Sep 14, 2016
Wedding Wednesday: Kelly + Evan

For Kelly and Evan, it was important to find a venue that would capture who they are as a couple. Hailing from Minnesota and New Hampshire, they wanted a space that would showcase their experience in the city thus far, and still have a genuine “New York” feel to it. Throughout the planning process – from choosing the cake, to the cocktails – Kelly and Evan learned to trust each other's instincts. But what was ultimately the most rewarding for the couple was being surrounded by family and friends who traveled from all over the world to celebrate their special day. 




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

I think the most central component we focused on was the selection of the venue. We wanted to find a space that felt authentically New York, and one that was in line with our unique New York experience. We wanted an intimate wedding, so we focused our search on venues that would feel warm and welcoming for our group of friends and family. The space had to feel approachable and genuine, yet still elegant and elevated. Kelly and I both grew up outside the city – Minnesota and New Hampshire – and wanted to incorporate some of the rustic elements from our childhood into the mix. We loved the largely blank space on Haven's Kitchen's third floor, and we were excited to build from that canvas. 




How did you plan the menu?

The food component was a close second priority in our planning. We have been to lovely weddings where the meals served barely register, let alone make a lasting impact. We were excited by the Haven's Kitchen team’s passion and genuine interest in helping us craft a menu that was both unique and inviting. We wanted a seasonally focused menu that would be appealing to our guests, yet would offer a bit of surprise. Kelly and I have somewhat separate yet overlapping tastes, and we found a lot of joy in this part of the planning.





What are some of the highlights of your wedding planning process?

The tastings were really fantastic, from choosing the cake to creating our cocktails, and everything in between. It was a balance between a sort of whimsical exploration that we were able to indulge in, and the reality of having to focus on the end result.


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

It was really fantastic to see all of the different design and planning elements come together. While we were excited about each component individually, there is always some uncertainty in one's mind before the actual event, so we were thrilled beyond belief with how everything turned out and came together. Ultimately, the evening culminated in a truly breathtaking and magical event.




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

I think we learned to trust each other's instincts when it comes to planning and that our personal aesthetics are more aligned than we thought.

At the end of the day, we were thrilled with how everything turned out. But seeing how much fun our guests had was ultimately the most rewarding. Our friends and family traveled from all over the world to share that moment with us, and it was phenomenal to be able to host an event where everyone felt connected and part of the party.


The Details

Event Management and Menu: Haven's Kitchen

Dress: Sachin & Babi

Shoes: Alexandre Birman

His Tux: J. Crew

His Shoes: J. Crew

Decor/Flowers: Emily Thompson Flowers

Photographer: Samm Blake

Ceremony Music: Alexandra Moiseeva

DJ: David Traver with White Label DJs

Hair and Makeup: MG Hair and Makeup

Wedding Cake: Billy's Bakery

Aug 24, 2016
Q + A with Klancy Miller

Cookbook author, pastry chef, and writer Klancy Miller has taken anything but a linear path to where she is today. After doing international development research in French Polynesia, and then apprenticing at a small restaurant in Philadelphia, Klancy moved on to experience what some might only dream about – living and working in Paris to study pastry at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu and interning at the Michelin-starred Taillevant. This past spring, she published her first cookbook: Cooking Solo: The Fun of Cooking for Yourself. Her food is equally reflective of her travels and personality, with recipes including Parisian Mini Chestnut Cakes, and Beef Tacos (Inspired by Aziz Ansari). 


Klancy will be teaching Lessons on Cooking Solo here at Haven’s Kitchen on Thursday, September 8 at 7pm.




What were the various career paths you took before deciding to go to Paris to study pastry at Le Cordon Bleu? What prompted that decision?

I had, and continue to have, a lot of interests after college. I studied history, French, Arabic and film (and more) at Columbia University. I wanted to figure out how to apply some of what I learned and thought international development could be a good area. After graduating, I worked at American Friends Service Committee and worked on a research project focused on Palestinian refugees. At the same time, I took film editing, acting, dance and cooking classes on the weekend or after work. My goal was to follow all of my interests and figure out what most excited me so that I could pursue that area. I eventually ended up working with a program at AFSC that sent me to Tahiti to do research on the socio-economic effects of nuclear testing in French Polynesia.


