"Let us drink coffee, the very best coffee, in Dresden china cups on a snow-white tablecloth!" — Spring Torrents, Ivan Turvenev
A few years ago (okay, more) when I was first married, my husband bought us a set of Astier de Villatte cups to drink our coffees from. Drinking coffee from a fine (nearly china) cup is a great pleasure of the morning, especially when candles are lit and Beach House is playing. We've just added some Astier cups to our offerings, might I suggest you consider some for your morning pleasure? Oh I might!
We made something new to slip into your packages. It is an unabashed homage to many things we love, including but not limiting to Untitled (Pink Palace) made by Joseph Cornell in 1946 from fiberboard, etching reproduction, mirrors, twigs, and paint in a glass-fronted wood box, humdrum materials likely procured from his local five-and-dime and neighborhood hardware stores. Three cheers for humdrum materials made sublime!
To celebrate ten years of the Threadbare Ring, we released the Threadbare Bangle. We've honed the Threadbare over years — it's quintessentially Catbird, deceptively simple, 100% recycled solid 14k gold and each one made one-by-one by Catbird jewelers in our Brooklyn studio. We've sold over 50,000 of them (!) including a stack to an American actress who married into a royal family. The other 49,997 or so, are worn by neighbors, visitors, and kittens around the world.
We’ve asked some of our longtime friends, customers, Giving Fund partners, and our team to photograph themselves wearing the Threadbare Bangle. We wouldn’t be here without you.
Lisa Lucas is senior vice president at Knopf Doubleday, and a former executive director of the National Book Foundation.
Jewelry is just another way to express myself. I'm a little bit dramatic, a little bit girly, a little bit over the top, and layering on different jewelry--some vintage, some heirlooms, some just for funsies, is a way to tell a story about who I am, who I came from, and who I want to be on any given day.
On the day my father passed away, I wanted to get something that I would wear forever, that would always remind me of him. While he was in the hospital, he gave my stepmother a Catbird bracelet for Mother's Day, so I picked up (in tears) the Angel Hair Bracelet. I've worn it every day since and I'm so happy to think of him, always, when I look at my wrist. He would have thought it was beautiful.
Rebecca Porcelli is a jewelry designer and trained metalsmith, currently leading Catbird's design and product development team. She started her career as a Catbird bench jeweler in the earliest iteration of our in-house studio. 8 years at Catbird.
My very first Catbird purchase was a yellow gold top knuckle Tomboy that I still wear in a little stack with a Mignon Memory ring and Twisted Stacker.
Wing Yin Yau is a former sculptor and performance artist, and the creator of Wwake, a celebrated line of tonal and geometrically driven pieces made consciously and 100% women led.
I've been working with Catbird since 2014 – that's 8 years! This was the year after I had started making fine jewelry, and I've always felt that Leigh took a leap of faith on my first collection. There were a lot of things I still needed to work out with my jewelry, and working together has made my work so much stronger, so much more purposeful because when we work together, we're part of a greater Catbird community. I've learned a lot about myself in the process – from how to be a stronger designer to how to run a company the way I believe it should be run. It's been a beautiful little journey, Catbird & I!
Leigh Plessner is Catbird's creative director, shaping the brand narrative, design and creative direction since almost Day 1. 16 years at Catbird.
The Threadbare was born out of the glimmer of an idea, and we tugged at it, like silk from a spider’s web, until it was whole.
I was 32 when we first launched the Threadbare, and now at 42 my hands do not look quite the same. It’s a gift to me to see how beautiful the stack of Threadbares I’ve given her over the years look on my mother-in-law, who celebrates her 70th birthday this week. To quote Paula Fox from her interview in The Paris Review, "Oh, I want to be used up. As Tennyson had it, Not to rust, but to shine with use."
Phyllis Smith holds the all time highest attendance rate for Catbird events - including our book club! She wears her Catbird pieces so thoughtfully and is a fellow snail enthusiast.
My jewelry is such a part of who I am and always gives hints of the story that is me… I literally have NO idea what my first purchase from Catbird was, there have been so many lovely pieces. I would have to say the most significant was my 20th wedding anniversary ring. And the little charms which I adore. Still waiting for my snail charm..lol
Natalia Rodriguez is a jewelry designer and trained metalsmith who brings her expertise in production process and fine jewelry education to Catbird as head of our jewelry studio's training department - where each Catbird jeweler works with her team to develop their skills. 8 years at Catbird.
