Sep 19, 2017
Five Years of #hknyweddings: Howie + Hakeem

Howie and Hakeem are one of those romantic stories of a serendipitous meetings. Their romance was forged from random circumstance (or fate) of sitting next to each other in a crowded bar on a Friday night. Five years later, Hakeem surprised Howie on their "meetiversary" with an engagement ring tucked inside a picnic basket. (She always wanted to have a picnic date.) They wanted an intimate wedding of close friends and family, and found the second floor of Haven's Kitchen the best and only setting for the occasion.




How did Hakeem propose to you (assuming he was the one that proposed)? 

Since we'd been together, I would always mention how much I wanted a picnic date and he'd always say, "Okay babe," but our picnic date never happened. Every year, we celebrate the day we met and have coined that day as our ",eetiversary." On our fifth "meetiversary," Hakeem totally forgot about this significant date. Or, that is what genuinely thought. During conversations throughout the day, he was so nonchalant and never acknowledged the date. Of course, I'm annoyed, until, he surprised me with sushi from my favorite restaurant. After dinner, he presented me with a beautiful picnic basket set and tucked inside this beautiful picnic basket: an engagement ring! One of the best nights of my life.


What was the most important part of the wedding planning process for you?

When we began the wedding planning process, the most important thing was making sure we found the perfect venue that would be able to accommodate our small number of guests and provide on-site catering. It was also important for us to choose a venue that required little decoration. Because Haven’s Kitchen has so much character with a vintage feel, we didn’t have to worry about decorating the ceremony or reception space.

We wanted to make sure that everything from the music, food, décor and all around vibe, mirrored our personalities both as individuals and as a couple. We wanted everything to look effortless and Haven’s Kitchen did an amazing job of capturing that.

Finding out that Haven’s Kitchen was also a cooking school was the icing on the cake.


howie_hakeem-bar-700Hakeem loves bourbon, especially Woodford, so the Old Fashioned was an important cocktail on their menu.

How did you plan the menu?

Menu planning was one of our favorite things throughout the whole planning process. Because one of us is the clear foodie and one of us is a bit more sensible when it comes to food choices, we wanted to make sure that our menu reflected that as well.

We decided to honeymoon in Italy so naturally we wanted our guests to experience cuisine from that region, but also able to create a menu option for our guests that had dietary restrictions. During the menu planning process, David (Haven's Kitchen Culinary Director) was genuinely interested in hearing our suggestions and thoughts on the menu and we really felt included during the process.

We wanted our family and close friends to feel like they were attending an amazing intimate and romantic dinner party and Haven’s Kitchen put a menu together that reflected who we are as a couple.


What were some of the details you were excited to see come to life as part of your wedding?

While we couldn’t wait to see everything pulled together, I was mostly excited to see the space and breathtaking flower arrangements that were personally created by the owner, Alison Cayne. The ambiance was one of romance and enchantment. It really was everything that we wanted and could not imagine at the same time. It was such a special night for us.   


howie_hakeem-mantle 960Haven's Kitchen owner Alison Cayne did the florals for the wedding including this opulent garland above the marble mantle. 


What have you learned about yourselves and each other in the last year as you’ve put together your wedding?

I think we’ve both learned to trust each other’s instincts more. There were times when we were indecisive about aspects during the planning process; but in the end we relied on one another to make the tough decisions.   




Venue / Food / Event Management: Haven's Kitchen 

Photographer: A Guy + A Girl Photography          

Her Dress: Christina Rossi    

Her Shoes: Badgley Mischka

His Tux/Suit: Hugo Boss       

His Shoes: Johnston Murphy

Flowers: Haven's Kitchen  

Her Hair: Shaniqua Jenkins

Her Make-Up: Janice Lindo

Cake: Empire Cake   

For more photos from Howie and Hakeem's wedding visit our new Instagram @weddingsathavenskitchen.



Sep 06, 2017
Five Years of #hknyweddings: Amy + Ted

Amy and Ted loved the idea of a winter wedding. They liked the feeling and aesthetic of its cool starkness in contrast with the desire to feel warmth and fire. The challenge was how to use the idea of winter without conjuring Christmas. With the help of the Haven's Kitchen events team and the artistic direction of Patrick Clayton, they relied on the minimalist loft-like third floor space to evoke the vast whiteness of winter with a fireside intimacy. 


What was the most important part of the wedding planning process for you?

Amy: Haven's Kitchen was actually the only place we looked at. A lot of the "big" decisions and moments in our relationship have come naturally to us like settling on Haven's Kitchen as our venue. They believed as we did in "forming communities through the pleasure of cooking and eating." With our wedding, we would be forming a new community. We're not really "wedding" people so it was vital that our venue give us a feel of comfort and home.

There are a lot of competing forces out there when it comes to getting married and having a wedding. Our plans for what we wanted for our wedding day has shifted a couple of times over the two years we were planning, but, at every point, Halle [Haven's Kitchen Events Director] was there to give guidance and help us keep the day entirely ours.



Amy's bouquet was done by event designer Patrick Clayton.