Meanwhile, cooking had become really interesting to me. When I came back from Tahiti, I applied for a job at Fork restaurant in Philadelphia. The chef said I didn't have enough experience, but could apprentice and do prep work on the weekend. I absolutely loved apprenticing at Fork. It was fully engaging on every level and made me start to think seriously about going to cooking school. The chef said that I didn’t need to go to cooking school to become a chef, but she did recommend it for pastry. I had studied in France and wanted to figure out how to fit France into my life, so going to Le Cordon Bleu to study French pastry arts seemed like a good idea.


How was your experience living and working in Paris?

I absolutely loved living in Paris and my first year there was a dream come true. I felt truly empowered because I had worked a couple of jobs and saved money to get there. I loved going to Le Cordon Bleu and being surrounded by amazing food. I had a cute, tiny studio in the 13th arrondisement that was near the supermarket Tang Frères, not far from the beautiful market on rue Mouffetard, and the awesome neighborhood outdoor market near Place d’Italie.




Things changed a bit when I started working. After I earned my Diplôme de Patisserie I began a ‘stage,’ or internship, at a salon de thé (tea salon) in the posh neighborhood of the 16th arrondisement. The place where I worked was great on the outside — if you were there for tea and cakes — but the kitchen was kind of bleak and morale was low. Then a friend invited me to ‘stage’ for a day at Taillevent — at the time a Michelin three-star restaurant — and the pastry chef said I could come back and do a stage there for an extended period. Taillevent was amazing and made me feel really excited in terms of the beauty and taste of the desserts and standards of excellence. I learned a huge amount about working in a three star restaurant, making pastry at the highest level. I also learned how hard kitchen life can be on they body, and I started to think about other ways to explore the world of food outside of the kitchen. I was offered a job at Le Cordon Bleu on their recipe development team and started writing about food. One of things I learned — and continue to learn — is that there are so many different things to do, professionally, in the food world.


What was that “aha” moment when you realized that solo cooking was under-represented and this was a gap you wanted to fill?

There was an article in the New York Times about sociologist Eric Klinenberg’s book, Going Solo: The Extraordinary Rise and Surprising Appeal of Living Alone. The stats about single people were astonishing. There are over 100 million single adults (aged 18 and older) in the U.S. While I was writing my cookbook, I learned that single people now outnumber married people in this country. I began cooking for myself while living in Paris, and continued to when I moved back to New York. I figured there must be a lot of people like me who could use a cookbook for one.


What’s the stigma attached to cooking for yourself — and being alone in general?

I think generally people associate being in a relationship with happiness. Maybe there’s some half-baked logic that leads people to think that if you’re single you must be unhappy. I think we’re trained — through pop culture, etc. — to think we should always be surrounded by people and that’s better than being alone or enjoying occasional moments of solitude. I do think there’s a stigma attached to cooking for yourself, but it has more to do with people thinking, “Why bother if it’s just me?” I think of solo cooking as an opportunity to indulge yourself without the pressure of pleasing someone else. You can cook and mess up and no one has to know. You can practice recipes on yourself so that when you make them for other people, you already know what you’re doing. Or, you can just enjoy your own company and the process of cooking every now and then.




You wrote an article for The Lonely Hour about an experience cooking alone while listening to Prince’s album. What role does music play in your cooking?

Music plays a big role in my cooking. Listening to music makes cooking that much more relaxing and enjoyable. I’m also a writer, so I spend a big part of each day in front of the computer, and I can’t listen to music and write at the same time. Going into the kitchen to prepare a meal is a break for me and music helps me unwind. Depending on who I’m listening to, music makes dinner prep feel more like playtime.


What advice would you give to someone who wants to write a cookbook or pursue cooking, but doesn’t know where to start?

Read the acknowledgment section of your favorite cookbooks and note who the agents are. You need a good literary agent to sell your proposed cookbook to a publisher. The first step though is to have a clear idea, write a book proposal, and include sample recipes. Find an agent and, with their help, refine your proposal, and your agent will pursue a publishing deal. Your work is to make the recipes great and write compelling stories or head notes. Mostly, you need to be really committed to your idea because it will take a lot of time, patience, imagination and stamina to complete your project, and that’s only the first part.


Once the book is published, you have to become really great at marketing and promotion, event planning and general publicity for your book. Your publisher will be extraordinarily helpful, but you have to learn that skill set — so start early! I would highly suggest reaching out to cookbook authors you admire and asking about their experiences and for advice. I also recommend just starting the cookbook proposal writing process to test how clear and excited you are about your idea, and then take it from there.


