Donatella Arpaia, that is. You may have visited one of her many numerous restaurants, seen her sitting next to Jeffrey Steingarten as one of the judges on Iron Chef America or recognize her as the winner of Meatball Madness, beating out chefs like Andrew Carmellini. She returns to the New York Food and Wine Festival September 29th to defend her title. We caught up with her before her meatball battle and next big project: the birth of her baby! Read on to see what pregnant chefs crave and her favorite munchies in New York City.
The Daily Obsession: Legend has it that you used to be a corporate lawyer before going into food. How did you decide to make the switch and why? Were you wrestled with indecision?
Donatella Arpaia: I grew up in the restaurant business and my father and brother are both restaurateurs so it’s in my DNA, but from early on I was encouraged to be a lawyer. I enjoyed the study of law but hated the practice of it. At the time I was living in a small studio above my brotherls restaurant, Cellini on 54th st. I was grabbing a bite at the bar when I saw my brother needed help because his hostess didn’t show up I got up and pitched in. That was it! I knew at that moment I needed to change directions. I struggled a bit because I studied so hard and a lot was invested in my education, but really, I had no doubt about the change of course I was about to embark on. I never looked back!
TDO: For many people, pursuing a career in food is a dream—what advice would you give to them for success?
DA: Food is a wonderful and exciting ride but many people have only a very limited idea of what the reality of this industry is like. It’s hard ! I recommend they work in area of food they are interested in to get a really good taste of the reality of this industry. You must be extremely committed and passionate to succeed. READ MORE
Now that the biggest wedding of the year is behind us (minus that tiny little royal one), the details keep rolling in. You can say a lot of things about the Kardashians, but they know how to work their fame into…well basically anything (reality show, OPI nail polish collaboration, self-tanner line, almost credit card.) The newest emerging wedding detail is a sweet gift that the newlyweds left for hotel guests: a personalized assortment of Georgetown Cupcakes. Monogrammed with the K and K logo, guests like Maria Menounos got to try a half dozen cupcakes: Red Velvet, Lava Fudge, Salted Caramel, Peanut Butter Fudge, Chocolate Coconut, and Vanilla with Vanilla Buttercream.
I’ve wanted to try Georgetown Cupcakes after reading Sara’s early write-up and watching their TLC reality show, DC Cupcakes. Yes, NYC is quickly approaching max cupcake saturation, but with the arrival of Sprinkles this year, it’s only fitting that the other cupcake heavyweight enters SoHo in Winter 2011. Until then!
Recently we had a chance to chat with Washington Post food & travel editor Joe Yonan who recently published the book Serve Yourself – a guide to cooking for one. As a single New York gal, I’ve often struggled with figuring out exactly what and how to make my own dinner. Yes, it sounds silly- but I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve actually developed a strategy for ordering off Seamlessweb. So I was eager to read Joe’s new book and jumped at the chance to find out a little bit more about the man himself- and his life in food and travel. READ MORE
Need a little help for Valentine’s Day? Here are our suggestions for this year!
Annie Band — We fell in love with Annie Band’s Vintage Coral Glass Cabochon Ring at first sight. What makes it even more desirable? This made to order ring has “live” inscribed inside the band, custom inscriptions also available to ensure a personal touch. This comfortable fit ring gives off subtle glamour with its intricate vintage details and femininity. Available online at www.annieband.com for $368.
Olia — Everyone should have a personal mantra close to their heart! Olia’s Make Love Necklace, is an affordable and adorable keepsake. Simple yet statement making, this necklace is perfect for your former flower child mother whose heart will melt when she unwraps and discovers this special token on Valentine’s Day. Have a new mother to shop for or a friend expecting? The Make Babies Necklace will make them smile. Each hand stamped charm necklace is $47, available in gold and sterling silver.
Knock Knock — Knock Knock has plenty of playful and witty giftables under $5 this Valentine’s Day that are guaranteed to please. Already committed? Spice things up with their Sweet Nothing notepad ($3.75) and let your loved one know exactly what you’re thinking in one concise sticky note! Looking for love? The Paper Pick Up pad ($4.50) keeps things simple – the paper version of speed dating that allows you to show interest while saving face. READ MORE
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying everyone probably likes flowers, chocolate and/or fragrance as a Valentine’s Day gift. But do they LOVE it? Well, “mind-blowing” might not be the first thing I’d think … more like “predictable, but sweet. I’ll take it.” Leave it to Strange Invisible Perfumes to prove me wrong. Their creative take on the ol’ tried and true is simply eye-popping. (Oh men of our lives, are you reading this?!?)
A team effort with floral designer Holly Flora and San Francisco-based chocolate artisan Cocoa Absolute, SIP’s “ultimate Valentine’s Day delivery” offers four options of drop-dead gorgeous, creative bouquets paired with limited-edition organic, botanical perfumes and a delectable box of hand-crafted chocolates. (Just outside of L.A.? Call and see if they’ll make the trip.)
While pricey ($205–$542), the results are absolutely swoon-worthy. In addition, the flowers can be customized by request (if what you want is available), and since the chocolates are optional, you can always adjust according to your budget.
P.S. If you’re in the neighborhood, drop by SIP’s Venice, Calif., boutique tomorrow (Feb. 5) for a trunk show. There will be champagne, cupcakes, jewelry and plenty of limited edition fragrances to sample before you take the plunge!
Strange Invisible Perfumes is located at 1138 Abbot Kinney Blvd. in Venice, Calif. To order a V-Day delivery, call them at 310-314-1505 by February 11, 2011.
