#THATSWHATSHESAID: DIANA YEN, JEWELS OF NEW YORK
As I approach another birthday, I'm still in awe of the fact that I'll be celebrating in a NYC for the second year (third, if you count turning 21 the day after wrapping my internship at VOGUE). To bring in this personal new year, I've taken to revisiting some of my favorite gems, throughout my own my hood and Manhattan.
It only seemed fitting to feature Diana Yen, of The Jewels of New York, this Friday. Her book rings so true to the ethos of her business and my current mood: Make the most of what you got, and some pretty amazing stuff can come of it.
Q1: Best gift you received? Who gave it to you?
My sister gave me a Laguiole pocket knife for my last birthday. I love it because it’s so handy to have when I visit the farmer’s market. There’s nothing like being able to cut open a ripe piece of fruit whenever I please. And it’s the best tool to have in my back pocket for when I’m on shoots.
Q2: Best gift you gave? Who did you give it to?
I make ice cream for my best friend Quy every year on his birthday. He’s an object collector, so there’s nothing he doesn’t already have. He loves tropical flavors so I usually make dessert with coconut, passion fruit, or mango flavors. I love giving homemade food as gifts because it’s a rarity when you live in a city like NYC. You can go out and buy just about anything you’d want, but knowing that someone you love made something from scratch is always more special.
Q3: Most meaningful project thus far?
My first cookbook, A Simple Feast, is the most meaningful project I’ve done. It was the first time I had total creative freedom to do anything I wanted. There was so much pleasure, ups and downs that went into the work. I wanted to be able to share my vision for food but also relate to the reader and create recipes that were for everyday cooking. After working on it for a year and a half, it was incredible to hold this physical object in my hands and be able to share it with others. Everything we do is so digital these days, to make something that lasts longer is always special.
Q4: Self talk motto(s) for staying motivated?
“It seems to me that our three basic needs, for food and security and love, are so mixed and mingled and entwined that we cannot straightly think of one without the others. So it happens that when I write of hunger, I am really writing about love and the hunger for it, and warmth and the love of it and the hunger for it… and then the warmth and richness and fine reality of hunger satisfied… and it is all one.”
― M.F.K. Fisher, The Art of Eating: 50th Anniversary Edition
Q5: Pre-party rituals?
I’ve always liked getting ready to go out with other people, usually we’ll pre-party by popping open a bottle of bubbly and figure out what we’re wearing beforehand. I know it’s girly, but I grew up with sisters so I appreciate hanging out in a small group beforehand. It’s the best time to connect.
Q6: Go-to items for a summer tablescape?
In the summer, I like white breezy linens and wild flowers on the tabletop. I’ve been spending most of my weekends upstate this summer. There’s nothing quite like being barefoot outside, picking berries and spending the afternoon baking a pie. And of course eating it with a big scoop of ice cream while it’s warm.