Any new projects on the horizon?

I’m thinking about what cookbook I’d like to write next, which will probably be something focused solely on desserts. I’m also in talks with a friend to do a series of dinners with a theme of community building and social justice in the face of a summer of sobering news. I used to have a supper club with a friend, and we had dinners throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn. I miss that and am hoping this new dinner series will have a similar vibe.




What was the first cookbook you ever owned?

The first cookbook I remember really enjoying as a kid was The Silver Palate Cookbook. My mom made a lot of delicious things from that cookbook in the 80s or 90s, and I remember baking a pie from that book and feeling accomplished. The first cookbook that I recall owning was a Caribbean cookbook that I really liked for the corn pone recipe and ginger beer recipe. I was really into Jamaican food and wanted to learn more.


What’s the one thing in your kitchen you can’t live without?

I like good knives. A good knife is the quintessential tool for food prep — not sure what I’d do without one.


What are your top three favorite places to visit when you’re in Paris?

Each time I go to Paris, I add new places to my list of favorites and find that I have a different mood or theme for each visit. My most recent trip this summer was all about catching up with friends over great meals, relaxing by myself in a park or café, and seeing the amazing Seydou Keita exhibit at le Grand Palais.


Here are three places I recently enjoyed:


Caffe dei Cioppi

7, rue Dahomey 75011 Paris.

It’s an amazing Italian restaurant/café in a cool area. Everything is delicious.


Institut Suedois

11, rue Payenne 75003

It’s great little gallery with a cute café and lovely garden, and entry is free.



10, rue Saint-Florentin 75001

Chic Japanese tea salon in the 1st arrondisement right around the corner from Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries Garden.


Where do you want to travel next?

I love to travel and have a long list of places I’d like to visit or re-visit. My short list of next trips includes: Sicily, Hungary, Tokyo, Ethiopia, Big Sur.


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Photos Courtesy of Davis Thompson-Moss, Tara Donne, and Klancy Miller

Aug 17, 2016
Wedding Wednesday: Caroline + Esther

Caroline and Esther knew from the beginning they wanted a quintessential “New York” wedding. But there was just one challenge: they lived in Australia. Planning a wedding can be stressful enough, but what if you’re trying to have a wedding at a venue you’ve never seen in person? Every detail for an intimate gathering of the couple’s closest friends and family was coordinated through phone calls and emails. The first time Caroline and Esther stepped foot inside Haven’s Kitchen was the day of their actual wedding.




Why did you decide to have your wedding in New York?
Same-sex couples can't get married in Australia! But really, we love New York. We've spent a lot of time there and wanted to share it with our friends and family. It was a good way to ensure a small wedding since only your closest family and friends will come. 


What were some of the key factors you considered while looking for a venue? Why did you ultimately choose Haven’s Kitchen?
We came across Haven’s Kitchen on website where it was listed as one of the best "alternative" wedding venues in New York. We couldn't see it in person, so that was tricky. We chose it because [Haven’s Kitchen Events Director] Halle really talked us through the space. The photos, floor plans and menus really showed us what Haven's Kitchen looked like, which fit our vision – small, intimate, funky, classy. [The third floor] had that classic, sun-lit New York loft space with big windows.


You planned your wedding from thousands of miles away in Australia. How was that experience collaborating with the Haven’s Kitchen team remotely?
It was so easy to plan our wedding. Halle answered all of our questions and really put us at ease. It was very easy to chat to with her on the phone — we probably talked to her five or six times in six months, and emailed back and forth quite a lot. She explained things clearly and was very flexible. We liked that could tailor the packages to meet our needs.

Halle, [Haven’s Kitchen Service Director] Bryn and the team on the day of our wedding were so on top of everything. This allowed us to focus on having a good time. Haven's Kitchen also recommended some great vendors like  Patrick of Patrick J Clayton Productions and Tory Williams Photography. Both were lovely, easy to communicate with, and did an outstanding job. Patrick really captured our vision — the venue looked truly amazing.




In what ways was your wedding representative of your lifestyle?
We love cocktails and the cocktails were just so good. We're pretty easy going and love having a good time, so it was very important that we had a relaxed wedding where people could eat good food, drink good booze, and dance. We didn't want too many formalities, and Haven's Kitchen allowed us to have a wedding where these things happened.


