Meet A. Rose, a creator and self-portraitist from Pennsylvania! We are long-time fans of her work.
A. Rose's self portraits transport you into her dreamy, sultry world.
She has an eye for composition and color- and stacking, as it turns out! We are so excited to see Catbird through her eyes.
Tell us about yourself and how you came to be an artist
I began this journey into self-portraiture when I started working as an art model years ago. I felt a new sense of appreciation and curiosity for my body seeing how artists captured me. As I worked on building my self-esteem, self-portraiture became a form of therapy for me. I could express myself through stories I would dream up through the lens.
Describe your work in three words
It always happens that I end up seducing the camera, seducing myself through the mirror. There are always elements of sensuality and self-awareness in my work that excite me to keep creating (so I would say sensuality, self-awareness, and muse (I'm my own muse!)
Where do you look for inspiration?
I love finding clothing and props that evoke nostalgia and romance. I like to put on a vintage silk wedding gown and imagine who could have worn it and what they were feeling.
What does jewelry mean to you?
Wearing jewelry is a form of self-love. Adorning your body with something beautiful is a way to honor and admire yourself, and that’s why I was thrilled to have fun and wear pieces from Catbird for this project.
Who are your style icons?
I often think of classic muses as my style icons, like Jane Morris wearing delicate silk with her cascading curls in a Rossetti painting.
Favorite IG follows?
Shop A. Rose's Edit
We have been followers (and fans!) of Aimee's for a long time! You might follow her too -- known as @yungkombucha420 on instagram, Aimee's account is a sweets enthusiast's dream! Full of the fantastical cakes she creates, as well as a sneak peek at her daily life as a baker.
Aimee currently bakes out of her Brooklyn kitchen, and sources all ingredients locally -- whether it's foraging some flowers and strawberries from a local community garden, or shopping at the Union Square farmer's market. We love not only Aimee's eye for design, but her commitment to sustainability and using what she has.
Aimee invited us over to spend an afternoon baking a cake with her. What kind of cake you ask? Well an olive oil rose cake with ricotta and fresh strawberries, and brown butter cardamom prosecco buttercream of course! OH - and a little chocolate ganache too. It was as delicious as it was beautiful. Scroll through to enjoy with us!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to be a baker
My name is Aimee France and I am 23. I went to college and graduated with a degree in communications but deep down always knew I wanted to do something entrepreneurial. I was interested in food/cooking and wanted a good vegan dessert. I became interested in food science and decided to teach myself how to mimic traditional baking techniques to create a vegan version. I then started posting photos on social media and grew a following. After that I decided to sell my products and here I am now, I guess I got lucky!
Describe your work in three words
Seasonal, spontaneous, ethereal.
First baking memory?
Watching my mom bake my birthday cakes every year and the chocolate cake she would always make. My mom made some pretty cool and intricate cakes for me. I also have a vivid memory of having a bake sale at the bottom of my driveway with my childhood best friend. I think we sold Ghirardelli chocolate chip brownies and Whoopie pies (I think my mom made the whoopie pies lol).
What are your favorite flavors and ingredients?
In the summer I love chocolate cake, cardamom, mascarpone or chantilly cream with fresh berries and lemon thyme. Sprinkling maldon on top is necessary. I also love tiramisu or anything coffee.
And cake / frosting combination?
Chocolate cake with a big scoop of chantilly cream and fresh herbs. For buttercream I love the prosecco buttercream I make. Chantilly cream and any type of buttercream needs to be a bit salty in my opinion.
Describe a perfect day in NYC!
Having breakfast on my roof, going to the farmers market, walking around with friends, exploring a new area, trying a new restaurant for dinner or going to one that I love. After dinner I like to walk around and sit in a park during dusk, maybe go out after if I’m not too tired.
Favorite non-cake dessert?
Tiramisu or affogato!
How can one order a cake from you?
