Like many weddings at Haven's Kitchen, William and Ellen's wedding was unconventional. But even more so, since guests were expecting to arrive to an engagement party rather than a wedding reception.
What was the most important part of the wedding planning process for you?
It was pretty important that we got married in New York because this was the place where we met and fell in love. We wanted a space that was unconventional but not too trendy, simple but not DIY.
Haven’s Kitchen is cozy and personable and just like being at home, but much more tastefully decorated. Going into wedding planning, we knew we wanted to celebrate with our family and with our friends but neither of us are good being center of attention. We decided to get married in an intimate ceremony and then surprise our guests with our wedding celebration, disguised as our engagement party. It felt so unconventional and so right from the moment we settled on that decision.That's really when the wheels came off the bus.
How did you plan the menu?
In another homage to New York, we wanted good local food that would be memorable and would serve as a second layer of surprise to our surprise wedding. We have pretty broad tastes when it comes to food and Chef David was wonderful about taking the reins and giving our favorite foods an elegant twist. We’ve had countless guests compliment us on how delicious the food was.
What were some of the details you were excited to see come to life as part of your wedding?
It was so, so wonderful to involve all the important people in our lives in our ceremony. My best friend registered as a Universal Life Minister so that she could marry us. William’s brother stood up with us to translate the ceremony for our parents. William’s sister, a professional pianist, recorded the processional music. And Ellen’s brother facilitated the ring warming ceremony in which 15 of our ceremony guests blessed our rings and our marriage. To have everyone play a part in the act of marrying us was so meaningful.
What have you learned about yourselves and each other in the last year as you’ve put together your wedding?
We make a really good team. It really is the stuff of dreams. William is decisive when I am not and vice versa. We were so in sync with our wedding vision and it made the planning process so smooth. In the first half of the planning process, I handled a lot of the correspondence and coordination but as I was reaching the finish line of my MBA, William really stepped in to make sure we were in tip-top shape with the wedding.
Event Management and Menu: Haven's Kitchen
Her Dress: Theia
Her Shoes: Manolo Blahnik
His Tux: Lord's Tailor
His Shoes: Salvatore Ferragamo
Décor and Flowers: Designs by Ahn and Patrick J Clayton Productions
Photographer: Cynthia Chung
Ceremony Music: Joyce Chan (Sister of the Groom)
DJ: James Arnold (74 Events)
Hair and Makeup: Sachiko Yanase
Wedding Cake: M&W Bakery
Videography: Shutter and Sound
To see more pictures from William and Ellen's wedding, check out their wedding at Style Me Pretty.
To celebrate five years of Haven's Kitchen, we're taking a look back at one of our favorite types of gatherings that happen in our little carriage house: weddings.
Our first one celebrated the nuptials of Michael and Theresa, and the entire staff was involved in some way. Ali (our owner) did the floral arrangements including the bouquet, Lela (the former events manager) did the playlist, and Julia (our opening chef) wrote and cooked an elegant and casual menu to honor the bride and groom. Guests sipped on a cocktail called "The Couple" and slurped oysters from a deluxe raw bar.
Five years later, Ali wrote to Michael and Theresa to hear their side of the story. They dispatched their answers from upstate New York, where Michael owns the rustic and modern wine shop, Kingston Wine Co., and Theresa works as an artist and at a local non-profit.
Michael and Theresa in Haven's Kitchen Living Room.
How did you hear about Haven's Kitchen?
We lived in the neighborhood and I stumbled across it one afternoon, just after we were engaged. When I walked in, I immediately asked if they hosted events.
When did you know you would have your wedding here?
That afternoon! Neither Michael nor I wanted a long engagement. We were actually considering a city hall wedding, but the Haven's Kitchen townhouse seemed intimate and fresh.
What was the best part of the planning?
The simplicity of it. We are very low-key and were immediately drawn to the entire HK aesthetic, so we completely trusted the team to do their thing.
What was the best part of the actual wedding?
Feeling like we were in our own home. It was a warm September evening, so we opened the windows during the ceremony. Guests mingled upstairs and downstairs, and the flow of the party was truly organic.
Calligraphy for invitations by Nicholas Misani. Vintage stamps from Champion Stamp.
Do you have any advice for couples planning their wedding?
Make wedding choices based on your own style.
I met Ali in the flower district the morning of the wedding and we picked out the freshest flowers for that evening. This is something I would do if I was having friends over to my apartment.
And trust others!
We did not intend on any dancing, yet somehow around 11:00PM, everyone started dancing. I caught Lela's eye and she went right with it and said, "I'm off the playlist!"