What are some lessons you learned through the wedding planning process?
The planning process reinforced that Esther was a good big picture person. She really chose the venue and had a clearer vision of what she wanted it to look like, and Caroline was a good details person. Really, what stands out is the fact that we didn't have to do that much! It was so easy and we completely trusted that the team at Haven’s Kitchen, Patrick, and Tory, to meet our vision. We found that with the exception of the menu, we didn't need to make many decisions. Instead, we said what we liked and were happy to be guided by all the experts.




Tell us about the big day.
Unfortunately, it went way too quickly. It was great to see everyone dancing and having fun. Everyone told us how much they loved the wedding, how good the food and drinks were, and we really agree. The doughnuts at the end were a big hit, and were only organized a few days before. We loved the small touches that Patrick organized like the seating plan on the chalk board and the guest names on lemon leaves.

Esther spilled a cocktail on her shirt right before the ceremony and the team miraculously got the stain out within five minutes. Out came the Tide pen and the steamer and the stain was gone. We still laugh about it.


The Details
Menu and Event Management: Haven's Kitchen
Decor: Patrick J Clayton Productions
Photography: Tory Williams

Jul 28, 2016
Q + A with Sarah Bode Clark

Sarah Bode Clark is best known at Haven's Kitchen for three things: her pizza and tapas classes (she revamped how we teach pizza here), her photography skills, and her Kansas roots. Her love for cooking started when she was young, spending time in the kitchen with her mother. Despite graduating college with a degree in theatre, she found herself being swept away by New York’s food culture and all of the adventures that come with it. Sarah encourages those who are new to the kitchen to dive into the experience and know that it will become easier each time.




Tell us about how you got started cooking.
I remember spending a lot of time as a kid in the kitchen with my mom as she cooked dinner. Her love for cooking was inherited from my grandmother. Growing up, my mom always got excited whenever she'd come across an "exotic" new item at our small-town Kansas grocery store and would try to figure out how to use it at home. By helping her prepare our meals I was never afraid of the kitchen or of trying out new things.


When did you realize that working with food and being in the kitchen needed to be part of your daily life?
I graduated college with a degree in theatre and moved to New York with my husband. I was armed and ready with headshots and an actor's resume. I started waiting tables at a Sicilian restaurant downtown while I considered auditioning (I even went to a few). Yet not very long into my new life here, I realized I was spending far more time reading food blogs, exploring the city's restaurants and markets, and creating elaborate dinners with all of the new ingredients I had access to than I was on my acting career. I figured it was time to turn my focus to the thing that I was spending all of my time and energy on. I haven't looked back and have no regrets.


What do you enjoy most about cooking?
Cooking feels like therapy for me. I get into a zone in my kitchen and feel more at home there than anywhere else. Plus, I get so much pleasure in preparing a meal for the people I love. I enjoy teaching other people in the kitchen because I love giving them the tools to feed themselves. There are so many folks who are intimidated and claim to never cook for themselves, and I really want to help them understand that it isn't as scary or as hard as they think.


What kitchen appliance can you not live without? Pantry staple?
I can't imagine having a kitchen without my Dutch oven. I use it for soups and stews a lot, but I also braise meat, make beans, fry, bake, and sauté in there. My go-to pantry staple is butter. There's usually at least a bit of it in most meals I cook. And even if you are too tired to cook anything else, what's better than a slice of toast and butter?


What's the best lesson about cooking that you can share with beginner cooks?
Just get into the kitchen and practice. Ask questions and don't be afraid of not knowing something. Cooking is a learned skill and you can only get better by doing it and getting guidance from those around you. Think of something simple that you love, find a recipe for it, and give it a go. Give yourself more time than you think you may need to make it. Taste as you work. And when you sit down to eat the meal you have prepared, savor it. Take a bit of time to consider what you liked and didn't like about this version. Is there a way to make it better? If you aren't sure, then next time try a different recipe for the same dish. You'll slowly start to find your way and it will get easier with each go.


In a few words, how would you describe your food?
Simple, straight-forward, from the hip and heart.


What's your guilty pleasure food?
So many, but if I had to choose I'd say soup-can casseroles. You can take the girl out of Kansas....

Sarah will be teaching Simple, Seasonal Suppers: New England Clam Boil on Thursday, August 4 at 6:30pm.