Food Blogger Mimi Thorisson’s Home Is a Feast for the Eyes

ter rubbing gobs of butter onto two rosemary chickens, Mimi Thorisson attended to her newborn baby boy, her 2-year-old daughter and her German pointer—all of whom were in the kitchen. Then, while preparing a zucchini gratin, she looked down at the floor.

“It was a lot of work to preserve the tiles and polish them and take care of them, but these are impossible to have redone,” said Mrs. Thorisson, a food blogger and cookbook writer who works out of her home in France’s Bordeaux region.

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Three years ago, Mrs. Thorisson, and her photographer husband, Oddur, were house-hunting in Bordeaux’s Médoc region when they came across a 15-bedroom home built in 1880 that had once been a hotel and restaurant. Entering the kitchen, they saw tiles peering out from beneath linoleum flooring. Kicking at it bit by bit, they kept finding more tile. “These tiles are the biggest treasure of the house,” said Mrs. Thorisson, a 43-year-old Hong Kong native who is half French. She is best known for her blog, Manger, and an Instagram presence that showcases her culinary life. Her second book, “French Country Cooking,” is to be published next month by Clarkson Potter. All the images in the book are by Mr. Thorisson, who also photographs other projects.

Oddur and Mimi Thorisson’s 15-bedroom home in Saint-Yzans-de-Medoc.ENLARGE
Oddur and Mimi Thorisson’s 15-bedroom home in Saint-Yzans-de-Medoc.

These tiles have become some of the most recurring visual objects in Mrs. Thorisson’s Instagram feed. There they are beneath a table full of stuffed tomatoes. They show up again with a pan of grilled chicken and pêches blanches. Once more, they appear in a post about freshly picked artichokes.

Located in the center of the tiny village of Saint-Yzans-de-Médoc, the 11,840-square-foot house is a stately, L-shaped structure that cost around $620,000 when they bought it in 2014. The couple was specifically looking for a place to cook, blog, write and live. While the price tag might be considered a bargain for such a large place, Mr. Thorisson, who is 46 years old and from Iceland, estimates that he and his wife have spent about the same amount renovating the place, which is still a work in progress.

The kitchen, including new hardware, cost around $45,000 to refurbish, the Thorissons estimate. That includes what Mrs. Thorisson calls le coeur, or the heart, of her home: an enormous Lacanche range that cost around $17,000.

“When people walk into my kitchen, the first thing they say is, ‘Oh my goodness, I’m stepping into the blog! It’s the real thing,’ ” says Mrs. Thorisson, a self-taught cook who also uses her home to host workshops for fans who travel from as far away as Singapore and the U.S. The author rose to digital fame several years ago via her Manger blog, and her first cookbook, called “A Kitchen in France,” and published in 2014. Her Instagram presence is also large: With over 200,000 followers, photos from her kitchen garner thousands of “likes” with each post.

The Art of French Cooking

Inside the home of Mimi and Oddur Thorisson, a food writer and photographer who bought an 1880 home in France’s Bordeaux region.