My first Catbird purchase was the (now discontinued) Alphabet Ring: 3 of them- my husband's initial, my initial and a heart! It's a romantic stacking ring that I still wear.
Robin Adams is the founder and creator of Bittersweets, where she designs from everyday objects, love and loss, darkness and light. For almost as long as there has been Catbird, we've carried Robin's pieces - linked in our business and a deep friendship from the start.
Bittersweets NY had been open for about a year on Broadway, near Kent Ave in Brooklyn and I used to walk past Catbird on my way to work from the L train. It occurred to me, that maybe Catbird would be open to carrying some of my pieces even though I had a shop so close by. I sent Rony an email in January of '07, and she was so sweet, & easy to work with from the very start. I used to deliver every order myself, and chat with the Birdettes, where Leigh became an instant friend! Over the years, Leigh & Rony have been instrumental on shaping how Bittersweets NY grew, in tandem with the stratospheric growth of Catbird! I'm so proud of them and their success!
The Bittersweeties are Catbird's biggest cheerleaders! There is no other shop we'd rather work with. I came across an email I wrote to Rony, just after I had dropped off my first delivery, that simply said, "I'm so happy to be in your beautiful store! xoxo Robin" I couldn't say it better, now, after all these years! MWAH! -R
Genne Laakso is a jeweler and metalsmith. She currently leads product knowledge & education for every Catbird team member, and launched our first accredited apprenticeship program aimed at creating diversity within the jewelry industry. 9 years at Catbird.
My first Catbird purchase was Ballerina Earrings for my amazing mom! I mailed them to her for the holidays - she was floored!
Jill Kargman is an author, writer, actress. Her assured personal style and bawdy humor make her a dream Catbird woman - and she is in fact one of our first and lasting customers.
Jewelry is a way to add a little sparkle and that’s why I love Catbird: it’s restraint. I’m not a flashy huge cocktail ring girl with lots of metal - it’s the dainty stuff that makes me swoon not some Kardashified chunk.
My first Catbird purchase was the Chained to my Heart Earring - it’s been knocked off by a thousand losers but I’m happy to have the original.
Becky Straw is the founder and CEO of The Adventure Project, a Catbird Giving Fund philanthropic partner and a visionary in creating impactful jobs for women in developing communities.
As the Co-Founder of The Adventure Project, I have been lucky enough to see Catbird's impact firsthand. Catbird's Giving Fund has helped hundreds of women and children in Uganda and Togo gain access to lifesaving health care and critical medicines. Your generosity has done this by training dozens of women to become health care workers, making them essential to their families and society. The health needs of pregnant women and children living in extreme poverty are often ignored and put last. So it is incredibly humbling to see Catbird put women and children first.
Rony Vardi is the founder of Catbird - she opened the business first as a tiny Brooklyn shop, where early lessons on point of view, conscious design, and jewelry as a joyous experience continue to guide our growth.
The Threadbare is so easy and personal. Like a beautiful secret to yourself. My memory in creating the Threadbare was that we wanted the slimmest flash of gold - like a single strand of hair gleaming in the sumer sun. It's unfussy and casual, beautiful and restrained. It’s deceptively simple. Also, of course, it’s handmade in our own Brooklyn studio with recycled gold.
Nancy Kraskin makes each handworked piece of jewelry in her Brooklyn studio - which also happens to be her kitchen! A favorite tradition is that she still drops off every package to the shop in person.
I came across the first Catbird shop when it was on Metropolitan Ave. on the southside in Williamsburg. Back then, I lived a few blocks away and it was a time where there were a few cool boutiques that dotted the area.
I was working freelance jobs while making jewelry in my apartment, so in my freetime I was able to take walks and check out new shops. The original Catbird shop on Metropolitan Ave had a cool mix of clothes, jewelry and clothes - cute things. This is where my journey with Catbird began.
Being a part of Catbird’s migration to Bedford Avenue and witnessing the evolution from the early beginnings to present day has been nothing but enchanting.
