Baker Yossy Arefi Would Choose Salty Over Sweet Any Day

April 27, 2018

Welcome to My Life at Home, where we slow down for just a minute to share a glimpse into the lives of food lovers we'd love to get to know better. Kick off your shoes and get comfy!

Hello, Yossy! Photo by Elizabeth Suzann

Lofty, yeasted buns. Dreamy, swooshy cakes. And perfectly crimped pie crusts. Every. Dang. Time. Photographer and baker Yossy Arefi's Instagram feed is the stuff of dreams, inspiring and down-to-earth all at once—just like her.

There’s a sense of quiet calm that surrounds Yossy, who started the popular Apt. 2B Baking Co. blog in 2010 as a way to showcase her dual passions of photography and baking. The Seattle native moved to New York in 2007, ditching culinary school plans and instead putting in years as a baker and cake decorator in restaurant kitchens before trading in her apron for a camera full-time, in what’s proven to be a fruitful move.

Peekaboo―we see you! Photo by Christine Han for Pantry Confidential

It wasn’t long after her blog took off that a book deal soon followed, and sure enough, Sweeter off the Vine: Fruit Desserts for Every Season landed on the scene, celebrating Yossy’s love for nature and seasonal produce, including nods to her upbringing in the Pacific Northwest with an American mother and Iranian father. (Psst, you can also keep track of her sweet and savory creations here on the site where she often contributes.)

Left: Yossy's saffron pistachio shortbread cookies. | Right: A signature Yossy pie. Photo by Christine Han for Pantry Confidential

These days, she keeps busy with all of her ambitious projects (which includes coordinating swoonworthy photo retreats in Paris) and calls a peaceful, light-filled Brooklyn apartment home, along with her boyfriend, Pete; cat, Abigail; and dog, Arlo. Come take a peek and try hard not to fall for Yossy’s easygoing style.

Yossy's tidy, bright, and serene kitchen. Photo by Christine Han for Pantry Confidential

HANA ASBRINK: I know you spend time a lot of time developing recipes at home. What do you do to create a functional, inspiring living space?

YOSSY AREFI: I try to keep things tidy. I find that having a clean and fairly minimal home gives me the space to let my mind wander and work on creative projects. If the sink is full of dishes or the laundry basket is overflowing, I'll get focused on that and won't have the mental space to do other things.

We can only imagine how many pie doughs have gotten their starts here. (PS: Yossy put this backsplash up herself!) Photo by Christine Han for Pantry Confidential

HA: How do you like to spend your down time?

YA: I take pottery classes whenever I have time. It is so satisfying to drink coffee out of a mug I made!

HA: What's a typical evening at home like?

YA: I switch into comfy clothes the minute I walk in the door and we (my boyfriend Pete, Abigail our cat, and Arlo the dog) all usually hang on the couch and watch a TV show. I am trying to get back into the habit of reading before bed, too, but I'm not quite there yet.

HA: How often do you cook for yourself?

YA: Almost every day, but I hate doing the dishes afterwards.

Where the magic happens. Photo by Christine Han for Pantry Confidential

HA: What are your favorite Food52 recipes?

YA: I like to check out what's up with Genius Recipes. Marcella Hazan's Rice and Smothered Soup is a favorite, as is Victoria Granof's Pasta con Ceci. Alice Medrich's column is also always great―her Cocoa Brownies are legendary.

HA: Okay, Miss Baker, but we have to know: Do you run more savory or sweet?

YA: I love to bake, but I love to eat savory foods more. I'd choose salty snacks over sweet any day.

HA: What do you make for yourself to get out of a funk?

YA: Anything new and unusual. I rarely cook from cookbooks, but I use them for inspiration constantly. I'll also take a stroll through the farmers market to see if there's anything new.

Some of Yossy's most treasured cookbooks. Photo by Christine Han for Pantry Confidential

HA: We know you love the changing of the seasons! How are you welcoming spring into your home?

YA: Tulips! They are cheap and cheerful, and you can usually get them at the supermarket this time of year. I also love rhubarb, but we don't get it locally until the end of May.

HA: Okay, tell me about your adorable pets. Who rules the roost, and how was the transition from one pet to two?

YA: Our cat Abigail is almost 12, and our dog Arlo is almost 2; we've had both of them since they were about 10 weeks old. Bringing Abigail home was a pretty smooth transition. She's always been pretty chill and doesn't do any naughty cat stuff like jump on counters or knock things over.

Arlo was a big adjustment because well, puppies are puppies and they just need a lot. He is the nicest dog though: very sweet, cuddly, and mellow at home, but also super friendly and playful.

Left: Little brother Arlo. / Right: Sweet, sweet Abigail. Photo by Left: Yossy Arefi / Right: Glen Allsop

Abigail wasn't the biggest fan of her little brother when we brought him home, but she's slowly starting to warm up to him now that he has chilled out a bit. I think in six months they'll be snuggling. Fingers crossed.

HA: What are you listening to right now?

YA: I love podcasts and listen to them more than music, unless I am writing. I alternate between super heavy political ones, and fun pop-culture shows. A new fave is Switched on Pop.

HA: What are the trusted kitchen utensils or gadgets you turn to again and again?

YA: A mandoline, kitchen scale, bench and bowl scrapers, simple maple rolling pin, my hand-me-down Dutch oven that gets almost daily use, cheap peeler, sharp knives, and my collection of pie plates.

Opportunities abound. Photo by Christine Han for Pantry Confidential
Left: Aromatics on hand. / Right: The trusty drawer. Photo by Christine Han for Pantry Confidential

HA: Go-to dinner party food?

YA: Roast chicken and lots of veggie sides.

HA: Favorite slow Sunday meal?

YA: Something that has to cook for a long time like Ghormeh Sabzi.

Left: Yossy's spice drawer! / Right: Dried Persian limes, a pantry staple. Photo by Christine Han for Pantry Confidential

HA: Ideal dinner party guests?

YA: Our families. We both live away from our parents and siblings and it would just be so nice to have them pop in for dinner every once and awhile.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

What would your ideal dinner party look like? Share your vision with us below!

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Hana is a food writer/editor based in New York.


Joe April 29, 2018
All I can say is "huh"?
Scott April 28, 2018
So I try to dial back the pepper, and there's a salt shaker on the table... :o)
Scott April 28, 2018
I'm definitely more sweet over salty.

Everyone I've ever cooked for says "too much pepper, not enough salt".