ON FINDING HER INNER CHEF: When I had my first job and was living in an apartment on my own, I loved having people over. You need to feed people when you’re entertaining, and that’s when I started to understand the magnetism of food—it creates camaraderie. It wasn’t about how great my food was, because it wasn’t spectacular. It’s that food is for gathering. You don’t even have to cook anything, necessarily. I’m about to host an ice-cream social, which is such an easy way for people to get together. Just come and have a bowl of ice cream!
When I was learning to cook, I made mistakes at every turn. I ruined things that many people ruin, like soufflés, and I ruined things that many people don’t ruin, like roast chicken. Some if it was technique and genuine error: you can’t put hot soup in a blender, because it explodes. But a lot of it was just not paying attention, like anything else. With cooking, you have to pay attention. Sound and smell are hugely useful, and the more time you spend around food, the more you realize that it talks to you. You have to listen.
ON CAREER SETBACKS—AND BREAKTHROUGHS: I worked at Vogue for the features editor for a total of four years. I loved that job, but I was a terrible line editor. I had a natural instinct for story, but I was way too timid to talk to the writers because I knew I wasn’t going to improve their copy. It’s terrible to feel like, “Oh my gosh, I really like this, but I can’t do it.” I did a bunch of interviewing but I didn’t have the right skill to make it to the next level. And I had to accept that. I remember calling my father in tears, saying, “Will you help me if I quit?” And he was not happy about it, because he thought I was just giving up. I spent a year trying my hand at writing fiction, but I would write and rewrite and rewrite, and the stories were stuck, like concrete. I didn’t have the fluidity that a lot of writers have. So then I got another job at Condé Nast that my former boss from Vogue gave to me.