I have made friendships with so many of the different iterations of staff members over the years of dropping off parcels of my work and having conversations.
That’s my favorite part, the live convos and getting to know people.
I love the light glimmer and delicacy of the Threadbare bracelet. It reminds me of the sun making sparkles on the ocean with lightest breeze.
I can look down and have that at all times when I’m wearing it.
Sriya Karumanchi started at Catbird as our first in-house publicist, and now leads our marketing & communications team - alongside partnerships for The Catbird Giving Fund. 7 years at Catbird.
My very first purchase was a Sweet Nothing Choker - just as it was released. We’ve sold so many since but in my memory, I purchased the very first one as soon as it went online. My style has evolved a few times since but this choker always fits in.
Jennie Kwon is a classical violinist and attorney turned fine jewelry designer. Founding her namesake line shortly after the birth of her twins, her designs reflect her desire for a rebirth of creativity.
Catbird was my very first retailer and found me within a month after I started my jewelry line, 8 years ago. This was in the era of blogs. I was written up in a tiny little blog based in Oregon and through that, our relationship was born and we've been together ever since.
I emerged from nowhere- from a background in law and music, without a single connection to anyone in the jewelry world. I came in naive and fresh, designing without any influence from the industry, and Catbird embraced this and believed in me as a designer. It's been a truly beautiful journey growing together and watching our relationship continue to deepen and evolve.
Overall my style is very laid back, but I go all out with my jewelry! I am usually wearing a mix of vintage and new jewelry.
YOUR JEWELRY UNIFORM
Always earrings, a necklace I made with my mom's and my name written in Mongolian, and a ton of rings!
So many to choose from! My top two favorite ring pairings are my stacks with the Marrakech Ring, Pas De Deux, Beacen Ring Mother of Pearl, and Three Step Triangle Ring, and my stack with the Famous Letter Ring, Demi Circlet Band, Braided Ring and the Secret Garden Ring.
TOP OF THE WISHLIST
Snow Queen Ring in yellow gold
I love mixing metals! Most of my jewelry is made in yellow gold but I love mixing a little silver and rose gold in there for a little contrast.
Colorful & out there - a mix of Catbird and vintage pieces.
YOUR JEWELRY UNIFORM
So. many. stacking rings. Top knuckle rings are a must!
Twisted Stacker ring with anything: Grand Mignon, Threadbare, and Classic Hammered rings.
TOP OF THE WISHLIST
Painter's Ring, Aquamarine Choker and Bracelet.
Fasten your necklaces a couple of inches in between when you layer them, like the 1976 Choker, then the Greco Lariat, then a longer one like the Adjustable Sweet Nothing Chain. This can help with tangling!
Vintage and colorful.
YOUR JEWELRY UNIFORM
8+ stacking rings and Grand Cygnet ring, earrings (bigger the better) and two chokers.
Chained to My Heart Earrings + Diamond Greco Earrings.
TOP OF THE WISHLIST
Baby Deco Emerald ring, Angel hair Necklace, Baby Grand Mineral Hoops.
Always add texture to your stacks to create a more unique look + add weight (charms/pendants) to your necklaces to avoid tangling.
My style is classic, colorful, fun and durable (I almost never take my jewelry off!)
YOUR JEWELRY UNIFORM
My Sparkler Earrings with a Scoop of Turquoise Stud, Tinsel Chain with The Met Souvenir and 18th Century Bow charms, and my three welded Forever Bracelets twinkling together.
I love my Little Disco Ring between two Classic Hammered Rings and my Twisted Stacker on top of my Tomboy is my newest ring combo.
TOP OF THE WISHLIST
The Leo Black Snake Hair Pin and the Cassi Namoda Red Moon Necklace.
We love mixing a white gold bracelet into our yellow gold welded bracelet stacks in Soho, it adds such a fun extra sparkle to your wrist!
Second hand everything.
YOUR JEWELRY UNIFORM
A flowy dress, my Sweet Nothing Adjustable Chain with my Letter Cutie Charm (engraved with a J for my beau), my Tomboy First Knuckle Ring (I always feel so naked without it), I like to wear dangly earrings in my second and third piercings because they stand out with a mask! I like my Hoop Dream with my Tiniest Key Charm and a Chime earring for fun.
