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)