I’m so very pleased to share this lovely cookbook, Sunday Suppers, and author Karen Mordechai with you today. Karen is such a force – a talented woman who wears many hats in her business yet does it with such style and ease (and a warm smile) that you’d never know just how much work it really takes to run her company. In our chat today you’ll soon see that Karen’s passion motivates her to work so hard, to keep her business fresh, to propel it forward. With the support of her husband and the close relationship that she has built with her little girl, along with her friends, the online community and all of the local friends and businesses that she teams up with — there is no stopping this lovely woman from bringing good food, joy and beauty into the world.
Go-getters like Karen are a true inspiration. Karen knows what she wants and doesn’t veer off the path she’s made for herself and her business. Anyone who has watched her from the beginnings like I have, I still remember her first blog about her Brooklyn-based supper club, cannot help but be inspired and motivated by her success story, which now includes a shop and product line along with a #1 bestselling book on Amazon that is flying off the shelves despite being in the very saturated, competitive cookbook market.
It’s great to see a wife and a mother, an entrepreneur, an author, a visionary who still remains so humble and warm too. I’ve met with Karen a few times when I’ve been in New York and she has consistently been so kind and genuine. I’m so happy that Karen and I had a chance to talk recently and that I can share our conversation below because I love her new book and am so proud of her success with it thus far.
decor8: Karen, can you tell us about your background and about Sunday Suppers?
KM: Yes, of course. I am a trained photographer by trade, I have a masters in photography from the ICP + NYU. I am the founder of Sunday Suppers, a food and design community based in South Williamsburg Brooklyn. Our focus is on seasonal fare and simple, thoughtful living. Through shared meals and the act of cooking communally we celebrate the traditions of food and gathering. The food is seasonally focused market fresh. We work with local artisans and crafters to create seasonal dinners in our space. We host approximately 20 events each year between public and private suppers.
decor8: What do you do primarily for Sunday Suppers?
KM: I wear many hats — I style and produce the shoots as well as do a lot of the recipe development and cooking. I also collaborate with guest chefs to cook for events and classes at the studio. Sunday Suppers has been an opportunity to combine my love for food + cooking with styling and photography.
decor8: When was your company founded and why?
KM: Sunday Suppers started six years ago in our home. A few friends gathered at our apartment. We cooked and dined and made a toast. From there our dinners have evolved and we have grown into a beautiful new space, our community has expanded beyond our expectations. The concept however centers on simplicity and a love of food.
decor8: Tell us about your staff...
KM: We have a staff of about 6 people, one full-time creative assistant at the studio, myself and the rest are part-time or freelance positions.
decor8: Who supports you the most in your day-to-day life?
KM: My husband is my rock, he gives me stability and guidance and a good honest answer when needed.
decor8: You also rent your space, how does that work?
KM: During the week we use the studio as our home base for creating, working and doing our own shoots. If we are not using it however we do rent it out to others as a photo studio for shoots, some companies that shoot with us include Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Design Within Reach and some more.
decor8: Who are some of the most interesting people you’ve met at a supper? Why?
KM: We meet people from New York that we wouldn’t perhaps get to connect with otherwise but we also get to meet folks from around the world who either plan their trip around a supper or happen to be in town for one – those are the greatest connections we get to have and so amazing to know that our community stretches that far.
decor8: Do you imagine doing this forever or do you plan to evolve into something else or more? If so, can you share some of your future goals?
KM: Sunday Suppers has grown organically over the years – from a communal dinner series into a community of food + design. I believe organically we will continue to grow into those realms a bit more and I hope we do. Our shop and product line has become a new and very fun project for me personally and I hope to expand on that in the next year.
decor8: How did Sunday Suppers the cookbook come to life?
KM: I was approached many times actually to do a book, but about 3 years ago I was contacted by a lovely agent at Random House. I enjoyed working with her directly on the process, she guided me to be able to create the book I had in my mind for a long time.
decor8: Why is your book special to you, what really makes you happy about it?
KM: Sunday Suppers the cookbook, is a collection of intimate gatherings that we photographed across the country – they are small and more intimate gatherings for 4-6 people. I love that our recipes are beautiful and inspiring but at the same time super attainable and not overly fussy. The goal is to create a book that inspires our readers to cook and explore and find their own beauty in their lives.
decor8: Can you please tell us about your favorite recipes in the book?