When you think of Haven’s Kitchen, you think…
one of the best nights of our lives!
Event Management and Food: Haven’s Kitchen
Dress: Lanvin, bought at Barneys on a lunch break
Her Shoes: Prada
Floral Crown: Bride's creation
His Suit: Michael Andrews
Decor and Flowers: Haven's Kitchen
Photographer: James Nord
Ceremony Music: Ukulele player Josh Cho
Reception Music: iPod playlist created by Haven's Kitchen
Wedding Invitations: Bride's design, hand-stamped
Calligraphy: Nick Misani
After celebrating five years of #hknyweddings, we decided that there's so much more we wanted to share about our love for weddings. Follow our new Instagram account @weddingsathavenskitchen.
Libby Winters's passion for wine and spirits makes her an alluring instructor. She not only knows how to charm your pants off (from years of experience in bartending), but has an encyclopedic knowledge of the cultural history of cocktails that seamlessly drops from her mouth as she shakes and stirs.
This is why you should take her Tiki drinks class. Tiki drinks have a terrible reputation, but, when made properly, are sophisticated and refreshing. They're related to sours and sippers, which you've probably had before (think daiquiri or a Collins fizz). We asked Libby to demystify our assumptions of tiny umbrellas and ceramic heads and skewered pineapples.
Can you give a brief history of tiki?
Tiki bars and tiki drinks rose in popularity in the 40s and 50s, especially in post WWII America when their escapist ambience offered people a break from the stresses of their daily lives. As Tiki culture grew in popularity and spread across the country, recipes were eventually dumbed down, sugary mixes were employed in the place of fresh juices, and the drinks became syrupy colorful concoctions that bore little resemblance to their sophisticated precursor -- all in the name of mass production and efficiency. However, with the recent explosion of craft cocktail bars, tiki drinks are popping up on cocktail menus in their original, more nuanced and complex form.
Tiki drinks have a bad rap, what gives?
A proper tiki drink is a cocktail with layered flavors composed of a spirit, fruit (often citrus), spices and some kind of flavored simple syrup or sweetener. But the rules are pretty fast and loose. "Tiki" culture was invented in America by Don the Beachcomber in the 1930s when he mixed ingredients and flavors inspired by his travels in the Caribbean and South Pacific, and served them in a bar decorated accordingly. Tiki culture is Polynesian-themed drinks and food viewed through an American lens. But it's not specifically Polynesian or Caribbean, and doesn't even really require rum. Basically, if you have a cocktail that calls to mind the feeling of being on a beach with palm trees swaying in the breeze ... you've made yourself a tiki drink. There are purists who will argue that to be called a "tiki drink," the cocktail must have been invented in a tiki bar, designed to create a tropical atmosphere. We won't worry about that in our class and will focus on making complex, layered cocktails.
What are five tiki essentials for your home bar?
1. Rum! This is the backbone of any at-home tiki bar. It's a good idea to have a solid white rum and a darker rum on hand for adding depth to your cocktails. We can go over particular brands that you might like and can find easily in NYC.
2. A citrus squeezer. Because you're going to have to make fresh lime juice. Part of the reason tiki drinks get a bad rap in the first place is that people are too lazy to use fresh fruit juices. Fresh citrus will take your cocktails to the next level. You turn your nose down at sour mix from here on out.
3. Demerrara sugar. This will be used to make a brown simple syrup which has more texture and depth of flavor than regular simple syrup.
4. Fresh fruit. Don't know what cocktail you should make? Take a look in your fruit bowl and start there. Add some booze, a squeeze of lime, a splash of simple syrup, ice and shake. Boom. You just invented a tiki cocktail.
5. Angostura bitters. It's true that with all that fruit and sugar, tiki cocktails risk skewing sweet. An easy fix to add complexity, herbaciousness and texture is a few dashes of Angostura bitters.
6. I know you asked for five, but if you want to get fancy and really add some flair to your cocktails and punches, get a Microplane to add fresh ground nutmeg or lemon zest as garnish to your drinks. It's super easy and goes a long way in taking your drinks to the next level.
Why Take a Cocktail Class?
Have you ever ordered your favorite cocktail at a new bar and had it taste not quite right? Or wanted a cocktail that tasted spicy or herbal or super dry or floral but been too shy to describe what you want to the bartender? Most drinkers know what they like, but aren't always able to articulate what they want, or don't feel comfortable engaging in a dialogue with whoever is making their drinks. Cocktail classes are a great way to get to know the ingredients and techniques that best suit your personal taste so that you can feel confident ordering at a bar or making your own drinks at home. Drinking, much like eating, is one of life's pleasures, so don't skip right to getting drunk -- learn to savor end enjoy the history and complexity of whatever it is you choose to imbibe.
