I had the privilege to spend a day with baker and entrepreneur, Steph Chen, in Santa Monica. And actually, I'm lucky enough to be her neighbor! I could climb a fence and into her garden like we were 12, but I haven't tried yet. We spent the morning chatting over coffee and homemade pies and pavlovas, then headed to our local farmer's market for some sunshine and fresh ingredients for her upcoming pop up event, Pies and Pavs, at Cafe Demitasse.
Steph navigates through the Santa Monica Farmer's Market like a pro. She knows where to buy eggs that glow bright yellow like marigold and pork sausage that will "change your life." I actually had forgotten cash, and she sent me home with a bundle of foodie goodies that quite honestly did change my life!
I was so impressed by her expertise and inspired by her style, that I just had to know what her daily menu of books, ideas, foods, and inspiration looks like. Here's her top five things at the moment:
What's On the Menu with Steph Chen
1. Tartine & Momofuku Milk books: These are the OG books I got many years ago that has influenced and inspired my baking the most. I love the classic and rustic recipes from Chad/Liz and super clear instruction for any novice baker. But I also love to be challenged and innovative with flavors and technique like Christina Tosi. To me they couldn’t be more opposite and I like to play in-between the two.
2. Pilates Platinum! I’ve been obsessed with my mega reformer pilates studio in Santa Monica. It’s definitely my workout mode of choice and have found some amazing instructors who know exactly how to motivate and make working out fun!
3. Black Sesame: This is one of my most favorite ingredients and soo versatile! I love using it in sweet and savory bakes. I grew up eating black sesame desserts because it’s very popular in Chinese cooking. To me this tastes like home so it always comes back whenever I’m writing new recipes. I would write an entire book on ways to use black sesame if I could. :)
4. Hiking through nature: I love taking hikes whenever I travel somewhere beautiful. From Patagonia, Big Sur, Costa Rica and even the Santa Monica Mountains, I love getting my soul filled up in nature away from cell reception and screens.
5. My Hubby Kelvin: Last but not least, Kelvin is my favorite person on this planet. He always knows exactly how to make me laugh and I’m most happy when I’m with him doing nothing.