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For this week's Cook Spotlight, we decided to do something a little different. Yes, Martine Trelaun is an excellent cook, but she also works behind the scenes as food52's Shop Editor, scouting out and curating the daily food, garden and tabletop selections for our Shop. Read our Q&A with Martine below to learn more about where she gets her knack for great food and design.
- Martine in Santa Cruz with a basket of tomatoes (left), and her kitchen, as seen from her dining room (check out that fab orange KitchenAid!)
What do you do for a living?
I'm a graphic designer, a yoga teacher and the Shop Editor for food52.
How do you find all the cool stuff that goes into the food52 Shop?
Some of the stuff I bump into during my walks around New York City, some I discover when I'm travelling. It's sort of the same way online -- one Google search multiplies into a zillion tabs in my browser! I also have to credit Amanda, Merrill, Kristen and Emily at food52, food52's users, and friends for sending terrific recommendations my way. I'm an inveterate shopper and I love research, so I'm constantly bookmarking things -- in my head, on my iPhone, or online -- for inclusion in the shop.
What's your favorite cooking tool?
It's a toss-up between the tea ball (I drink a lot of tea) and the microplane (I'm obsessive compulsive about zesting.)
If you could design a tabletop item, what would it be?
Hmm. Can I eliminate a tabletop item, instead? I'd like to do away with the bread plate. I think crumbs are totally underappreciated.
How do you like to entertain?
Often! This is something I learned from my parents who had dinner parties all the time when I was a kid. It's one of my favorite ways to spend time with the people I love. What gets cooked depends a lot on how much time I have to plan, but one thing is a constant: there will be dessert.
Where do you live and shop regularly?
I live in Brooklyn, in what I like to call Carroll Gardens Adjacent, but is actually known in real estate parlance as Columbia Street Waterfront District. I'm spoiled by the great shops nearby: Sahadi's, Trader Joe's, Union Market, Staubitz Market, Cobblestone Foods, Stinky Bklyn, Heights Chateau... the list goes on. For gift items, I love Brooklyn Collective, a small gallery/store that showcases local artists' and designers' work. They're housed within General Nightmare, a cool place for vintage furniture.
Describe an early food experience that has influenced the way you think about food and/or cooking.
I spent a lot of my early childhood in France, and every Saturday my Uncle Michel would ask me which tart he should get "chez Valentin" for Sunday's lunch. I always asked for strawberry or apricot, and it was Michel who explained that I could have those my birthday (in May) but that in October, I had to pick something that was in season, like apple or pear.
In the mornings I would play with the neighbor's bunnies, and at lunch, I wouldn't freak out like my sisters did when we were served lapin.
What is your idea of comfort food?
Anything that reminds me of something I devoured as a kid: my mother's roasted potatoes, my father's stuffed breast of veal, my aunt Pauline's tomato salad... even a middling croque monsieur can make me happy.
What's your least favorite food?
I eat everything, but raw garlic or enormous quantities of cooked garlic make me want to kill myself.
Describe your most spectacular kitchen disaster.
There have been so many flops! One time, I slid a pizza from the oven onto the floor. Another time, I added orange to mashed potatoes. The worst might be the time my mother commanded me to make salad dressing, and I grabbed a bottle of oil that had gone rancid. "Didn't you taste it first?" she yelled. Uh, lesson learned...
Your desert island meal?
First, a kir. Then, a medium rare steak with a tiny bit of Béarnaise; pencil thin, crispy fries; salad followed by a crazy-ass cheese course. Lots of Pomerol. And finally, dessert: a tarte aux fraises or my mother's crème caramel.
- Martine's living and dining room (left), and her gorgeous rendition of Jim Lahey's No-Knead Bread
What we turn to in the kitchen
13 essential cooking apps.
Paint your kitchen in one day.
We've got the summer blues.
How to cook with herb stems.
A better basket.