Send an email to [email protected] ! (Please do not DM me about cake inquiries). I make anything from birthday cakes to extravagant cakes for events and weddings. I also sell mini cakes on my instagram story weekly on a first come first serve basis!
Shop Aimee's Edit!
Dru is a New York based artist who lives in a technicolor dream! A self-described unicorn (and oh does that ring true!) Dru’s art takes form in their fashion, their beauty, their movements.
Read on to observe Dru's bright light and infectious spirit!
On becoming an artist..
I think I came to be an artist at a young age and the way I express my art has always been through my everyday style. Getting dressed up has always been a daily ritual and something that came natural to me.
I like to think I live my life as a muse from a Tim Walker editorial who likes to bring a fantasy into a drab and dreary world and make it very gay of course.
First fashion memory..
I feel like it was my mother and the women in my family who influenced me the most with my fashion. Growing up my mom would always be dressed to the nines for any occasion. I loved watching the way she would embellish herself with jewelry, lipstick, and perfume at her boudoir early in the morning. It was quite fabulous and those memories I'll always cherish forever.
Your style in three words..
Magic, Kindness, and Freedom.
The best gift you have ever received?
I'm very grateful for all the gifts I've received over the years so it's hard to narrow that down. I'd say when my dad asked me what I wanted for my 21st birthday I asked him if he would get me a dress. I was so nervous to ask but with no hesitation my dad said, "sure I'll get you a dress." That was one of the best gifts I've ever received and I'm never getting rid of that dress.
Something in fashion you're drawn to right now..
The last collection I loved was my friend, Jackson Wiederhoeft, 'Fashion Show' collection. It was playful as always but had a beautiful aggression to it from his previous shows. He's always working hard and presenting the most magical collections and he is also a finalist in this year's CFDA.
Any words of wisdom for people experimenting with their style right now?
Personal style at the end of the day should always be about pure freedom, freedom to be yourself is the best style advice I have to offer. Just go for it! Feed your inner child and trust your intuition always when experimenting with your look. If something catches your attention and makes your heart skip a beat or inspires you then wear it!
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We were so happy to connect with Evelynn ahead of our visit to LA - we have long admired her work in founding Hike Clerb, an intersectional women's hiking group and nonprofit centering BIPOC. Joining any of Evelynn’s gatherings, the amount of joy and community Hike Clerb has created over the past five years is soon understood. Catbird organized a golden hour hike in partnership with Hike Clerb last week, read on to see views from our trail and learn more about Evelynn’s mission.
On Hike Clerb..
I created Hike Clerb as a solution to the blindspots I was seeing in the outdoors. Being a Black and indigenous woman out there and feeling isolated in how homogeneously white it was, I wanted to take action to ensure that Black, Indigenous, women of color felt that they had a space out there for them to heal and explore in whatever way they felt necessary. The community that has been built as a result has been incredible. From the tens of thousands that are involved digitally, to those who I get the honor of seeing the transformation take place in real-time of being a part of the clerb, the work in short is working! We have created the future we want to live in and it's been incredible to witness an idea that was seemingly planted in my mind take shape in this way.
What are your hiking essentials?
I always bring a fanny pack, water, my inhaler, sunglasses, comfortable bottoms (shorts or pants), and of course, trusty hiking boots or sneakers. The specifics change from hike to hike.
Who is your dream hiking companion?
Who wouldn't love to hike with Beyonce? It would be peak virgo of us.
What are your future plans for Hike Clerb?
Expansion to cities across the country is our biggest focus in the short term. There is so much to come in the long term from products to bigger activations and new adventures.
Describe a perfect day in LA..
My perfect day in LA ranges from going to the spa and indulging in much-needed self-care to enjoying time outside -- whether that's on the trail, at the beach, etc. with the people I love the most.
What is your jewelry uniform?
My jewelry uniform is a set of gold hoops, a pair of gold necklaces and bracelets, and my gold nose hoop that has become a permanent fixture at this point! In short, all gold everything!
Describe your style in three words.
Effortless. Gender fluid. Cozy.