KM: Every recipe has a story to me – the granola is one that we make at home and have been making for years, and so are a few others. Shakshuka is a childhood meal to me that is very nostalgic and comforting – and for a sweet tooth the date cake is near to my heart and just the most indulgent treat.
decor8 Do you have any fun stories that happened during production? Or stressful funny ones? Or big mess ups?
KM: I learned so much on the book shoots, some tales were funny and some not that funny at the time- we traveled a lot for the shoots and so something was always unexpected. Our first shoot was on the beach in Eastern Long Island and I remember lots going wrong, we couldn’t quite build our campfire – our wood was wet, etc and the meal was all to be prepared on an open fire. Eventually we figured it out and had a lovely evening on the beach, but we worked very hard on that one.
decor8: On a more personal note, Where do you live and what inspires you about your neighborhood?
KM: We live and work in South Williamsburg Brooklyn. Our apartment is on the waterfront, and so we are lucky to enjoy peaceful views of water and skyline from our apartment. The neighborhood is a little gritty and industrial but also filled with very good food, coffee and design shops. It has a good creative energy to it and there is always something new popping up around here.
decor8: Out of curiosity, I know that you have a young daughter. How do you fit it all in, mom and business owner?
KM: I have a four year old daughter named Sophia. She is absolutely everything to me and the most important part of my day. Balancing it all is always a challenge and so I just do my best to be a present mother, caring and engaged in all the details, and I also love working and being creative and teaching Sophia those lessons of strength and diligence. I find those to be equally important things to teach a young girl.
decor8: And finally Karen, why should people buy your book?
KM: I hope readers will find inspiration and a resource for cooking in my book. My goal was to create food that people can actually make at home and show people that they can think outside the box, pack a fried chicken picnic, go have some iced coffee on the beach – and just add a bit of joy and lightheartedness to cooking and gathering. Simplicity and enjoying good friends and good food is the ultimate goal.
Before we go, I have to share this lovely video that Design Within Reach had with Karen – such a great introduction to her work. I’m sure that you’ll enjoy it.
Thank you Karen for chatting with me and sharing your beautiful photography and book peaks with us today. Readers, if you want a copy of Karen’s book you can find it on Amazon HERE. Also, make sure you check out her newly launched website and if you’re ever in Brooklyn, definitely try to get to one of her beautiful events. Thanks again, Karen!
(images: sunday suppers)
You know how I was talking recently about buying a little home, a sweet cottage, somewhere in Germany, Denmark (or possibly the Dutch/German border near the coast) that we could visit some weekends and in the summer? I still haven’t decided where and when yet, but I stumbled upon this sweet and very tidy example of a cottage that could be a nice option only this one is for rent via Red Cottage Inc. and it’s a tad far from home now because it’s in Freehold, New York! But wow, doesn’t it look so European, like it’s been plucked straight from the French or English countryside? And so simply decorated.
Seeing this place and thinking further about buying a cottage has made me think that when I do find the perfect place, it needs to be decorated very simply and definitely uncluttered. In fact, I’ve been reading a great book about organizing and removing clutter from the home that my former book publicist, Lorraine Woodcheke, sent to me now that she’s working for Ten Speed Press called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Japanese de-cluttering expert and cleaning consultant Marie Kondo and I just love it. I’m working currently to apply it to my great annual spring clean that I’ll soon get started on.
This little book is already an international bestseller with millions of copies sold and is a best-seller in many parts of the world like the UK, US, Japan and Germany. Wow, I can see why the moment I started reading it back in October! It’s so easy to follow, compact and you get through it quickly — plus the most important part is that I found so much of what Marie said both practical and necessary.
Marie’s tips on sorting papers and storing books are ones I really need to listen to. Marie believes that, “Letting go is even more important than adding,” and “The fact that you possess a surplus of things that you can’t bring yourself to discard doesn’t mean you are taking good care of them. In fact, it is quite the opposite”.
She also believes that the things that we own, when we look at them, evokes emotion within us and that these very real feelings give us the energy for living and that putting your home in order can create a vibrant and happy life. I absolutely agree. Her book is so popular in Japan that it was turned into a television series. I had no idea that Japanese society had a problem with clutter!
Have you read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up? What did you think?
