Q+A WITH FOUNDER, KAT ODELL
Kat is currently working on her second cookbook, which is primarily focused on making vibrant foods with all natural ingredients, which you’ll get a good taste of with The Tutti Frutti! This new market special is so pretty in pink and available at our by CHLOE. locations, in New York + LA, for brunch plus breakfast exclusively at by CHLOE. Flatiron.
To give you some more insight into Kat’s world and mindset on everything food, we sat down with her to find out more about her passion for eating, wellness + traveling. Check it out!
by CHLOE.: Introduce yourself.
Kat Odell: Hi, I’m Kat! I’m a longtime food, beverage, and restaurant editor for Eater, and now a plethora of other publications like Vogue, New York Times’ T mag, Condé Nast Traveler, Food & Wine, and more! My first book dedicated to low-alcohol tipples, Day Drinking, comes out May 16, and I am now working on my second, Unicorn Food, vibrantly-hued gluten and refined sugar-free plant-based recipes. Track my recipe development at @unicornfoods and @kat_odell.
bC: What was the inspiration behind Unicorn Foods?
KO: I lived in LA for nearly a decade, and quickly got hooked on the ubiquitous clean eats that the city offers. When I moved back home to New York three years ago, I couldn’t find many of the wellness-angled foods and drinks easily accessible in LA, so I decided to create my own, adding my own twist. I was an art history major in college (as were both my parents) and am very inspired by color, shapes, and patterns, and so that comes out in my food. Per my job, which involves copious travel and restaurant dining, when I am home in NY, I am a super clean eater. For me, it’s a balance. I’ll sometimes travel for up to 3 weeks – consistently dining out – so when I get back home I need a detox, of sorts. I am big on Ayurveda—food is medicine. It is – I believe. So, I started off making pastel-hued nut and seed milks a few years ago, and that morphed into foods that follow the same ethos – entirely natural (I live half a block from the Union Square farmers market so I always source as much as I can from there), no refined sugar (I use honey, maple syrup, yacon, pure monk fruit – not the stuff from Whole Foods – dates.. and others), no gluten, lots of raw desserts… algae, adaptogens… basically my kitchen has turned into a mess of an apothecary!
bC: Did you always have a passion for food?
KO: Yes! I started cooking with I was about 4 years old with my grandmother, who is from the Czech Republic. My family in general has always been food-included. My mother had (and still has) a garden, so during the summer fruits and veg came from there. I never had soda or anything artificial as a kid because my parents didn’t believe in that kind of food… my dad is an amazing cook and so I grew up eating lots of ethnic foods… especially Asian. Everything from Cantonese to Turkish to Malaysian…
bC: What are some of the challenges that come with creating your own recipes/cookbook?
KO: Well, I don’t really feel like the kind of cookbook that I am writing exists, which is both exciting and daunting. Sure there are tons of healthy eats books, or raw cook books, but none that really embrace ingredients like pearl, he shou wu, and rhodiola – just some of the esoteric ingredients I use at home. Color is really important to me not only for aesthetic value, but foods with color are actually better for you … higher in antioxidants in addition to other nutritional compounds. My friends have become my taste testers – I’ve been testing out these recipes for a few years now so much of the book is already completed in terms of recipes…just need to write out exact portions and all of that.
bC: When it comes to drinks, what’s your favorite cocktail and what makes a great cocktail…great?
KO: I love a good Spritz, like the version on offer at Wildair in LES. Anything involving sake or mezcal, I am always game for that. I do love a low-sugar mezcal margarita. Oh, and the one drink I make at home… fresh passionfruit caipirinhas! In general I prefer savory cocktails over sweet… I find that far too many cocktails are overly sugared at bars. The best cocktails have balance – sweetness to acid.
bC: What’s your favorite dish at by CHLOE.?
KO: I’ve always been a fan of the Matcha Kelp Noodles, I am a big fan of kelp noodles in general. I am also super psyched to be collaborating with by CHLOE. on The Tutti Frutti Beet Pancakes, which are topped with Pink Coconut Whip Cream and a tropical Tutti Frutti Dust. You get a nutrition boost from the beets, and there’s also flax and apple sauce in there for extra omegas (plus fiber and other nutrients) and moisture.
bC: What does “Eat well. Eat with purpose” mean to you?
KO: Back to Ayurveda for a second – the idea that food is medicine. I do believe that many illnesses people suffer later in life are diet-related… and therefore preventable. Eating well and with purpose means to think about your own health and wellness and choosing a diet that benefits you – we’re all different. BUT at the end of the day, my advice is to mostly eat green things – veggies, fruits, moderate whole grains (heirloom if possible), avoid sugar as much as you can (this is tough, I know!), and consume lean proteins. Also, mix it up. Vary your diet. Don’t eat the same thing every day.
1. Nickname? Kitty.
2. Go-to snack? Dried persimmons.
3. Name one food you can’t live without? Sushi.
4. Personal mantra? In life, sugar will get your further than salt.
5. Weird personal fact? I don’t really eat candy except… I love Haribo Gummy Bears.
6. Favorite season? Summer.
7. Favorite seasonal ingredient? Passionfruit? That’s seasonal somewhere, right? If not, Hamptons strawberries in June.
8. Top 5 songs on your newest playlist? I love love loooove music. I’m always listening to Spotify while cooking. If I didn’t work in food, I might work in music. Right now I’m digging…
Betty Who, Aquilo- Human Touch
Alina Baraz, Khalid- Electric
Flausen, Ben Cocks- Fly Away For a Summer
Tez Cadey- Seve
Jan Blomqvist- Big Jet Plane (original mix)
9. Hosting a dinner with 4 people (dead or alive), who would you invite? My grandmother, my dad, Julia Child + Craig Claiborne.
10. Top 3 Instagram accounts you follow? (excluding your own/your company’s)? @pana_chocolate, @atelierseptember + @mikebagale.
11. Under water or outer space? Outer space!
12. Juice or smoothie? Smoothie.
13. Night in or night out? Out.
14. Dream getaway? India! But really I want to travel all over the world and over everywhereeeeeeeee. That’s the plan!