We love sweet Isla! Has she changed how you think about adventure?
Being a mom to Isla hasn't necessarily shifted the way I think about adventure per se but it has made me way more thoughtful about the preparation that comes with it through trial and error. It's also so empowering to lead by example in the sense that babies can and should come along for the ride! Your life and the adventures you were accustomed to can and absolutely should continue with the baby in tow!
What are you most looking forward to this summer?
I'm most looking forward to all the traveling we'll be doing as a family this summer after two years of being in LA during the height of the pandemic. It feels like we're getting back into our flow!
Our Golden Hour Hike with Hike Clerb
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Kristen Bateman and Karen Resta are the embodiment of fashion freethinkers — their voluminous layers, labyrinthine love of patterns, and pastel and neon palette is both a shared love and distinct to each.
When we were planning this shoot, we asked them for a list of places around the city they love to go together, and at the top of the list was without hesitation Coney Island. And so a warm spring day was spent together, walking the boardwalk, savoring hotdogs and sweets, and people watching until the fog rolled in.
Read on for a dream day in Coney Island, and a conversation around tradition, individuality, motherhood, and love.
Karen: The first time we went to Coney Island together was when Kristen went to college at Parsons. I’d grown up in NYC but we had lived in other places, so I came to visit in her first year of college and we took the subway to Coney Island - and after that she shared it with her new friends who hadn’t been there yet, who loved it!
K & K's Coney Island Itinerary..
First we look at the souvenir stores before even leaving the subway station and usually decide not to buy anything, then we cross the street to Nathan’s and take some photos! It’s so iconic, I don’t think we’ve ever walked by it without taking a photo. Then we go into the park and look at the Art Walls to see what food trucks are there that day, maybe get a drink and go to the boardwalk.
On summer weekends there’s usually a freeform dance party happening on the boardwalk - sometimes it’s music from a big boombox, other times there’s a live band or a DJ. Anybody and everybody can join in, there are toddlers dancing and people in their 80’s - all New Yorkers and all loving it! It’s fun to watch or to join in!
Then it’s time for the rides: Deno’s Wonder Wheel and Luna Park. We usually do a few rides and have fun listening to people screaming and laughing on the fast rides then take more photos. The people, the rides, the food, everything is just asking to be photographed!
We might have a bite to eat at Nathan’s on the boardwalk (hot dogs, fries, clams) after that, or some ice cream from Coney’s Cones next door. Then it’s time to take off our shoes and go onto the beach! We’ll stroll along the water “getting our feet wet” and finding shells and rocks to take home. It’s fascinating to see NYC’s famous diversity at the beach - there are people wearing tiny bikinis and there are people covered literally from head to toe in their prescribed religious garments right next to each other swimming in the water.
The boardwalk and beach extend into Brighton Beach, so we might walk along it and into Brighton Beach to go shopping at a fabulous Russian grocery store where you can buy freshly made crepes to fill with caviar and sour cream - or we might stop for borscht and pelmeni at one of the neighborhood restaurants (where there’s a tradition of putting an entire bottle of vodka on the table to share! But I don’t think we’ve done that yet!)
That’s it - we’ll get in the subway there, unless we walk back along the boardwalk and stop to get a haul of candy at the big “It’s Sugar” store, along with cotton candy and candy apples at Williams’ Candy. Then it’s back on the subway and home.
What is your favorite thing about Coney Island?
Kristen: I love the fact that it transports you to a place that feels a little bit surreal. I especially love all the colors, the signage and the food. It’s one of my favorite places to go with my mom! It’s also amazing to go there during the off-season, it’s far less crowded and the scenery is even more surreal. We always take tons of photos there every time we go.
Karen: I love that it’s one of the few places in the city that has not changed over many years. It’s “old-school” in a good way. All New Yorkers are equal at Coney Island, and it’s one of the few places in the city that have that kind of mood. There generally aren’t a lot of tourists and there generally *are* a lot of colorful people there. It’s a place of joy, music, junk food, sun, sand, water, seagulls and New Yorkers in all their glory!
