeysuckle Hill is dedicated to my VERY favorite pairing: full bellies and warm hearts.

Please contact me at gwen@honeysucklehillbook.com