Flower Arranging

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I started to appreciate the art of flower arranging three or four years before I became a chef. It was during my very first job in New York City, that I came in contact with a very talented florist while working as an office manager for a blooming Dot Com.

My company operated from a spectacular high rise office located in the garment district that just happened to be very close to where many of the wholesale flower shops ship their delicate wares throughout Manhattan. Instead of spending extra money on your standard flower shop, I decided to go myself to a wholesale place to pick out a large bouquet every week and carry them to work to avoid the delivery fee.

So the following Monday, I wandered into a place owned by a beautiful Polish woman who had silky blond hair and a thick accent. Each week she put together some pretty exotic arrangements – far out stuff, because that’s what I wanted. Considering that the office culture was young and groovy, her arrangements certainly fit the bill, and the president of the company would compliment them daily.

After a few weeks, she and her assistant, a tall Mexican man who looked a lot like the singer Steve Perry (except that his two front teeth were capped in solid gold) would save special, unusual flowers for me.

Before I left one day, “Steve Perry of the Flowers” as I thought of him, gave me a single perfect rose, and flashed those golden teeth. Every week after, he gifted me a different, brightly colored rose, but never said a single word, not one peep during all the visits in an entire year. Just a smile and a rose, that said it all.

Later after the Dot Com crash, and many years passed, I stopped going to the flower shop and started to learn to make my own arrangements. My first private chef client wanted simple arrangements for the dining room table and living room.

So I took a flower arranging class with a real master to get the basics. So I don’t claim to be an expert by any means, but I still enjoy arranging and decorating table flowers – although I no longer private chef.

So in today’s post, I thought I’d share with you my easy tips for putting together something fresh and beautiful for your dining table.

Step 1

Picking out flowers is easy, always pick what you like! For this demo, I’ve chosen purple cabbages that you can see in the shot above along with yellow roses tinged with green and pink. When I make an arrangement I love to use complimentary colors, like purple and yellow to make the flowers “pop”. And I like to celebrate the current season by including some flowers or plants that are seasonal, like the cabbage. Be sure to choose flowers and plants that are free of dark or brow spots, creases, or tears.

Step 2

To get the best stem length for your vase, stand each flower up against the vase and trim accordingly. Use a pair of scissor to make a crosshatch snip on the bottom of each trimmed stem. This will allow the flower to better absorb water. I’ve used a pair of heavy duty kitchen shears that can cut through chicken bone and are also great for flowers.

Step 3

Fill your vase with cold tap water and drop in an aspirin to prolong the flowers life. At this point you can add decorative marbles or greens that will help the stems to stay in place. My neighbor threaten to throw out these nuts in their shells, so I’ve used them for decoration since I don’t have a nutcracker and hated to toss them.

Step 4

Arrange your flowers in the vase, I like to start with larger flowers in the center and build around making an undulating surface with the blossom. Place your arrangement on your dinner table, preferably away from direct light so you can enjoy it throughout the week. Changing the water once throughout the week will also help to extend the life of your arrangement.

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