Lately in my first piercing I’ve been wearing a Full Heart Charm on a Big Hoop Dream in each ear and it’s so so fun.
TOP OF THE WISHLIST
Diamond Fizz Ring, Sparkler!!! I just can’t decide where to wear it! Or a Snow Queen Hoop!
I like to mix some clasp bracelets with charms on the same wrist as forever bracelets! I’ve been wearing my met souvenir charm and a mermaid treasure on a clasped tinsel bracelet and I love how it looks layered with my forever sweet nothing & 1976 bracelet!
OUR FALL PLANS
I always make a point of walking through the astonishingly beautiful Elizabeth Street Gardens when I am walking to our Soho store. If the timing works and I can sit there with a coffee, that’s automatically a good day.
Rockefeller State Park Preserve (in Westchester County) - It is an amazing trail where you can see beautiful foliage and I get to bring my fur babies.
The Met Cloisters when the leaves change have such pretty fall foliage views!
My birthday is in September and it’s my favorite tradition to go to Jacob Riis to celebrate. A half-empty beach is so serene.
ALICE, ART DEPARTMENT
I love going to Achilles Heel in Greenpoint to cozy up by their small fireplace with a cocktail and a snack. (Their bread and butter is extraordinary — something not often said about bread and butter)
Renaissance Festival in Fort Tryon Park (right near the Cloisters) that's fun for all ages.
Mud in the East Village is my favorite fall cafe! They have the best dirty chai, it tastes like fall in a cup - plus their mugs are the best!
My four year old just started big kid school — every morning we are going to ride on the subway together while we hold hands and whisper through our masks (she is shy) and watch the city we love, and let our lives get a little bigger after a year closer to home.
LEIGH, CREATIVE DIRECTOR
We are so excited to announce the international debut of CECE JEWELLERY. A collection of 18k gold necklaces and rings featuring the finest enameling, as if painted by a single kitten whisker.
We chatted a bit with Cecelia Hughes aka Cece, an art historian turned jeweler, to find out more about her process and inspiration behind her pieces - including a very special Catbird exclusive.
What is your first jewelry memory?
Travelling around India with my family and becoming obsessed with all the jewellery sold in the markets - packs and packs of gold and multicoloured sparkly bangles… a little girls heaven!
What does jewelry mean to you?
It's my form of expression. Being a jeweller who works from home, means 90% of the time I'm wearing comfy leggings and an oversized T-shirt, jewellery is my way of making me feel fabulous (even in PJs).
What originally sparked your interest in pursuing jewelry design?
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune illness after leaving university, which meant I couldn’t live life at the same pace as other 20-something year olds! This also put a lot of pressure on my mental health. After taking a year to slow down and soul search, I found jewellery making! Being able to create with my hands was so therapeutic that I fell in love instantly… I have now recovered fully from my illness, but wouldn’t have changed it for the world, as it led me to where I am today.
What historical jewelry / art are you inspired by?
Both Byzantine & traditional Indian jewellery!
What has been your favorite design to make from this selection?
I would say the Catbird exclusive The Swan & Reed. It was my first time creating an enamel design based on someone else’s idea and it was so exciting to be able to bring it to life!
Can you describe the process of making these pieces?
There are 5 crucial steps to the making of each piece, all meticulously thought through and carefully executed…
Design. All my pieces start at my kitchen table surrounded by books such as ‘V&A Jewels & Jewellery’ and the ‘Grimm Brothers’ fairy-tales, a colourful array of pencils & watercolours, my laptop of course, and a candle or two to get me in the zone.
Make. All the signet rings and pendants are handmade from my jewellery bench at home, forged from the deep and rich recycled 18ct yellow gold.
Enamel. I then send the pieces to my enameller who engraves and hand paints each design in miniature. As every different layer of enamel paint is applied, the piece must be fired in a kiln. This process is repeated until the finished painting comes to life!
Diamonds. I then pass the jewellery on to my wonderful stone setters in Hatton Garden, the diamond district of London, where they star-set teeny tiny glittery diamonds to complete each miniature scene…
Finish. Finally, the pieces are back with me, where I give the overall surface a matte finish. This results in a buttery, frosted surface - bringing out the beautiful deep colours of the enamel paintings.