(images: red cottage inc. and seattle refined)
Thanks to my obsession with burning hours on Amazon while my baby snoozes, I found a new book (and new to me blog) called Deliciously Ella. Ella Woodwards, the young lady behind the blog, has created 100 dairy-free, gluten-free and sugar-free recipes that supposedly will make you feel great which is the most important thing in life right? Because your health, mental and physical, can really make or break you. I’ve been off of white and brown sugar and honey since January 6th and cut out most diary (I use rice, almond, coconut milk or oat milk now) and already feel so much better after the initial detox headaches and cravings subsided. I’m no longer in sloth-post-holiday mode. I’m ready to take on projects again with gusto and get movin’ at the gym. Health equals wealth and not just financially. When you feel great you become rich in so many other areas in your life. I’m learning that the reason why so many highly successful people are fit and work out daily is so they can stay or become more successful. It’s true. You get more accomplished when you feel amazing and your energy levels soar. Why do you think the fabulous Martha Stewart can sleep only 4 hours nightly for so many years and be such a powerhouse?
Ella’s personal story and motivation behind her work is quite inspirational, “In 2011, nineteen-year-old Ella Woodward was diagnosed with a rare illness that left her bed-ridden, in chronic pain, and plagued by heart palpitations and headaches. When conventional medicine failed her, Ella decided to change her diet. She gave up meat, gluten, dairy, sugar, and anything processed—and the effects were immediate: her symptoms disappeared, her energy returned, and she was able to go off all her medication. A self-confessed sweet tooth, Ella taught herself how to make delicious, plant-based meals that delight the palette and improve overall well-being.” Sounds wonderful! This book promises simple prep and raw, natural ingredients so I’m definitely going to grab a copy and start using it. Here is a peak inside of Deliciously Ella below straight from Anthropologie, where you can purchase it or buy it on Amazon UK (with cover shown in this post) or on Amazon US with a different cover, same content.
Now to share with you a few books that I do own and love that share the same approach to eating healthy.
1. It’s All Good by Gwyneth Paltrow and Julia Turschen (Amazon US/Amazon UK)– I love that Julia lost a lot of weight eating the foods in this book while creating it. When someone loses weight writing a health cookbook I feel like ka-pow! That’s the book for me! Julia made it a huge draw because I love GP but she is so perfect that I often feel like she’s just not relatable in all of her gorgeousness (I mean did you see her at the Oscars in that fantastic pink Michael Kors dress? How can we compete?), but Julia is one of us and is also super gorgeous minus a full staff and access to top trainers and fitness gurus and unlimited cash. Don’t get me wrong, GP rocks and she is why I bought the book in the first place, but learning about Julia through the pages of It’s All Good instantly made it my fave go-to guide for healthy eating. That combined with all of the book photography by one of my top five photographers in the world, Danish-born Ditte Isager, and I was hooked. Plus I got my hands on a signed, dedicated copy from GP herself so hey, I can’t complain. In fact, I tell everyone about this book and even buy it for my friends. You can see some of the gorgeous pics in this book on Ditte’s blog.
2. Honestly Healthy by Natasha Corrett (Amazon US or Amazon UK – German version here which I also have). British-born Natasha turned me on to OMbar (chocolate sweetened with coco milk) and I just love some of her recipes in this book and her amazing website and videos, too. I’m dying to attend one of her supper clubs or cooking classes in London because meeting her would be interesting since her mom is Kelly Hoppen and I think Kelly is just the best but even more, I just want to watch her cook and learn some new tips. I actually love the idea of scheduling a private cooking class with Natasha and a few of my dear friends, this would be so much fun and would make for a great blog story, don’t you think? Perhaps I’ll connect with her for a story like that as I’m looking to bring more lifestyles to decor8 this year that encourage us all to life our best life. I like Natasha’s cookbook because it lives alongside her online content so I feel close to her – like I can watch a video (What’s In My Fridge is so great), flip through her book, make her recipes, read her blog, follow her on Instagram, etc. It’s dynamic, alive, fresh. I love when authors have a very active online presence and do video work too (if they are, in fact, good on camera and not awkward of course. I often wonder if I’d be good or awkward, I have to try it for my next book and you can let me know). It just brings it all together.
In addition to these three titles above, has anyone picked up a copy of Nourish by Amber Rose, Holly Davidson and Sadie Frost yet? I’m in love with the cover, it makes me so SO happy. I love lifestyle book covers with either photos of people or multiple lifestyle photos so you get a preview of what’s to follow on the pages inside. The cover alone for Nourish makes it very interesting to me to look into further.
What is your favorite cookbook at the moment? Have you made any health or fitness goals for the year? Tell me about them. I’d love to know what you’re doing.
