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!
When I first met Kevin Masse, I knew immediately he was my type of people. Seatmates at a dinner, we chatted each other's ears off all evening. Our shared love of good home cooking, mid-century modern design, and sweet furry pups had us reach near-BFF status by meal's end. As the head of integrated marketing and brand partnerships for Bake From Scratch magazine, Kevin has an unsurprisingly appetizing Instagram feed, but I quickly discovered this marketer-by-day was chock-full of talents that extend beyond the kitchen.
Turns out this self-professed "serial home cook" is a downright modern-day Renaissance man. Sure, he can whip up beautiful, impressive (but always doable) meals, but he's also a veteran marathon runner (10! PLUS an "ultra marathon"—that's 37.2 miles, people), a classically trained pianist, a yoga teacher-in-training, and a budding philanthropist.
Most importantly, Kevin couldn't be a kinder, more down-to-earth person. Come join me in getting to know this devoted dog dad a little better...
HANA ASBRINK: Hi Kevin, please tell us about yourself.
KEVIN MASSE: I am, first and foremost, a marketer by profession. I spent more than 10 years working in brand strategy in New York City before going into the world of start-ups and working for a growing food media company, where I was in charge of community engagement. This year, however, I decided to leave my job behind and spend time exploring ways to bring purpose into my life. So far, it has been an incredible experience.
I started volunteering with an organization called Healing Meals Community Project, which delivers organic meals to families facing health crises. The meals are cooked by high school students during an after school program, with adult mentors in the kitchen. I have been mentoring these high schoolers for the past few months now, and I can honestly say, nothing has been more nourishing for my soul than being in the kitchen with these kids.
I have also spent much of the time this year in the kitchen, focusing on creating new recipes and learning more about bread baking. The next chapter that I am embarking on is yoga teacher training. This year, my husband and I committed to doing a 40-day yoga challenge through a local studio called The Yoga Shop. I have seen so much of my life transformed that I am now enrolled in a teacher training program that starts this month. What I love is that yoga and food are very intertwined. They both require practice, commitment, and time; and both nourish the soul and make you feel whole.
HA: How long have you lived in your current home? What do you like most about it?
KM: We bought our home almost three years ago. We wanted our dogs to have a backyard and we were ready for more space. We saw the house the day it went on the market and had an offer in just hours after. We love that it's just the right size for us (about 1,800 square feet), which is much bigger than any of our old New York City apartments. It also has an open floor plan, which is something that's harder to come by in older homes.
The entire house (kitchen included) was remodeled before we moved in, which was a huge plus because we loved the finishes they put in: white cabinets, quartz marble counters, marble backsplash. We also loved that the house is on one floor, which means we can look forward to growing older together here.
HA: Tell us more about your cutie pups. How did they come into your lives and how do they make themselves at home?
KM: Our dogs are our children. We got our first dog, Huxley, a Brussels Griffon, when we lived in Manhattan and he quickly stole our hearts. To say that he changed our lives is an understatement. He loved living in the big city and had so many friends at the Washington Square Dog Park. He was (and still is) a social butterfly.
When we moved to Connecticut, we got him a brother—a legitimate brother, actually. Orwell, our second Brussels Griffon, is Huxley's half-brother (they share the same father). They love each other so much. They have run of the entire house when we are home and have beds in pretty much every room. They love being right next to us when we are on the couch, but also just lounging on their own in different parts of the house. When I am working, 9 out of 10 times, they are in the living room or bedroom, either in their beds or hanging out in their crates.
HA: Describe your decorating style. What are you influenced by?
KM: We are very mid-century and minimalist in our style. Both my husband and I appreciate the clean lines and proportions of mid-century furniture, and we were fortunate enough to purchase an original dining set from my grandparents' neighbor right before we moved to Connecticut. What I love about the pieces is that they are not only beautiful to look at, but also really ingenious in their design functionality. Our table sits at 48-inches round, but expands to more than 10 feet, which means we can have great dinner parties without having to occupy a gigantic dining room.
I would say our home is influenced heavily by our personal tastes, rather than any one particular designer. I’ve really focused on trying to find pieces for our home that we will have forever, and not just pieces that will get thrown away with the changing tides of decorative taste. I love the history that comes with the furniture and pieces we have started to collect. Each one brings a different story, but collectively, they tell the story of who we are and our home that we are making together.
HA: Where do you like to shop for your home?
KM: Here are just a few of my favorites:
- Inspirational online sites: I love Horne, which is an online retailer that sells everything from furniture to lighting to kitchenware. It's great for inspiration. I could also spend hours on Etsy looking at different things, and often, can find amazing pieces for a fraction of the cost.
- Kitchenware: I truly love going to Food52's Shop as I think they've done a really fantastic job finding products that help real home cooks without relying on the fluff of gimmicky tools. I know that if Food52 sells the product, it has likely been well-used in their test kitchens.
- Lighting: Rejuvenation has incredible lighting and I love the mix of styles. They also have great sales so you can usually find what you are looking for at a pretty reasonable price.
- Furniture: I love Blu Dot and have a lot of the furniture in my office. The styles are exactly what we love and the quality is really great, which is important to us.
- Brick and mortar shops: Mud Australia is one of my favorite stores to visit. I have been collecting pieces over the years and love going into the shops any chance I can get. I love the aesthetic of the stores, and even purchased a Vitsoe Shelving System for my home, based on how much I loved them in the Mud Australia shops.
HA: Something you hate-to-love or love-to-hate about your home?
KM: Our house has popcorn ceilings and I really wanted to have them all removed before we moved in, but it never happened. I have grown to not notice them, but still really want to have it all removed and redone. It is a VERY expensive project and all of the rooms have them!