What other traditions do you have together?
Karen: We often color each other’s hair. Kristen’s color at the moment is peach, mine is bright yellow.
Kristen: We also get dressed up to make TikToks together. We love to go to Fashion weeks together - especially in Paris. Plus, we love trying new restaurants, traveling, shopping together and helping each other plan outfits.
What do you most admire about one another?
Kristen: My mom is the strongest person I know. She’s fearless and has always encouraged me to do what I want and to express myself. She inspires me endlessly. I admire her determination and her ability to always be positive no matter what the situation is. Plus, I could listen to her talk about her life stories, from living in New York in the ‘70s to moving to Paris on a whim, forever.
Karen: Kristen is her own person - and she also *owns* that she’s her own person. As her mom, I’ve seen her grow from a very quiet, shy little girl into a woman who stands her own and makes her way in a world that’s not always friendly to women or to artists. She constantly surprises me as an artist, a writer, and a businesswoman, and the fearless way she expresses her personal style is so much fun to watch!
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Shop Karen's Edit
A winter morning with Sabrina draped in the finest Catbird Classics. These are the 14k gold (recycled, solid gold!) essentials we recommend wearing in layers unique to you.
Made with love in our Brooklyn studio, just down the street ❤️
Quiet, poetic, earnest.
We first came to know Imdad’s work when we discovered portraits of their mother and aunt, an often photographed muse, and wrote to them with our wishes to commission a project of our own. The photos Imdad created this past fall come fully from their world of color, light, and shape in nature.
On becoming an artist
The journey has been quite organic and cathartic; lots of turning points because I didn’t always know that I would be an artist one day. I didn’t have any artistic influences growing up, and so I ended up going through the conventional (Indian) path of choosing engineering. In just a year, i switched to architecture, which I did finish. I also tried product, set and garment design, a job with a skincare brand to then finally find my sweet balance with image making. I now make art through images and text; I am a self taught visual artist, my work being a mix of creative direction, photography, sculptures, set design, performance and writing. What I like most about being an artist working independently is the freedom it allows me to choose how I wish to spend my time. I just can’t imagine trading that for anything in the world. Freedom is an elusive thing, but I have some semblance of it and so I am quite happy with the life I have created for myself.
You practice an almost meditative approach to your photography, sometimes waiting hours for the moment you envision to capture. Tell us more about this.
I am actually not waiting for a precise moment or a particular image, I just can't seem to stop. I can spend hours making images of a single flower. To me it feels like a very personal portrait session where I am getting to know the subject, as it gains trust and reveals more and more with time. It does feel very meditative as I lose track of all sense of time and space. When I am shooting outdoors, on the other hand, a market for example where I have no control over my subject, I tend to function on a subconscious level. I am moving around, maneuvering the crowd, deciding what to capture, composing, etc but I am no longer tethered to the physicality of that space. It’s almost like having an out of body experience, guided by the colors, shapes and light.
Where do you most often find inspiration?
In unexpected and often fleeting moments of beauty. Just a certain light, a unique way a petal might have dried, two colors sitting together, in decay and in between moments of movement and intimacy. And always in the plentiful and magical wonders of nature.
How does your culture influence you and your creative process?
I like to think that I am mindful and grounded in my practice; I value the meaningfulness of (and ideas behind) the work and not as much the final work itself. Being here in India has taught me the true value of appreciating whatever I have, being content and managing with limited resources. I believe this has a lot to do with my upbringing and my culture’s inextricable connection with the natural world. My family isn’t very religious or spiritual but I have grown up seeing so many rituals and festivals around me, all based around the seasons and cycles of nature. Our culture is all about acknowledging, sharing and celebrating the true essence of things. This has definitely shaped me as a person and also the way I see the world around me today.
What is your favorite place in India for moments of restoration and calm?
