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Jody Williams Starts with Dessert, Collects Everything

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We're sitting down with our favorite writers and cooks to talk about their upcoming cookbooks, their best food memories, and just about anything else.

Today: This week's Guest Editor, Buvette's Jody Williams, talks to us about her first cookbook -- and all the things that she collects in her kitchen. 


Jody Williams Buvette Cookbook

Tiny and beloved, Buvette is the sort of New York restaurant where everything is vintage, everything is pretty, and even if you're not in the neighborhood, you'll trek to the West Village to tuck yourself in -- among pairs of friends chatting over glasses of Champagne and triangles of tarte tatin -- for a coffee, a snack, or a dainty plate of leeks vinaigrette. In her first cookbook, Chef and owner Jody Williams has transcribed this ethos onto pages, and translated her recipes for the home cook.

Buvette is the sort of cookbook you'd like to live inside, rustic and cozy, elegant but not unattainably so. Williams talks you through more complicated classic dishes (Tarte Tatin, Coq au Vin), but also provides treatises on coffee and tea, a well-stocked bar, and homemade mayonnaise. She gives you "A Little Advice on Hams." Her basics never feel obvious.

Williams' cooking is informed by time spent cooking in Italian kitchens, and a deep love of Paris; her focus is on pleasure and simplicity with a nod to aesthetics. Read on for a peek into her kitchen, the story of her first forays into cooking for others, and a chance to win your own copy of Buvette. It will make your cookbook shelf feel a little bit more French, with a side of Negroni for good measure. 

More: Start embedding your eggs with salt and wrapping them in parchment, Buvette-style.

Boiled Eggs with Seasoned Salt on Food52

Buvette is loved in an almost cultish way -- what do you think it is about the restaurant that has created such a loyal and passionate following? How did you translate this into your cookbook?
My intention was to create a place that was dedicated to the enjoyment of food and drink, with one rule: to do what we love. The book is filled with the same recipes that we love.  

Also, as it’s made up of antique, vintage, and found things, Buvette has a sense of nostalgia and familiarity -- like you may have been there before. I think the lovely guests themselves are an important part of the charm, too.

What was the biggest challenge in producing this book?
Finding the self confidence to share stories, opinions, and recipes.  

What’s the best entertaining advice you’ve ever gotten?
When preparing the meal, start with dessert and work your way to the appetizers. 

More: Cake is always a good place to start.

Almost Flourless Chocolate Cake on Food52

You’re a self-taught chef; do you remember the first thing you ever learned to cook?
The first meal I ever made for someone was for my mother. I was 7 years old, and I surprised her and a friend with beefsteak tomatoes stuffed with tuna salad for lunch.  

Once, I made French toast for all the kids in the neighborhood -- one whole loaf of Wonder bread disappeared in an hour. I remember the front door wide open, everyone running in and out…my mother was shocked when she got home and all the eggs, milk, and bread were gone. I was probably ten years old at the time.

If you could describe the food of Buvette in five words, what would they be?
Delicious, unpretentious, comforting, traditional, enjoyable.

French Rolling Pin on Food52  Egg Cups on Provisions by Food52

What do you collect in your kitchen?
What don’t I collect? Here is my list: paring knives, madeleine pans, corkscrews, wooden spoons, French rolling pins, flax linens, aprons, Enamel bowls, silver trays, hotel ware, Champagne buckets, picnic baskets, vintage ice chests, crockery, wooden clothespins, egg cups, Ginori, pasta cutters, bread boards...

We're giving away a copy of Buvette every day this week! To enter to win today's copy, tell us in the comments: What do you collect in your kitchen? Winners will be announced this Friday, April 25th.

Buvette photos by Gentl & Hyers. Cake photo by Eric Moran. All other photos by James Ransom.

Tags: interview, cookbooks, books, Buvette, Jody Williams, French, Paris, New York,

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