• About A Girl: Sara Elise

    A locally-minded and stripped-back approach to living, working, and cooking fuels the philosophy of young Brooklyn chef and entrepreneur Sara Elise, whose neighborhood-focused catering company Bed Stuy Kitchen is a lesson in creating with a purpose. We hung out with Sara in her NY stomping grounds to learn more about how she works, what inspires her, and why paring back actually creates the biggest results.
    Photos by Brian W. Ferry

    Above: Native Youth Slip Dress, Robyn Slide Sandal

    Born in Maryland, Sara grew up on the East Coast and has lived between NY and DC for the past 10 years. Her first foray into the working world led her in a very different direction than where she is now: financial services, which she left after four “dreadful” years to follow her passion of local food. Bed Stuy Kitchen is Sara’s personal chef and private event catering company, which focuses on using all natural ingredients that are mostly organic and ethically sourced from close by, drawing on the ingredients and flavors of the season and working with local farmers to get the best of what’s available. Currently, Sara’s spearheading a project to work with local schools to help develop farming, health, and wellness plans. 

    Have you always been interested in food and eating locally — how did you first get interested in food, how it relates to people, and your surroundings?
    Growing up, I was always passionate about food. My dad tried to expose us to different cultures and ways of eating that he learned about during his business traveling and took us to restaurants he found or read about. He definitely influenced my open mind, my desire to always try new things, and my interest in food as a connecting force between people.

    I first became interested in eating mindfully around 5 years ago when I was living in Manhattan, hating my fast-paced job, and discovering how different types of food affected the way that I felt while I was at work. Certain foods put me to sleep while certain other foods energized me and kept me in a positive mood. As I discovered my body's relationship with food and learned more about the way I processed food energies in relation to other energies around me, I began to search for food that was pure, all natural, raised without pesticides or antibiotics, and food that had transparent sourcing practices, recognizing that it was with this food that my body felt the best. Most foods that had these characteristics were sourced locally. We definitely incorporate these beliefs into our current business practices. 

    Above: Scratch Print Cropped Button Down, Relaxed Harem Pant, Kimi Lace-Up Sandals

    From start to finish, what is your ideal food day?
    My ideal food day definitely changes with the weather, the location I'm in, the season, and with my mood. But this summer in Brooklyn, some of my ideal food days have gone like this: wake up and have kale/almond/coconut milk/chia seed/fruit smoothie with my fiancé before heading to the gym. Come back and she makes us yerba mate and breakfast of poached eggs over kale, caramelized onion, garden herbs, and some fresh bread that we have in the house. Then I’ll drink tons of H2O and coconut water while we're biking around, running errands, and hanging with friends. 

    Next, a fresh lobster roll for lunch as we sit on the water in DUMBO or assorted mezze and fresh pita platter before spending time in Prospect Park. Finally, ceviche, sangria, and yuca for a late and light dinner. Also, feel free to insert pizza and/or ice cream at any time during the day…ideal food days in the summer definitely have some type of pizza involved and ice cream from SkyIce, my favorite small shop in Park Slope. There's a woman that makes her ice cream by hand in yummy flavors like white miso almond and black sesame seaweed.

    What’s a simple change someone can make to be a more conscious buyer or consumer of food?
    Buy more things grown from the ground and items made from hand or in packaging from factories. When you are buying things in packaging—read the labels! If there are things that you don't recognize, then don't eat it. Eat more vegetables and fruits and less animal protein. When you do eat animal protein, know where it comes from and the types of conditions that the animals lived in. 

    Above: Denim Shell TankRelaxed Harem Pant

    Can you share some of the challenges of running your own business?
    The largest challenge for me in running my own business has been adjusting to not receiving a consistent paycheck every two weeks. Every month I stress out thinking that I won't make any money and every month we end up being so busy and I find myself wondering why I ever stressed. I'm learning how to reframe my way of thinking and trusting that everything will all work out.

    What are the best parts about working for yourself? 
    Best part of working for myself is schedule flexibility. I'm never obligated to do anything that I don't want to do, I can work when I want, take breaks when I want, schedule travel for when I want. It’s truly a blessing. 

    Above: Striped Midi Skirt

    What’s your advice for someone looking to embark on his or her own projects and eager to start something but unsure where to begin?
    Become a "do-er." If you're interested in starting a project, then just start it. Start by finding models of projects that you respect (often by Googling them) and incorporating the best aspects into your project/business while eliminating the things that you think won't work. Trust your intuition, follow your creative vision, and do what feels right for you.