I am most at peace staring into the gentle laps and ripples of water bodies. Udaipur is a really quiet and peaceful ancient city built around lakes, it is my favorite place in India. I have spent countless days contemplating and made many major life decisions sitting next to the lake Picchola, staring into the indelible sunsets there. Temple bells and bird songs, echoing in the valley created by the hills surrounding the lake city. I also love seeing the world from a moving car, i find it very relaxing and inspiring.
What is home for you?
‘Home’ for me is a feeling that I find in many places, people and dreams; I carry this feeling with me and it’s constantly evolving. I feel at home in Delhi for the culture, the city life, the public places but then I soon get homesick and I know it's time for me to come back to my family home, which is in Assam. To my mother, our garden, the slow life here, the river and the gorgeous vegetables.
What draws you towards jewelry? Do you have pieces you wear every day?
We humans love personalisation; we alter, decorate and leave our impression on any space that we occupy. We like to scribble and draw on walls and tables when we are younger, on tissue papers perhaps, as we grow older :) I like to think of jewellery as us doing the same, decorating our bodies with shapes and motifs that we think reflect a little bit of who we are inside.
I wear my pearl earring almost everyday and now the Catbird love letter charm, tinsel bracelet and rings have become my staples. Garnering compliments everywhere, so thank you!
Do you have any young memories of someone wearing jewelry?
Yes, my mother. She loves gold jewellery, especially necklaces and bangles. I remember she had a lovely necklace which was made up of just hollow circles attached to each other, with a line and four dots in the middle. It’s been her all time favorite piece, mine too actually. It broke at some point and she couldn’t find any goldsmith who could repair it because the details were way too minute. It's been years now and she has forgotten about it but I plan to get one made in the same design and gift it to her.
Your photographs of your mother and aunt in a feeling of their girlhood is what first drew us to your work. What draws you towards the nostalgia of childhood?
That was a really special project, one that I will always cherish. As children, our motivations are so pure, we see everything with love and kindness. Our emotions and curiosities are genuine, and I crave that for myself and also in the world around me. So I try to revisit themes from childhood and share that spirit of innocence in my work. I think I am still very childlike in nature, I find delight in the simple pleasures of life. I loved playing with mud as a child, so I am planning to join pottery classes soon.
Desribe a perfect day in New Delhi.
Aww. So it's summer time, I woke up to the light today which is especially sweet and gold, streaming into my space through the sheer curtains. I am instantly in a good mood, I start my day with some french pop. I would water the plants and then have breakfast facing the sun as I plan the rest of the day. I would try to edit some pictures or write something before lunch so I can head out after. I would write to my friends to see if they can join me for a long walk in one of my favorite gardens. Delhi is lovely that way, it’s an amazing city if you like walking and exploring; there are gardens, markets, museums and ancient ruins. We would then head to one of the busy and crowded markets, pick a few things, walk about and end this perfect day with dinner and some nice conversation about our work, feelings and dreams.
Shop Imdad's Edit:
Lina Sun Park is a Brooklyn based artist who describes her work as "Edwardian Blythe doll" - and we couldn't agree more. We first met Lina on Instagram late last year, and were excited to see Catbird reimagined in her world.
Pearls and lace and tiny tea sets! Welcome to Lina's world.
"Jewelry to me feels like wearing a little piece of fantasy. It is so special to go about your day and have a glint of a sparkly gem, or an iridescent pearl catch your eye. There is a mystique to jewelry that I so very much love. Wearing a piece of jewelry with a gem that took billions of years to be created deep in the depths of the earth is quite precious. It makes you wonder what the stone has seen and knows!"
"I love how dainty and delicate these pieces are, yet they have a very strong presence. Every tiny detail feels so luxurious and elegant. I also appreciate the customizable aspect of the charms. As someone who loves to collect little tchotkes, it feels like collecting special little things that help create a world of your own. "
Regina Yazdi is a fashion illustrator based in Los Angeles, though we first crossed paths with her in New York in 2014. We first met Regina ahead of our 10 year anniversary and launch of our first engagement ring line, The Swans. Naturally for the launch, we wanted to commission a swan illustration, and her fluid, swooping swan is still an illustration we treasure today - so much so that we wanted to reinvent it for our 2021 Holiday bandana.