What were some of the details you were excited to see come to life as part of your wedding?

Amy: You know, every bit of it was exciting to see come to life. We loved working with Patrick (Clayton) on the decor for the third floor. Prior to guests arriving we took a quick look to see what he had created and we were blown away by how beautiful his work was. Minimal yet elegant. Exactly what we wanted.

There was a point during the evening when I was standing near the bar and I looked out into the room and was filled with a sense of peace and contentment. Everything we had worked for and wanted was right there in front of us. 



It's winter, not Christmas! Clayton used candles and winter greens to spruce up the third floor loft space to create a contrast of winter minimal and fireside cozy.


What have you learned about yourselves and each other in the last year as you’ve put together your wedding?

Ted: I came to realize Amy's capacity for compromise. Having a wedding was something that I was invested in and Amy is more the elopement kind. Through this experience I came to see how much we give and care for one another. We find our own happiness in the happiness of the other. We managed to find ways to make the wedding important for both of us and be honest to who we were as individuals and a couple.


Amy: I always knew that Ted was supportive and that he really considers my thoughts and feelings, but through planning the wedding I felt all of that more deeply. As he noted, I'm not really a wedding girl and could have done without it. But through his patience and working together while planning, I realized that I did want it. He opened my eyes in a way I wasn't expecting. As long as we were true to ourselves, it would indeed be a celebration of our love and commitment to each other and nothing else.


2016-12-Amy-Ted-FoodInstead of a traditional seated meal, Amy and Ted opted to do a cocktail-style reception. Amy's friend, Rachel Conemeyer did the desserts including these coffee pate choux. 


Anything you would change about your experience?

Amy: It was perfect. Truly perfect. At any point where we needed help, Halle was there. If it wasn't for her we wouldn't have found our photographer or event designer. And the two of them fit us and our dreams seamlessly. The ease at which we fell into our relationships with them and HK is something we'll never forget. Obviously not every part of wedding planning is peachy, but without a doubt we wouldn't change any bit of how it went for us. In fact, we'd do it again every weekend if we could.


Venue / Food / Event Management: Haven's Kitchen

Photographer: Sarah Bode-Clark Photography

Décor / Flowers: Patrick J. Clayton Productions     

Dress: Sarah Seven    

Her Shoes: Sam Edelman     

Hair & Make-Up: Glam Squad

Groom: The Black Tux

His Shoes: Hugo Boss                   

Wedding Cake: Cakes & Confections by Rachel Cronemeyer Flatley       

For more photos from Amy and Ted's wedding visit our new Instagram @weddingsathavenskitchen.

Aug 31, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Dessert

Like all good meals, for our final lesson in #havenskitchencookbook Summer School, we end with dessert. Our Culinary Manager and in-house chocolatier, Zoe Maya Jones breaks down the method behind Ali's favorite chocolate cake.


Our recipe for this week is a true test of your summer school skills: a Chocolate Cake to Commit to Memory. If you can master this, you can truly have your cake and eat it too. With ingredients you probably have in the pantry (or can find at any corner store) you can bake a decadent cake. Bonus: it’s gluten free!



Not many foods make me happier than chocolate cake. It’s there for me when I need a hug, when I am celebrating a special event, when I’m craving something rich and sweet, when I’m heartsick, when I’m stressed, when I’m home alone and watching a full season of the Great British Bake Off… chocolate cake is always there.


An important phase in taking my and chocolate cake’s relationship to the next level was memorizing this recipe. While the cake is perfect on its own, it’s easy to jazz up with fun garnishes or flavors that pair with your dinner party menu. Once you have the base recipe down, find ways to play with it and add your own personality to the recipe.




If you’re having a Mexican-themed supper, whisk in a teaspoon of vanilla extract, cinnamon, and cayenne into the batter, throw a dollop of whipped cream on top at the end — et voila! — you have a Mexican hot chocolate spiced cake to match the occasion. If you’re looking for something more decadent, a topping of caramel (I like the whiskey sauce from the Gjelina cookbook) and walnuts reminds me of sticky toffee pudding. I recently had a few berries leftover from our CSA last week that weren’t looking quite up to snuff, but cooked down with a few teaspoons of sugar they turned into a tart, richly hued sauce that balanced well with the dark chocolate.


Important Tips
We find this recipe illustrates the idea of balancing structure and playfulness. There is some technique to the recipe: Since there’s no added leavening agent in the cake (such as baking powder), you must whip the eggs until they are very fluffy and aerated. The whipped eggs make the cake rise. Avoid stirring the chocolate too much after you add it to the melted butter. Stirring will cool the mixture too quickly and the butterfat will separate from the chocolate, making it look broken and messy. Let the chocolate melt in the warm butter and then whisk it together to combine. Keeping the fats emulsified will guarantee an even mixture when you fold the chocolate into the eggs.


Once you have this recipe memorized, you’ll be the favorite houseguest to any host. People might even start inviting you along on their long weekends away just to make it.


Chocolate Cake to Commit to Memory
Whiskey Sauce 



Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, InstagramFacebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.