The exterior of the home.
Food blogger and Instagram star Mimi Thorisson and her husband were looking for a place to write, blog, and cook three years ago when they found a 15-bedroom former hotel in the small town of Saint-Yzans-de-Medoc, about an hour-and-half from Bordeaux. Pictured is Mrs. Thorisson with her 2-year-old daughter, Audrey.
Mrs. Thorisson’s kitchen features many original elements, including a fireplace that she uses for roasting meat.
Here Mrs. Thorisson prepares a rosemary-and-lemon chicken with a Jura wine gravy sauce. Her 2-year-old daughter, Audrey, and her newborn son, Lucien, were also in the kitchen, along with Mrs. Thorisson’s assistant, Allegra Pomilio. Mrs. Thorisson and her husband, Oddur, have eight children, some from previous marriages.
In their kitchen, the Thorissons keep a big, rustic table, which they use for preparation and, later for dining. The kitchen, including new hardware, cost around $45,000 to refurbish, the Thorissons estimate.
The author says her surroundings inspire her cooking and writing. Her latest cookbook, “French Country Cooking,” will be published in October and features stories and even recipes inspired by the home, built in 1880.
Mrs. Thorisson also grows some of the vegetables she uses in her cooking on her property. Here, tomatoes from her garden.
The Thorissons are dog fans: they have 10, including this German pointer, Gertrude.
Mrs. Thorisson says she got the idea for her second cookbook within three minutes of walking into her home for the first time. At one point in its history, the house had been used as a hotel and restaurant.
The home is located in the center of town, just off a well-known road the winds through vineyards in the region. The 11,840-square-foot house is a stately, L-shaped structure that cost around $620,000 when the Thorissons bought it in 2014.
Antiques from local dealers make up a recurring theme in the Medoc residence. Here, a piece the Thorissons purchased at an antiques fair in Bordeaux.
Although the house price might seem a bargain, Mr. Thorisson estimates they couple have spent about the same amount—$620,000—refurbishing the structure. Flooring and electricity needed to be reworked, among other elements.
Mrs. Thorisson says she was impressed with the home’s large entryway. The couple decided to hang a portrait of Mr. Thorisson’s grandmother on a landing wall. The couple has plans to replace the wallpaper in the future.
The house, with 23 rooms in total, is still a work in progress. This is one of the first rooms the family renovated. They call it the ‘Christmas Room,’ because it was where the family spent their first Christmas in the house.
The cook says many people see the interior of her home and ask, ‘Is it always like this in your house?’ Mrs. Thorisson insists that it is, because she and her husband love beautiful things.
One of the more expensive projects in the house was updating the electricity system, so that it looked original, but functioned for the 21st century. Mrs. Thorisson says the family uses this room to watch television.
Mrs. Thorisson holds workshops at her home several times throughout the year, bringing fans of her blog, cookbook and Instagram account from around the world to Medoc. They come not just to learn to cook, but to relax and take pictures, she says. They are also often curious about how to balance life with children and cooking, says Mrs. Thorisson.
Mrs. Thorisson used this room when she turned her home into a pop-up restaurant. With its large table, she says it is also very useful when hosting a dinner party with many guests. ‘For me it’s absolutely normal to cook for 16 people,’ she said on a recent tour of the room.
‘Some chefs need white, clinical, medical, and then they can produce something,’ says Mrs. Thorisson. She contrasts this approach with her style, saying she is inspired by her country surrounds.
Mrs. Thorisson also keeps a smaller kitchen in a room on the side of her house. She says the cooler temperatures allow her to use the room to store produce. She occasionally invites friends to the room to prepare meals and have aperitifs.
The Thorissons and their 2-year-old daughter, Audrey, stand at the front door of their home. The family says they are excited about breathing new life into the region.
The exterior of the home.
Food blogger and Instagram star Mimi Thorisson and her husband were looking for a place to write, blog, and cook three years ago when they found a 15-bedroom former hotel in the small town of Saint-Yzans-de-Medoc, about an hour-and-half from Bordeaux. Pictured is Mrs. Thorisson with her 2-year-old daughter, Audrey.

