Friday, December 4, 2015

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW with Noreen Wasti

After a Baklava tart recipe caught my eyes, for all the right reasons, I started a complete search of the chef behind the delight. Her name is Noreen Wasti and she's fabulous! Her blog is whimsical and shabby chic with a dash of both love and authenticity. If you're a domestic goddess wannabe or just love peeping through inspirational pictures and videos of fabulously styled food, make Noni's Place your destination. For now,  make yourself a cup of tea and read on...



F:I've recently discovered your website... I can safely say, I am now obsessed with everything Nonie! Were you always interested in cooking, or was it an infatuation that sneaked its way into your life? 
N:That's so sweet. I was always interested in cooking  and I think that stemmed from an interest in eating! Even as a child we were forced to try all exotic foods that I don't think any other kids our age were eating. I also used to watch cooking shows with my sister and we would try to recreate the dishes in our kitchen. When I got older as a teenager I cooked a lot and helped my mother out with her dinner parties, I used to go out into the garden and pick flowers and make a centerpiece for the table. I always loved entertaining and once I had my own place, planning dinner parties has been my favorite part. 



F:From Fashion to Food, there's certainly an art and a lot of taste to everything you touch, how did you get the courage to alter your life from working in a fashion PR company to cooking and writing for a living?
N:Fashion PR was such a fun and an amazing experience. I got to work first hand with some amazing brands such as Christian Louboutin and Tom Ford. I worked really hard, but throughout that process I felt like I lost a little of "me." I've always been creative and enjoyed the visual merchandising and event set-up part of the job more than the public relations. Fashion is a fast industry and you need to have thick skin. I initially started the blog as an escape from all that as a place where I could express my creative side and my love for food. Slowly it grew into a full-time thing and at first I didn't know how I could translate it into a career. I started writing for a few magazines for free to build up some experience. I did my master's degree in communications from Northwestern University, so writing always came naturally. From there I just worked on my entertaining skills, food styling and photography, and once that improved I started getting calls for projects and collaborations. It's been a really rewarding to see the growth over time.






F:What ingredients do you see as 'the essentials'? 
N: extra virgin olive oil: spend a little more and pick up one that is really good quality.
 a coarse sea salt: it just manages to bring a little bit more texture and depth than your average table salt.
 fresh herbs: Too often I see new cooks who don't know what to do with fresh herbs but they really make all the difference in your food. A bit of chopped parsley is great for finishing while richer herbs such as thyme & rosemary are perfect for meats and roasting vegetables.
 creme fraiche: I love using creme fraiche in sauces, dips and dressings. It adds a bit of rich creaminess without being too heavy.
 yemeni honey: obsessed with this stuff ever since I discovered it at global village. I put a drizzle on basically everything from my breakfast porridge to my salads.


F:I'm a health freak and I love to eat super foods, such as quinoa, berries, kale... Do you give your body a break, a juicing day or eating healthy once a week or even a month? And how do you balance eating as a luxury and maintaining an ideal weight?
N:It's a struggle because I truly love to eat! I cook a lot of my meals at home so that helps in balancing my weight, because I know exactly what I am putting into it and can control the amount of fat. I try and keep the eating out for the weekends when I know I truly deserve it. I love exercising so I think it all balances in the end. I try not to be extreme with fad diets or trends, instead I like to eat wholesome foods with good ingredients. I very much advocate indulging once in a while, life is too short and there is too much good food in this world. Fried chicken sandwiches are my ultimate weakness, but I will only have one after I know I've been good all week and usually will follow it up with a green juice the next morning.





F:What are your favorite cities? (list your favorite restaurants and shopping spots in each city)
N:New York City - New York is my absolute favorite city in the world. I grew up on the East Coast so NYC holds a very special place in my heart. The city is so vibrant with so many little enclaves, you can just get lost. I love that the city is a little harsh, because it keeps your head on straight and there really is nowhere else like it. I love exploring all the little boutiques in West Village & Soho, from homeware to accessories you can literally find anything. Lower East Side is where you can find me searching for restaurants. If I'm in the mood for comfort I get the brisket pho at An Choi, if I am in the mood for something healthy I go to The Butcher's Daughter & for something a little fancier then book a table at Per Se. Also a latte at El Rey Coffee Bar & Luncheonette is the perfect way to spend a morning.

Hong Kong - Hong Kong is the perfect juxtaposition of old meets new. You can literally be walking on a brand new walkway one minute and then on a steep broken road the next. I fell in love with the hustle and bustle, endless shopping and fabulous food scene of the city. For shopping all the little boutiques around Star Street are fabulous, there's a Le Labo (one of my favorite fragrance brands) and a Monocle shop there. I also love to explore Shanghai Street in Kowloon for homewares and kitchen pieces, you can find anything and everything there. Sheung Wan is my favorite area to eat, there are so many cozy little coffee shops including Elephant Grounds which does the most amazing vanilla bean latte. After that head to Little Bao for their fried chicken bao and truffle fries, it's indulgent but you won't regret it.

Copenhagen - I absolutely fell in love with this little city. It's quaint, full of green spaces and wonderful food. I love the biking culture and we biked around the whole city. The people were warm and friendly while the food scene is just so fresh as most of the restaurants only use local ingredients. We had a wonderful meal at the acclaimed Noma, while the stand out breakfast was at Atelier September. There was also this unbelievable almond croissant at a little cafe called Democratic Coffee. I loved shopping at Torvehallerne which is the farmers market and full of food stalls. For shopping I went to the home department at Illum which is the department store of Copenhagen, I found the most beautiful ceramics there. Royal Copenhagen is also a classic and timeless tableware brand. I also went to the showroom of Cecilie Copenhagen, I love the keffiyeh print inspired dresses.
F:Do you see yourself as the next hot chef, having your own TV show or a YouTube channel, a book as well?
N:I do secretly practice for my own cooking show when I am alone in the kitchen. I would love to write a food & lifestyle book covering my favorite recipes and entertaining tips. A girl can dream right?

 


F:Who cooks in your home, you or your husband?
N:Me, me, and me! If I'm lucky he makes me avocado toast and a boiled egg in the morning. I wish he cooked more but he doesn't have the time, I'm also a control freak in the kitchen so I am sure I would be shouting orders even if he tried!



F:What morning routines are religious for you?
N:I make homemade almond milk every week and use that in a morning smoothie. I usually have strawberries, banana, kale, almond butter, chia seeds, flax seeds, and a bit of raw cacao. Sipping my smoothie while catching up on work emails and my instagram feed is a typical morning for me.

F:
What do you collect and why?
N:I'm a kitchenware hoarder. My cabinets are stuffed with endless plates, teacups, silverware, platters galore. I honestly can't get enough. Whenever I travel I love going to antique shops and picking up little pieces here and there to add to my collection. Plus I do use most of the pieces for my blog posts, so it's a little bit of work & play.

F:

What’s your detox and retox?
N:I try hard not to be extreme with anything so it doesn't get to the point where I need to detox/retox. I'm not perfect, and I have my bad weeks too. The best way for me to detox is by kicking it hard in the gym. I am obsessed with both boxing and Physique 57, just sweating it out feels so good.

F:

What's the best advice you've received that has kept you going and growing?
N:Self doubt is a very dangerous thing. I've always had a tendency to second guess myself and I saw that blocking my creative process. It's really easy to keep comparing yourself to others but it doesn't get you anywhere. I think it's important to just believe in your talents and stay humble across the way. I truly believe that above everything just be a nice person, that's how I would want to be remembered.

For delicious recipes visit: www.nonisplace.com 

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