Friend of a Friend’s editors got the chance to visit with guest editor Lauren Gerrie at her Alphabet City apartment, where they discussed her unique career trajectory and kitchen secrets—all while Lauren prepared a festive feast. Read the interview below and check out the photos from the afternoon.
When I was a kid I was a ballerina with the Joffrey [Ballet] and I was doing stuff in Southern California…when I was in high school I was dancing in a lot of contemporary companies and I moved to New York and went to Marymount Manhattan and was dancing professionally—while also working in restaurants. My first job was a hostess, and then I was a server. It’s almost like the parallel to a performer…you’re constantly on stage with people and having to adapt and put on a show for them and I always loved that.
In New York, I was working a lot of jobs, cocktailing and bartending, and I was just like, ‘I want to be a chef. I know I want to work in this industry,’ I actually hit up some family friends in Italy who owned a bed and breakfast, and I asked to work for them for the summer. They put me up, and I didn’t get paid, but it was magical.
I had met Flannery [Klette-Kolton, business partner] right before leaving. We did a dinner party for a friend of our in Gramercy—it was Great Gatsby-themed. We ended up cooking for eighty people, which was incredible. We got tons of great feedback and we started the company the next week. We’re thankful for the fact that we just jumped into it not knowing anything about the industry. There was no other way for us to do it.”
Friend of a Friend: I know cooking is very therapeutic, but how do you stay balanced? Is there something else that you find solace in?
Lauren Gerrie: It’s funny, I don’t think that cooking is therapeutic for me. I’m very focused. Sometimes baking is, because it’s so specific and you have to be organized and accurate, and I like that because it’s like, ‘I can only focus on this right now and if I direct my attention somewhere else, this wont work.’ I’m a big physical person so I have to get out that, if I’m emotional or stressed or anything like that it has to be, I have to physically get it out. Exercising is the way that I stay sane.
FOAF: What are your favorite utensils to use in the kitchen?
LG: My hands. My hands are definitely my favorite utensil. After that, knives.
FOAF: What is your favorite at-home meal to make?
LG: At home, I like making things that are easy: eggs, salad, things like that. I love making soups in my Vitamix—I think everyone should have one, it’s just so easy. I definitely make a lot of salads at home. That’s pretty much what my boyfriend and I like to eat. I don’t do a lot of stovetop, because my apartment has poor ventilation.
FOAF: What are some of your favorite ingredients to cook with?
LG: I love coconut oil…and salts, I’m a huge fan of different salts. I just got these two new incredible salts from Chelsea Market. Honey, obviously, those are the things you can kind of see are my go-to. I love heat, so I cook with a lot of spices and fresh chilies. I think it’s from having growing up with Japanese and Mexican food.
FOAF: What’s your favorite thing to cook for thanksgiving?
LG: Turkey Confit. That’s a tradition that we kind of started doing when we began doing brunch and it’s so easy. I’ve never been a turkey fan, the breast meat is so boring, so I was just like, Let’s do the technique of confit!” And everybody is happy, no matter if you’re cooking dark meat or light meat, it all has this intense flavor. That’s really fun.
FOAF: What’s your guilty pleasure meal or snack?
LG: I am a big pastry person, so any sort of cookies…cookies or pies. I love crusts. My grandmother is British, and she’s the one who really taught me to do pastry work. We used to just do that together, making incredible pie dough and tarts and custards. Crème brulee, I could have that for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Or ice cream. When I was a pastry chef at Diner, in the morning I had to be there at like 5:30 AM, and when I was going to make coffee I would sample all of the ice creams.
FOAF: Who is one person you’re dying to cook a meal for?
LG: Stevie Nicks. In all fairness, that is also Flannery’s person, so she can have Stevie Nicks. If I could cook for anybody? That’s tough…I mean, I love cooking for my mom and dad because I don’t get to do that often. That’s really special for me.