HA: Do you have a favorite corner or nook of your home?
KM: The one project we undertook a few months after moving in was the removal of a broom closet at the end of our kitchen. When we moved into the house, it came to my attention that our cabinets were mounted at 16 inches above the counter, rather than the standard 18 inches, which meant many of our countertop appliances, including our coffee maker, did not fit under the cabinets.
That became the impetus to take out the closet and in doing so, it turned out that the closet was exactly the width of a built-in wine refrigerator. We converted the closet to become our bar/coffee station, and it was one of the best things we’ve done. Now we have a place to pour our coffee in the morning and mix our cocktails in the evening, genuinely multipurpose.
I also really love our dining room. Of course, there is the furniture, which makes me happy every time I see it, but we recently hung wallpaper from Hygge and West and it has made all the difference in the world. The birds add just the right focal point to the heart of our home.
HA: If your walls could talk, what would they say?
KM: “Who’s Alexa and why are you always talking to her?”
HA: How often are you cooking? Is your husband Michael a cook?
KM: On most weeknights, you will find me in the kitchen. The kitchen is where I spend most of my time and I could not be happier about it. I do some form of cooking every day of the week; I cook dinner for us about six nights a week. We’ve been trying to limit our dining out in the new year and focus more on being home at night with the dogs. We’ve also been going through a really rigorous yoga program, which has really driven us to focus on being more thoughtful with our food choices. While Michael does not normally cook, he did make a really fantastic quiche back in January.
HA: Are you guys entertaining often?
KM: We entertain at least once a week. My favorite way to entertain is low fuss and low stress. I love inviting friends over last minute when I realize I have enough to feed more than the two of us at home. I like to cook for our guests just as I would for us on a typical weeknight. I think when the food is unfussy and honest, it creates the best experience for those you have over. I think if people want fancy or fussy, they'll just go out to a restaurant. I want people to feel like they are home when they are here.
HA: Do you have a signature drink or dinner party fare?
KM: I love roasting chickens for dinner parties, especially during the cold winter months. People are often intimidated by roasting whole chickens, but with just a little pre-planning and a good dry brine, you can create an incredible and easy dinner party that guests just go crazy for. I love spatchcocking the birds and two chickens will usually feed six people. Roast some vegetables to go with it and you’ll have a really happy crowd.
HA: What is your ultimate comfort food?
KM: Pizza is my ultimate comfort food and I love making it at home. I have really gotten into sourdough and have been making pizza with a sourdough crust. I bake it at 550°F on my baking steel and get restaurant-quality results with minimal effort. I also love that pizza is easy enough to make on a weeknight, and if I don’t have time to make the dough, I go with store-bought and let it rest before working with it; it works like a charm every time.
HA: What do you always keep in your fridge?
KM: Each week, I take out a few jars of homemade stock that I keep in the fridge. I use these during the week to add depth to recipes without having to take all day to cook something. Stock is so much easier than what most people think. I freeze all the ends of my vegetables when I am prepping (onions, carrots, celery, herbs) and also freeze chicken carcasses.
I also amp up my cooking with good condiments like harissa, tomato paste, and crushed Calabrian chili peppers. I also lean heavily on things like Greek yogurt, buttermilk, parsley, and cilantro. (Tip: I keep my cilantro and parsley, washed, in Ball jars in the fridge and they can keep for anywhere up to two weeks!) These key ingredients function as the backbone of my cooking.
HA: What are your top three kitchen tools?
KM: The ones I turn to again and again:
- Huge cutting board: I cannot stress enough how important it is to have a big, heavy, top-quality cutting board. It allows you to prep a lot of things at once and not have to work on a teeny tiny space. My cutting board weighs approximately 15 pounds and sits on my counter all the time.
- Chef's knife: My Miyabi chef's knife is a powerful and beautiful piece of equipment to work with and makes prep a breeze. I sharpen it myself with a wet stone and can work with it for hours without feeling fatigued.
- Enameled cast-iron Dutch oven: I have a small collection of Dutch ovens in various sizes and these get used almost daily in my kitchen. I cook on induction, which has been a game changer for me and I love that cast iron works on such a modern technology. The Dutch ovens are incredible because they heat really evenly, retain the heat very well, and can go from stovetop to oven to table all in one shot.
HA: What is your favorite way to unwind after a long week?
KM: Baking bread is my favorite way to relax after a long week. I love the methodical, slow nature of the process and knowing that with only a few ingredients, you can get something so incredible and rewarding. Not to mention, it makes the house smell really incredible while they're in the oven.
HA: What's on your playlist right now?
KM: “Hey Alexa, play Brahms on Spotify.” I love all different kinds of music, but 90 percent of the time I am listening to classical. I love the Romantic composers: Brahms, Chopin, Schumann, Liszt, etc. I love that each time I hear a classical piece, no matter how many times I've heard it before, I can pick out something new, like a new line or note that I did not notice before.
I was classically trained on the piano for nearly 20 years and I think this has had a big influence on my musical tastes. However, I do love all types of music and have a real soft spot for Neko Case, Lana Del Rey, Florence and the Machine, and Mumford & Sons—music that feels like music, if that makes sense.
HA: Do you have a favorite Food52 recipe?
KM: The Genius Nekisia Davis Olive Oil and Maple Granola Granola, hands down. I have made this recipe with some variations for years now and each and every time I make it, it comes out incredible. It hits on all the right notes for me: sweet (but not overly so), crunchy, and salty. I have to be careful not to eat too much of it!
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.