Aug 24, 2017
Haven's Kitchen Summer School: Sauces

This week at #havenskitchencookbook Summer School is all about sauces. Our Culinary Manager Zoe Maya Jones preaches about how sauce can be one of the most important weapons you can have in your cooking arsenal. 


If you could only learn one lesson from our cookbook Alison would argue it’s sauces. She preaches that sauces elevate and enrich even the simplest dishes. Sauces teach us about balance, and are an accessible way to enhance your culinary prowess as a whole. 


In this week’s lesson, we cover a wide range of cuisines, flavor profiles, and textures by exploring three sauces. We have a bold nuoc cham (in The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School we have a version called Fish Sauce Vinaigrette), a creamy crunchy pesto, and a full-bodied, versatile curry. All of this week’s recipes are made with a mortar and pestle, the world’s original food processor. (Evidence suggests it has been used for cooking since 1500BC.)


nuoc-cham_mise_700Our mise en place for a nuoc cham, also called a fish sauce vinaigrette in our cookbook.


Nuoc cham, a traditional Vietnamese dipping sauce consisting of lime juice, fish sauce, bird’s eye chilies, and sugar, is more versatile than one might assume. In our classes, we teach students to use it as a marinade for pork or chicken skewers, a dressing for a noodle salad or cabbage slaw, and a dipping sauce for summer rolls. The play of salty funk from the fish sauce, acidic lime, spicy chilies and sugar is a great way to practice the art of balancing bold flavors. We add lemongrass and garlic for an extra punch of aromatics.


nuoc-cham_mortar_700Using a mortar and pestle to make a sauce helps marry the aromatics and spices to create a fragrant and punchier sauce.


Pounding the ingredients in the mortar and pestle enhances the flavors of the chilies, garlic, and lemongrass by releasing the aromatic oils and integrating it into a unified paste, and infuses the fish sauce and lime juice. Some prefer the sauce to be sweet, others might love it with more fish sauce, or an extra chili for a seriously spicy version, so taste it and find the balance that’s right for your palate.


A good way to get your frustration out and make something worthwhile at the same time.

Pesto, whose name originates from the word “pestle,” is a go-to sauce for many home cooks, and can be made with a myriad of ingredients. Our version in this lesson relies on the classic version: basil, pine nuts, garlic, olive oil, and Parmesan. Our grid below shows alternatives for herbs, nuts or seeds, and some added ingredients that spruce up the original. While some might think pesto is a pasta sauce, its uses are diverse: consider it as a spread for a caprese sandwich, a garnish for roasted salmon, or when diluted with lemon juice and olive oil it can be used as vinaigrette. 


Pesto Grid
This is a general guideline for pesto. Use about 2 cups of the base with 1/4 cup of the nuts or seeds, and you can use from a 1/4 cup of olive oil and use more depending on how loose you want the recipe. For the counterpoints, you want at least a 1/4 cup of Parmesan or nutritional yeast, add more if you need after you taste. For lemon zest or chili flakes, start with one teaspoon, and add more if you desire. You probably will want to add a good pinch of salt for balance.






Pine Nuts 




Lemon Zest


Sunflower Seeds

Chili Flakes



Nutritional Yeast

Curry is more often considered a powder or paste. However, I've included it here since at it serves as the base for many sauces. A homemade curry powder is more fragrant than any pre-made mix, and is an important lesson in creating balance through spices and aromatics. Curry, a Tamil word meaning sauce, can describe an array of mixtures depending on which part of the world you find yourself in. Our version uses whole spices which, when toasted and ground by hand, fill your kitchen with a delightfully potent aroma. I use this powder as a base for soups, a seasoning mix for popcorn, and blended with some peanut butter and coconut milk for a flavorful dipping sauce.


Did you know curries are a blend of spices, and each one tells us a history about travel, trade, and the economy?


As you become more familiar with the sauces and flavor combinations that please your palate, we believe you’ll find more confidence in the kitchen and, as Alison so aptly states, discover the “culinary wizard inside of you.”


Madras Curry Powder
makes 1 cup

2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds

1 tablespoon whole cumin seeds

1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds

10 to 15 whole green cardamom pods

1 teaspoon whole black pepper

5 to 6 long, mild Kashmiri chilies, dried

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

2 tablespoons ground turmeric

Toast the first 6 spices, one at a time, in a medium hot, heavy pan until fragrant. This can take anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute per spice. (they should become fragrant, but not smoky). Place each in the same bowl and let them cool completely. Place the toasted spices, and ground cinnamon and turmeric in a the bowl of a mortar and pestle, and pound it into a powder. If you don't have a mortar, use a spice grinder or powerful blender to grind it. To store, place it in an airtight tin in a cool, dark place. It should keep for at least 6 months, though the fresher the better.



Follow along as we cook our way this summer through our cookbook, The Haven's Kitchen Cooking School. Find our stories on our blog, Instagram, Facebook or through our hashtags: #havenskitchencookbook, #hknycookbook and #cookwithconfidence.