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The exterior of the home. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Food blogger and Instagram star Mimi Thorisson and her husband were looking for a place to write, blog, and cook three years ago when they found a 15-bedroom former hotel in the small town of Saint-Yzans-de-Medoc, about an hour-and-half from Bordeaux. Pictured is Mrs. Thorisson with her 2-year-old daughter, Audrey. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET …
Mrs. Thorisson’s kitchen features many original elements, including a fireplace that she uses for roasting meat. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Here Mrs. Thorisson prepares a rosemary-and-lemon chicken with a Jura wine gravy sauce. Her 2-year-old daughter, Audrey, and her newborn son, Lucien, were also in the kitchen, along with Mrs. Thorisson’s assistant, Allegra Pomilio. Mrs. Thorisson and her husband, Oddur, have eight children, some from previous marriages. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
In their kitchen, the Thorissons keep a big, rustic table, which they use for preparation and, later for dining. The kitchen, including new hardware, cost around $45,000 to refurbish, the Thorissons estimate. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The author says her surroundings inspire her cooking and writing. Her latest cookbook, “French Country Cooking,” will be published in October and features stories and even recipes inspired by the home, built in 1880. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Mrs. Thorisson also grows some of the vegetables she uses in her cooking on her property. Here, tomatoes from her garden. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The Thorissons are dog fans: they have 10, including this German pointer, Gertrude. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Mrs. Thorisson says she got the idea for her second cookbook within three minutes of walking into her home for the first time. At one point in its history, the house had been used as a hotel and restaurant. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The home is located in the center of town, just off a well-known road the winds through vineyards in the region. The 11,840-square-foot house is a stately, L-shaped structure that cost around $620,000 when the Thorissons bought it in 2014. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Antiques from local dealers make up a recurring theme in the Medoc residence. Here, a piece the Thorissons purchased at an antiques fair in Bordeaux. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Although the house price might seem a bargain, Mr. Thorisson estimates they couple have spent about the same amount—$620,000—refurbishing the structure. Flooring and electricity needed to be reworked, among other elements. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Mrs. Thorisson says she was impressed with the home’s large entryway. The couple decided to hang a portrait of Mr. Thorisson’s grandmother on a landing wall. The couple has plans to replace the wallpaper in the future. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The house, with 23 rooms in total, is still a work in progress. This is one of the first rooms the family renovated. They call it the ‘Christmas Room,’ because it was where the family spent their first Christmas in the house. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The cook says many people see the interior of her home and ask, ‘Is it always like this in your house?’ Mrs. Thorisson insists that it is, because she and her husband love beautiful things. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
One of the more expensive projects in the house was updating the electricity system, so that it looked original, but functioned for the 21st century. Mrs. Thorisson says the family uses this room to watch television. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Mrs. Thorisson holds workshops at her home several times throughout the year, bringing fans of her blog, cookbook and Instagram account from around the world to Medoc. They come not just to learn to cook, but to relax and take pictures, she says. They are also often curious about how to balance life with children and cooking, says Mrs. Thorisson. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Mrs. Thorisson used this room when she turned her home into a pop-up restaurant. With its large table, she says it is also very useful when hosting a dinner party with many guests. ‘For me it’s absolutely normal to cook for 16 people,’ she said on a recent tour of the room. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
‘Some chefs need white, clinical, medical, and then they can produce something,’ says Mrs. Thorisson. She contrasts this approach with her style, saying she is inspired by her country surrounds. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Mrs. Thorisson also keeps a smaller kitchen in a room on the side of her house. She says the cooler temperatures allow her to use the room to store produce. She occasionally invites friends to the room to prepare meals and have aperitifs. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The Thorissons and their 2-year-old daughter, Audrey, stand at the front door of their home. The family says they are excited about breathing new life into the region. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
The exterior of the home. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
Food blogger and Instagram star Mimi Thorisson and her husband were looking for a place to write, blog, and cook three years ago when they found a 15-bedroom former hotel in the small town of Saint-Yzans-de-Medoc, about an hour-and-half from Bordeaux. Pictured is Mrs. Thorisson with her 2-year-old daughter, Audrey. JULIEN FERNANDEZ FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

In her kitchen, visitors spend several days learning not just how to cook, but about how to realize the sort of life Mrs. Thorisson writes about online: a dreamy one, filled with food, simplicity and children.

The Thorissons have eight children, some together, some from previous marriages. They range in age from newborn to 20. Not all eight live with the couple year-round, but there are occasions when everyone is home, along with the family’s 10 dogs.

Amid Mrs. Thorisson’s recipes are stories of the home’s past, as told to her by previous owners and village old-timers. Readers will learn tales of multiple generations of cooks together in the French country kitchen.

Best known for her blog and Instagram presence, the source of inspiration for Mimi Thorisson’s second book, to be published next month, came from her large country kitchen and home in rural France. Photo: Julien Fernandez for The Wall Street Journal

Now it’s her turn to find inspiration while working over the kitchen’s large, open-faced fireplace. When roasting meat, her kindling of choice is sarments, dried shoots from the region’s Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vines, which Mrs. Thorisson says infuse the meat with special flavors.

“When I light the fire, I can feel the magic of the house,” says Mrs. Thorisson.

[Source:-WSJ]

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