If you’re looking for a delicious treat to give someone this Valentine’s Day (or to use to drown your own romantic sorrows with), head over to Williams-Sonoma and pick up their Checkerboard Marshmallows. They’re made by hand using a recipe that was developed in 1889 (you might’ve also heard them called “Modjeskas” in honor of a Polish actress). The handmade marshmallows are each dipped in caramel and in the box, you’ll get two versions – one dipped in the traditional caramel recipe and the other dipped in a Guittard dark chocolate-infused caramel. As someone who already loves marshmallows, this just takes that food to a whole new level of deliciousness. It’s such a decadent combination – the soft texture of the marshmallow brings out the sweetness of the caramel it’s covered with, but it’s not so sweet that it’ll make your teeth ache. (I find that it’s literally the perfect sweetness for me because I can eat one – or maybe two! – and be completely satisfied, so it’s not like some candy where you start eating it and before you know it, the whole box is gone). And I love that they’re still made the old-fashioned way – each one is hand poured, hand dipped, and hand wrapped, so you know they’re made with love.
Each box has 20 marshmallows – 10 of each flavor – so while it’s a little bit of a splurge at $26.50, it’s totally worth it. (They also give you a good excuse to go shopping at Williams-Sonoma, since they’re exclusively sold there). They’re a treat that’s completely worth the calories!
So, after all those holiday cookies and hangovers, CLEANSE and DETOX appear to be the buzz words of the month. (And judging by the fact that two local Borders stores were sold out of Dr. Alex Junger’s “Clean” book, I think all of L.A. has jumped on the bandwagon.) Prompted by my curious husband (who despite feeling sluggish after the new year was suspicious of the detox trend), I enlisted us in a cleansing experiment: 5 days of raw-food-eating and 2 days of Lori C. Kenyon and Marra O. St. Clair’s Ritual Cleanse — an Irvine, Calif.-based juice cleansing program designed to “reset” the body.
Now, I know, some people do “Beyonce’s maple syrup diet” for well over a week, and many follow Dr. Junger’s advice (endorsed by Gwyneth Paltrow) for at least three weeks, but honestly, feeling faint, weak, mucus-y and stuck with a headache is not my idea of a good time … no matter how skinny, light or euphoric I’m supposed to feel. One week of abstaining from all the things I love about food — caffeine, all meat, refined sugar, dairy, alcohol, soy, wheat, gluten — was about all I could stomach. That’s why I chose this route. With raw food, we got to eat a bunch of vegetables and feel full; and with Ritual Cleanse, we didn’t have to prepare meals (vegetables are time-consuming!) and worry whether we did so correctly.
As I type this, an exclusive state-side preview auction is concluding at Sotheby’s Beverly Hills for a one-of-a-kind Lalique “Cire Perdue” Decanter containing the oldest and rarest Macallan ever bottled, a 64-year-old Macallan Single Malt Whisky.
Reportedly “history in the making,” the event, hosted by The Macallan Brand Ambassador Eden Algie (yes, he’s really Scottish), gives the winning bidder the chance to be the first person in the U.S. to own The Macallan 64. (And, can we just note how gorgeous the crystal artisan bottle is?)
For a scotch connoisseur, this is a big deal. For a gal like me who likes to watch “Mad Men,” sit in vintage leather wingback chairs and engage in witty conversation with scotch connoisseurs, this is a thrilling pipe dream. And for charity: water, a nonprofit organization that brings drinking water to people in developing nations, it means more than $100,000 of support collected at auctions throughout the world over the course of eight months.
Discerning New Yorkers out there who want to contribute to this great cause and catch a glimpse of the bottle above before it ends up on someone’s private bar can still attend the charity: water grand auction event at Sotheby’s New York on November 15. Interested in bidding? Send an email to email@example.com. Or for more information, go to http://www.charitywater.org/themacallan/. For the rest of us, here’s a quick scotch lesson:
I’ve been pretty obsessed with Pinkberry ever since the first time I tried it – as evidenced by the fact that on more than one occasion (okay, more than ten occasions) I’ve waited in line for over 30 minutes just to get my fix. I was beyond excited when one opened within walking distance of my apartment and I’m constantly using it as motivation to go run boring errands that I really don’t feel like taking care of because I always treat myself to it when I’m done. That’s why I was super excited when I got a chance to preview their new Pumpkin Pinkberry holiday flavor. I was a little scared that it was going to be the flavor that broke my Pinkberry obsession because I just wasn’t sure how well Pinkberry and pumpkin would go together, but I was totally wrong. It’s the perfect blend of sweet and tart, very light and refreshing, but with a pumpkin tang that lingers on your tongue. Delish! Pinkberry is pairing it with a few new toppings – crunchy honey graham crackers, their new Pinkberry Swirly Whip (a fluffy whipped cream they make fresh daily) and a dusting of cinnamon to finish it off. I usually get the original flavor with strawberries and chocolate chips, but this is such a different taste combo – the crunchy graham crackers go really well with the pumpkin flavor and the whipped cream is light and full of flavor. I’m going to be obsessively stopping to pick this up, especially since it’s only available through the end of the year.
In addition to the new Pumpkin flavor, Pinkberry is also bringing back Pomegranate Seeds as a topping for the holiday season and they’ve just introduced Pinkberry Take Home containers, so you can stop at any of the stores and bring it home with you. (So, so dangerous for me!) To find a Pinkberry location near you, visit www.Pinkberry.com.
The Daily Obsession draws from the expertise of a coast-to-coast editorial team offering dedicated readers reports of the most luxurious products and trends. We provide sophisticated and relevant angles on the latest fashion trends, must-have beauty products, insider interviews, travel destinations and of course, our current obsessions.