What's your favorite story about a cocktail?
Whenever people tell me they don't like tiki drinks because they're too sweet, I like to make them a Hemingway Daiquiri and tell the story about how Ernest Hemingway drank these because he was diabetic and needed something not too sweet. He was also known to drink six of these in each sitting which I don't recommend.
If Libby could only drink one cocktail for the rest of her life, it would be a daiquiri. She writes about wine and cocktails for the blog Sipsters and currently bartends at Anfora and dell'anima, where she has several cocktails on both menus.
You can take her Sours and Sippers (aka Tiki Drinks) cocktail class on Friday, April 28.
Maria Zizka came to us on a short list of recommended recipe testers from our editor, Judy Pray. For the Haven's Kitchen Cooking School Cookbook, we were looking for someone who was meticulous and smart; that wouldn't be deterred by our meddlesome methods of working; and who we could prod into giving us brutal feedback about our recipes. And, we were intrigued that she had worked on one of our favorite cookbooks: Suzanne Goin's The A.O.C. Cookbook. We never got our brutal feedback, but we did find ourselves delighting in her detailed notes about each recipe she tested.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what you do?
I am a cookbook writer, and I live and work in Brooklyn, New York. I studied biology at the University of California, Berkeley, where I spent a great deal of time in the botanical garden, learning how plants grow and memorizing their medicinal uses. I also earned a master’s degree in food culture and communications from L’Università degli Studi di Scienze Gastronomiche in northern Italy. My thesis focused on American cookbooks and the introduction of e-books. Before I finished graduate school, I jumped right in and started working with Suzanne Goin on The A.O.C. Cookbook.
Maria with Jessica Koslow of Sqirl (left) and Chad Robertson of Tartine and Tartine Manufactory.
How did you decide to work in food as an occupation?
For as long as I can remember, I have loved cookbooks. My parents tell me that when I was a little girl, they would come pick me up from friends' houses and find me sprawled out on the kitchen floor reading stacks of cookbooks. At first, the idea that working on cookbooks could be my job seemed too good to be true. But once I learned that it was possible, I pursued the career wholeheartedly. I studied Italian for a year before applying to graduate school in Italy. The craziest part to me is that from the first book I've worked on, to now, my love of cookbooks has only grown.
What do you find the most interesting part of your job?
Lately, I’ve been interested in bridging the gap between restaurant cuisine and home cooking. Although they’re quite different, they mutually influence one another, and I’m curious about that intersection.
What’s your morning routine?
I sleep a lot, and I wake up with breakfast on my mind! Wednesdays are the best day of the week because my fiancé, Graham, comes home from the gym with apple cider donuts he buys from our neighborhood’s farmers market. We always get four donuts: two sugared for me, one sugared and one plain for him. I make each of us a macchiato, and then we dip the donuts in the coffee. On other days of the week, I might have a croissant for breakfast, maybe with some jam, or I might make oatmeal, or a fried egg and buttered toast. I shower, get dressed, and then sit down at my desk and hop to it!
Where magic happens: Maria's writing desk.
Where do you find serenity and inspiration when you're in a rut?
I take a long walk. It miraculously gets me out of a funk every single time. I am lucky to live near Prospect Park, so most days—even if I’m not in a funk—I’ll go for a walk. This sounds nerdy, but I always bring a little notebook in my pocket because my best ideas come to me on those walks. I love seeing how the park changes from day to day, season to season.
What was the last book you read?
I’m the kind of person that likes to read a few books at the same time. Currently, I’m reading a book on the history of Ireland (because we’re getting ready to travel there for our honeymoon), as well as a compilation of selected essays by Betty Fussell titled, Eat, Live, Love, Die. I just finished Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and In Other Words by Jhumpa Lahiri. And I’ve been reading and cooking from Cal Peternell’s A Recipe For Cooking.
Recipe testing and editing — ensuring consistency through persistence.
What was the last recipe you cooked?
I’m writing a cookbook of my own and I’ve been testing recipes for it. The last one I worked on was whole-wheat crêpes, which I like to fill with jam, then fold like handkerchiefs and dust generously with powdered sugar.
Can you tell us more about your cookbook?
By coincidence, my book will also be published by Artisan and, you'll never believe this, Judy Pray is the editor! I've admired Judy and her work for years, so it is such an honor to have the chance to work with her. I am writing the book now, and it will be published in 2019.