    Always believe that you will accomplish what you set out to do. Your belief in yourself creates a magnetic energy that ripples outward inviting others to support and believe in your vision and help further your progress.

    Don't do things half-heartedly. If you're unsure about your dedication to something, it shows. If you want to start a project, put 100% effort into it and do it with intention. If it doesn't work out, then oh well. It won't be because of anything that you could have controlled. Which means it wasn't supposed to happen anyway.

    What are some of your passions outside of food? 
    It's realllllly hard to list passions without including food. But aside from all of my main passions which involved preparing, eating, or learning about food, other passions include social justice and activism, building friendships, beach and sun, traveling and learning, reading, yoga. And food.

    Can you share a favorite summer recipe with us? 
    Here is a very easy recipe for one of my favorite summer desserts: Caramelized Peach and Fresh Ricotta Hand Pies.

    One batch of Thomas Keller’s Buttery Pastry Crust or your favorite pie dough

    1 Egg yolk + water: whisked together to make egg wash
    Raw sugar, for sprinkling
    2 white organic peaches, pitted and sliced in thin slices
    2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
    3/4 cup of handmade fresh ricotta (or purchase local ricotta from a market)
    1 teaspoon cinnamon
    1 teaspoon nutmeg
    1 teaspoon sea salt
    1/4 cup of honey (or sugar)

    Make the crust: Make the crust and flatten the dough into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled (at least 1 hour or overnight). Remove and dust the pastry on both sides with flour. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the pastry to a large round disc, about 3/16 inch thick. Using a circular cookie cutter or a knife, cut 4-5 inch wide circles out of the dough.  Set all of these circles on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and put in the freezer or refrigerator to chill until ready to be filled.

    Make the peaches: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Toss peaches in a mixing bowl with melted butter, honey, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sea salt.  Let the flavors meld at room temperature for 10 minutes. Arrange sliced peaches on a baking sheet and roast in the oven until bubbly and caramelized. Let cool completely.

    Make your pies: Keep oven heated at 425 degrees and take chilled small discs out of fridge. Spoon a 1-2 teaspoons of ricotta onto each disc and add some of the softened peach slices. Arrange so that there is an even amount of each mixture in the middle of the discs. Brush some of the egg wash around the edges of the disc and top with another disc, crimping down on the perimeter of the circle with a fork. Poke holes in the top disc to allow for ventilation and bake for 5 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and bake another 10-15 minutes, until the pies are golden. Let cool and enjoy. Take a picture of your creations and tag @BedStuyKitchen on Instagram!

    Above: Cropped Tank Top, Wide-Legged Pant, Slide Sandals

    Sara's essentials:
    What do you listen to while you work? My business partner is in charge of the music so we're usually jamming to something she's put on, which recently has been a mix of badass power women such as Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill, and Alice Smith. 

    What are your go-to neighborhood spots in Bed Stuy? Bed Vyne Wine and Brew, Casablanca, Doris, and Sisters for bars. SCRATCHbread, Brunswick, Marietta, and Saraghina Bakery for breakfast. Dough for the best donuts. Porto Viejo for mafongo. Jollof has incredible Senegalese food.  

    What three clothing pieces are in your constant rotation? Black cotton onesie/jumper that I found at a thrift store, white loose flowy button down that I layer over everything, black Vagabond slip-ins.

    Do you have a style “uniform” or do you mix it up? Typically I'm wearing all black or all white, and then the layers I'm wearing vary based on my mood and the weather. I'll throw some colors in there if it's summertime hot though, to celebrate the sun and all she gives us.

    What was the last great thing you read?
    I recently re-read Zami by Audre Lorde.  Life sustaining.
    Cooked by Michale Pollan.
    The First Bad Man by Miranda July.

    What was the last link you shared with a friend? The link for the Amy Winehouse documentary and also for the menu for Cosme in Manhattan, a restaurant we're thinking of going to this week.

    What could you care less about? Celebrity news and gossip. If I don't know you personally, then why would I be interested in who you’re dating, what you do on the weekend, etc.? I just don't really have time or the brain capacity to spend energy on something that isn't at all relevant.

    What’s on your summer to-do list? Spending as much time as possible laying in parks around Brooklyn, dancing outside to live music with friends, enjoying walks with my pups in beautiful weather, cooking for private chef gigs in Long Island, catering summer life celebrations, solidifying travel plans for the fall and winter, going to Afropunk and other outdoor concerts, and then heading back to Burning Man again. Spending as much time outside as possible.

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