Describe a perfect day in London.
It would start off with a long Saturday morning sitting in bed with my boyfriend Dan and our sweet little fur baby, Lucky. A tray of croissants, jam, butter and coffee from our local bakery in the middle of it all…
An afternoon spent in Notting Hill visiting my all-time favourite haberdashery called The Cloth Shop, I could spend hours sifting through their various striped French linens, or Indian block print cottons. Always an inspiration.
The evening would be spent with friends in a cosy, fairy-lit pub garden. Somewhere local, sharing bottles of wine until I decide it’s way past my bedtime and jump in an uber home. Ready for a sleepy Sunday!
How did you begin your journey with enamel?
In some ways, my journey has just begun! While researching ancient jewellery in the treasure trove that is the Victoria & Albert Museum archives, I fell in love with an old Victorian wedding band, enamelled with pink flowers all the way around. I decided to begin experimenting with my own designs, and through lots of (expensive!) trial and error, I finally created a collection I am happy with! I can’t wait for the journey to continue…
Can you tell us a bit about the enameller you work with?
My London enameller is wonderful and works effortlessly on each design I send his way! He is a Master Enameller and a member of the Goldsmith Company, Freeman to the City of London – which is a prestigious title that has been given to those with excellent goldsmithing craftsmanship for over 700 years.
Did you face any challenges in getting the collection going? And, have you encountered any obstacles that you have learned from?
Yes!! I came across quite a few hiccups along the way. Enamel is a very particular material to work with. In order to bring out the richness in colour you must choose 18ct gold as your metal (75% pure gold), which you can imagine becomes expensive when you get a design wrong…
The Shark & Anchor (my favourite design) was one of the hardest to create, as it was imperative to get the expression right. One tiny dot for an eye in the wrong place and we have to do it all over again!
Have you been to New York? If so, what do you think of it?
Yes – I LOVE New York. I think I love it so much because it feels very similar to London. (I’m a bit of a home bunny). The energy, the pace of life, the culture, the weather (!!)… I can’t wait for the world to open up again so I can come and visit once more.
Shop Cece's Collection
We have always admired the way Morgan stacks and styles her Catbird pieces to be so quintessentially her! She is a longtime customer and we have enjoyed connecting with her (via Instagram!) over the years. We asked her to show us how she styles her Catbird for three different looks in her day-to-day life down in Florida!
Getting ready for lunch after a long swim at the beach.
SHOP THE LOOK
After lunch and a nap, walking with my little gal Amelia. She loves looking at flowers on the island.
SHOP THE LOOK
Getting ready for date night, after walking and more swimming at the beach.
SHOP THE LOOK
"The crickets felt it was their duty to warn everybody that summertime cannot last forever. Even on the most beautiful days in the whole year - the days when summer is changing into autumn - the crickets spread the rumour of sadness and change." — Charlotte's Web, E.B. White
It's that time, swans — the time it always is (oh! change) but sometimes, like a frog in a pond, that time is clearer to see.
Shells, strawberries, snakes, spiders — a gathering in bandana form to celebrate the soft swirling skies of summer's end. Like the sweetness of summer, this offer won't last forever. But (always a but), after every end comes a new beginning.
This limited edition bandana is 100% cotton, produced in the US and printed in Brooklyn, New York. The custom illustration is by Jasmine from our design team.
The bandanas are 100% cotton and we recommend washing on cold water and to hang dry.
Natasha Pickowicz is a pastry chef & writer based in Brooklyn. We spent the day with Natasha and her cat Tini in their fuzzy-lawned Greenpoint backyard, as she prepared dinner for dinner with friends. Read on, reader, for a delightful bursting-with-summer interview complete with Natasha's favorite spots for martinis and french fries, and her ice cream dreams.
Describe your perfect day in Brooklyn.
Every morning, before the sun is too direct and the air is still cool, I’ll make a cup of coffee (pour over, Parlor) and go out back with my mug and check in on my garden. It’s my favorite part of the day, to see how everything grew a little bit more while I was sleeping. I’m growing some familiar-to-me-plants like tomatoes, zucchini, peppers, kale, lettuces, arugula and herbs, and lots of more cheffy plants like Thai chiles, golden amaranth, tulsi, bronze fennel, and lemongrass. I take my time weeding and pruning and watching the bees and butterflies. If this is a perfect day we’re talking about, then I’ll have a book with me. I’ve been reading poetry by Li-Young Lee and Walt Whitman, poems about peaches and summer and “nature without check with original energy.”