For this new design, Regina and our creative director Leigh talked about a closer look at our Catbird Swan, maybe crying some pearl tears or swimming through a pearl bubble, framed in black bows. The background Leigh felt should be a pale blue, and there would be an orange beak, she had been thinking a lot about bits of orange details!
Read on to learn more about Regina, her art, and the Swans of Catbird.
On becoming and being an artist..
The Art life started young. The first images burned into our minds as children are book illustrations and animations so I naturally became curious and obsessed with drawing. I'd bolt home from school and plop my belly on the floor to practice drawing off the screen during my favorite shows. I'd even invent side characters and daydream them into the storylines. I was drunk off the power of creation at 6...stationed in the eye of my paper tornado. You just come out that way I suppose.
As I grew, I dreamed about becoming a designer while poreing over the pages of Vogue, W, Mode Et Mode and streaming Tim Blanks interviews on Style.com nightly. I love the mechanics behind design- seeing what people can do with their hands and imagination is so moving. Fashion was a natural progression as I loved figure drawing so much.
Working commercially as a fashion illustrator over the past decade has brought many beautiful experiences and people into my life. Creating in collaboration allows for experimentation and travel, simultaneously expanding and refining my taste. I have a stronger sense of my artistic vision now.
I look up to cultural polymaths like Dali and Cecil Beaton whose styles permeated seamlessly across mediums. I see myself being rooted in fine art, occasionally taking on brand deals and design projects that spark my interest like they did. I'd be perfectly content doing this for the rest of my life.
On the Swans..
I fell in love with Catbird at our first meeting. Swans are steeped in fairytales and represent eternal love, beauty and overcoming awkward childhoods. I'm on board with all that so the idea for the logo came easy.
I saw it vividly in my mind as a fluid, swooping line and drafted it onto a piece of scrap tracing paper. I tried many versions after but never could recapture the spontaneity of the first draft so I went back and cleaned up the original. And that's how it was born...so happy and honored it's with you guys
I love jewelry for its beauty and ability to recall memories. Jewelry is small yet potent in all that it symbolizes... time, wealth, beauty and love - everything we hold precious.
I keep all the jewelry I own in a ballet pink Aspinal box. I've really taken time during the pandemic to consolidate and edit down my belongings. I'm really into investment pieces and started wearing larger stone rings and necklaces alone or mixed with minimal stacks. So I'd say my style is very curated and piece driven.
On her culture and how it influences her creative process..
I come from two ancient cultures and I've always felt like an old soul in my body.
The Poets of Persia taught me how to grace my awareness onto the fleeting moments and intimate details of life. Bending and expanding your perception is what art is all about.
The Chinese calligraphers and painters gave me lessons on balance, restraint, and visual aesthetics. What you leave out of a piece is just as important as what you put in.
I feel really lucky to be mixed raced. I inherited an openness to different possibilities of living early on. It's in that field of mental openness that creativity can thrive.
Describe your work in three words.
I'd like it to feel genuine, beautiful and eternal.
Where do you look for inspiration in LA and NYC?
It changes all the time since LA is massive but right now I'm on a floral kick with Little Tokyo, Flower District, Descanso Gardens, and the Huntington Library.
In New York I love browsing through Neue Galerie, MOMA, the MET , Doverstreet Market, and of course Catbird!
How will you be spending the holiday season?
My favorite way to celebrate is low-key in loose clothing , cooking, eating and being completely unfiltered with my loved ones.
And the bandana! How will you be styling it?
I am packing my lunches now since the studio is pretty secluded...I'm thinking a Furoshiki for my bentos - practical yet beautiful for everyday use. I hope everyone loves theirs!
Regina's Shopping Edit
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.
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