Here’s to better health for us all in 2015! And congrats to Ella for the new book and much success to you!
I have a GREAT giveaway for interiors enthusiasts out there today. You can win one of FIVE copies of the stunning brand new title by stylist and art director Hans Blomquist, IN DETAIL, from Ryland Peters + Small. Photographed by both Hans and professional photographer (on the world’s best) Debi Treloar, this is THE coffee table book of the moment. Would you like to WIN a copy? C’mon, of course you would! And since it doesn’t release until next week – and I’m kicking off his blog tour online – 5 days, 5 bloggers — I’m also including a book review and some brand new images from the book to feast your eyes upon that you can pin and click on for a larger view.
I’ve snapped a photo of the book on my coffee table above so you can see how lovely it really looks as a decorative object in addition to a learning tool.
About the author: Hans Blomquist is a renowned art director and stylist whose evocative, painterly style is highly sought after by a multitude of prestigious brands. Hans started out working for IKEA in Sweden at the tender age of 16 and ended up art directing their catalogue. He then moved to London, where he was based for eleven years working as a freelance art director for clients such as Harrods, Marks & Spencer and John Lewis. Hans now lives in Paris where he recently directed campaigns for H&M, Monoprix and Zara.
Description: In Detail takes a closer look at the details behind international interiors stylist and art director Hans Blomquist’s unique and idiosyncratic take on the world. In hundreds of ravishingly beautiful, inspiring pictures, he encourages the reader to see the world through his own eyes, revealing the possibilities in even the humblest of items and putting together pieces to create striking, painterly and evocative rooms and displays. Chapter by chapter, Hans focuses on and discusses the key ingredients of his distinctive look: Nature, Texture, Colour, Textiles, Collecting and Display. He explains the creative process, offers up his own treasures and puts inspiring ideas for beautiful interiors within every reader’s reach.
5 Things I Liked About This Book:
- I love that it is split into the very details that make a house a home. Nature, Texture, Color, Textiles, Collections and Display.
- I love the paper quality, the jacket image, the jacket texture, the size, the overall quality of the book makes me happy.
- The moody, gorgeous photography – each photo has a cinematic feel to it – like you are watching a gorgeous film.
- That Hans has a conversation with the reader. He doesn’t ramble on and on. He gives food for thought. Lots of it.
- Hans offers styling tips and ideas throughout. He doesn’t show, he also tells. Often stylists have a hard time putting into words what it is that they do, which often means that books by stylists can lack real advice and are mostly filled with inspirational imagery. These days, we can get all of that on Pinterest and blogs. Content is king. What does the author have to teach? Knowledge is what I think we’re going for when we buy interiors books today. Hans doesn’t show elaborate step-by-step projects for any of his ideas, but he does talk through the images explaining the thinking behind how he has styled it or what you, the reader, could try at home yourself.
5 Things That I Learned By Reading This Book:
- I learned that you can take a large branch and simply prop it against your wall at home or turn it into a lamp by wrapping a long cord around a couple of the stronger branches, adding a decorating light bulb to, “create an unusual and cozy corner” (page 28).
- You can make plant pots for growing cuttings or smaller plants using newspaper. I love this idea! (page 37)
- Vintage wooden clothes pegs can be used to display posters instead of picture frames (page 51).
- Use painted backdrops in a home because they are a, “brilliant way to add interest to an interior, and they can be repainted at any time to ring the changes” (page 87).
- Use luggage labels and rubber stamps to make hand-printed labels to kitchen storage jars. Simple tie them with twine (page 186).
5 Ways I’d Like To Use This Book:
- To wrap in brown paper and give as a gift.
- To showcase on my coffee table.
- And later, to display on my bookcase with his first book, The Natural Home, published in 2012. My review of The Natural Home can be found here.
- To read it from cover to cover and try to apply some of the ideas.
- To identify some of the vintage objects that I like and hunt for them at the local flea market.
Now it’s time for FIVE of you to win a copy of this book! The contest will wrap up on Friday October 17th at 11 am EST and I will announce the winners at the end of the day this Friday. To enter, please leave your first name, blog URL (if you have one) and tell us what 5 things you love about interiors books in general.
UPDATE Oct 18, 2014: Winners have been chosen and will be contacted. Books will be sent to winners directly from Ryland, Peters and Small in London. A warm thank you to all who entered. Comments on this post have now been closed.