I’ll cook something simple for myself for breakfast, like steamed rice and ponzu or buttered toast, wilted greens, braised beans and a big salad, and eat outside before the sun gets too strong. I always have a few quarts of iced mujicha (barley tea) ready to go. This to me is the flavor of summer. I eat and drink whatever I want at night, but for breakfast and lunch I try to keep things reasonable so I don’t get sluggish when I try to write. My weekly exception is the ipad-sized Darren Vito, this insane, crispy panino from Archestratus, my favorite bookstore in the world that is also an Italian cafe and market. This sandwich squishes together mortadella, roasted red peppers, caciocavallo, and a breadcrumb spread (what is a breadcrumb spread!). It’s divine. Half of one is a full meal for sure. On a perfect day in Brooklyn I am definitely eating that sandwich.
Then I am going for a walk, really taking my time, at least 6 or 7 miles but hopefully more like 9 or 11. Greenpoint to Roosevelt Island is only 3 miles, and I love walking up to Hunters Point, up the East river, cross over to Roosevelt Island, and then wind my way around the island, from the lighthouse to the Louis Kahn memorial, and then home. That’s a pretty perfect walk for a perfect day, the breezes and ocean spray coming off the river always feels so good. Then I’ll come home, or maybe stop first at Achilles Heel, Amber Steakhouse, or Chez Ma Tante for a few vodka martinis and french fries. Then, home, rub the soft grey belly of my kitty Tini, put on a few Simpsons episodes, catch up with my parents. That’s a perfect day for sure.
We chatted A LOT about ice cream while we were at your house - what is your favorite flavor to make?
Making ice cream is the number one pastry project that I miss the most from working in restaurants. I don’t have an ice cream machine at home so whenever I have a Never Ending Taste pop-up I look forward to writing the ice cream part of the menu the most.
In the summer, I’ll steep dairy with the fresh, bright flavors of herbs like lemon verbena, anise hyssop, and Thai basil. Lately, I’ve been playing around a lot with using the leaves from fruit trees, which have their own, subtle flavors and, depending on the time of the year, are easy to score in abundance. The fresh, new leaves from peach and fig trees impart a subtle tropical, coconutty, almondy essence to dairy, fat and sweets in general. I also love super rich ice cream flavors, like black sesame, Adzuki bean, and hazelnut, and very bright, tart sorbet flavors, like roasted plum, unstrained strawberry, and bracing citrus like Yuzu. And also nothing is really better than vanilla bean.
My “unicorn” ice cream flavors are coffee (I can never get it as intense or rich or as coffee as I want) and melon (fruit like cantaloupe and honeydew are often so subtle that adding sugar and serving them cold ruins their delicate notes). Someday I will figure these flavors out and be proud of them.
How has your approach to baking changed since you started Never Ending Taste?
Because it’s so ephemeral and comes together so quickly, with very little money, staffing, space, and any other resources, Never Ending Taste really makes me appreciate being in the moment with my work—I’m still learning to relax my own expectations for everything to be “perfect” and “dialed in,” which was something that was always drilled into me when I was working in fancy restaurants, and lean into the side of me that wants to be bigger and bolder and more messy and lush. The pop-ups allow me to be more playful with plating and presentation and to also take advantage of hyper-seasonal ingredients like red currants and donut peaches. In a restaurant setting, often the recipe testing process for developing a new dish can take so long, an ingredient will be available and then disappear before I have a chance to even sell the dish!
The customers who buy pastries from me are the sweetest, coolest, best people, and I think their positivity reinforces that I should keep going. It’s just a slice of cake, in a paper boat, maybe a little lopsided, but totally made from scratch and with love. In that sense, doing the pop-up helped me revisit why I love pastry so much. It’s a chance to connect with other people.
What is your first baking memory?
As my parents LOVE to remind me, when I was little I was obsessed with baking the cornbread from the Jiffy box (I think you just add milk and an egg!) for our Thanksgiving feast every year. I think it was my way of “contributing” to the meal so I always felt super proud. I love those box mixes—they still give you the sense of accomplishment that only baking can do! My boyfriend has a good brownie box mix hack—he adds mezcal and fernet to the batter, which adds smokiness and big flavor.
Many of your bake sales have a giving component! Can you tell us a little bit about the organizations you work with and how your partnerships came to be?
Organizing the bake sales really revealed a lot to me about the role pastry plays in my life and the kind of person I want to be. The bake sale is full of joy and connection and ease. They’re so FUN. It’s people coming together over sweets after all. There’s something very approachable about cookies on a paper plate. Everyone can participate. It felt really important to me to have a way to connect with people in a pastry context without relying on the fancy, old-school models of “fine dining” which I actually think can be really alienating and exclusive.
I have been building my relationships with local organizations for years. For me, that means getting to know the people that work there. Being a part of their programming in some way. Spending time on their property. Tying in their mission into my pop-ups. In this way, I’m on the Culinary Council at God’s Love We Deliver, and the Industry Advisory Board at the Food Education Fund. I also have a really special relationship with the amazing team at the Teaching Kitchen at the Lenox Hill Neighborhood House, which I first encountered when I was working at the Met Breuer and was trying to see what was on the Upper East Side outside of fancy fashion boutiques and mansions. And of course, it was such an honor to fundraise over $125,000 for the Planned Parenthood of Greater New York via the bake sales I organized from 2017 to 2019. Allying with these organizations gives my work meaning and reaffirms my love of pastry. I don’t think I’d still be in pastry if it weren’t for these kind of relationships.
What is always in your fridge / kitchen?
Fizzy water, barley tea, oolong tea, Parlor coffee. Hummus, cheese, eggs, tortillas, cabbage, and about 10-12 jars of jam from different places at any given time (right now my favorites are from June Taylor and Camilla Wynne, probably the two best jam makers in North America if you ask me!). Natural wine from my boyfriend’s wine shop, Radicle Wine. Ketchup. Peas, Vodka, bread scraps, roti, butter in the freezer.
I also keep a lot of my baking staples in the freezer so they don’t spoil, like nuts, flours, leaveners, and yeast. I buy most of my “everyday” groceries from Archestratus, which is amazing because Archestratus is really a bookstore. I buy ground pork, whole chickens, Parmesan, ricotta, flawless vegetables (the cucumbers! The basil! If you know, you know) from Bodhitree Farm, the sesame sourdough from She Wolf. Archestratus also sells a great range of Gustiamo imports, so I stock up on Iasa hot peppers, dried beans, Italian rice and barley, and liter cans of olive oil. When I was working full-time in restaurants, I rarely ate any meals at home, let alone three meals a day. Building out my pantry and refrigerator to be full and ready to go at all times has been one of the more satisfying developments of my 2021 life.
Can you please tell us about your excellent eye makeup!
I have naturally very short, fine, and straight Chinese eyelashes, and I’ve probably been doing the same winged eyeliner shape for at least 15 years now, which is crazy. I should mix it up! I’ll do a few pumps with an eyelash curler, then black pencil, then I paint in the wing tip with liquid eyeliner so the point looks crisp, then a few coats of mascara. I think all the products I have right now are L’Oreal, but I love Chanel mascara too. And that’s it, no other makeup. Lots of moisturizer and sunscreen, of course.
Who would you love most to bake for (living or otherwise) and what would you bake for them?
I’ve already baked for Ina Garten, so I can cross that one off my list, haha. I love to bake a big, weird layer cake festooned with flowers and plants for Kate Bush.
Natasha's Guide to Brooklyn (& beyond)
295 Grand Street
Chez Ma Tante
90 Calyer St
(Long Island City) 5-48 49th Ave
(Manhattan) 430 E. 9th St
119 Nassau Ave
Giando on the Water
400 Kent Ave
80 Wythe Ave
732 Manhattan Ave
180 West St
Markets & Grocery
160 Huron St
(Manhattan) 123 Lexington Ave
(Manhattan) 104 Avenue B
(Manhattan) 163 W. 10th St
(Manhattan) 102 3rd Ave
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