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So, maybe I’m a bit of an imposter, or maybe I’m just a believer in past lives…It’s pretty obvious my name is as Greek as they come, but I’m not Greek at all. My parents just liked the name Athena and were looking for a name beginning with the letter “A”. I love my name (even if I wanted to be a Jennifer as a kid) but even more than my name I love Greece, from the food, and the coastline to the way of life and personal memories I’ve made with my husband and son visiting the islands. And I even have a secret…Until my first trip to Mykonos 15 years ago I didn’t eat fish! I know, I know! A foodie who was scared by fishy-fish flavors. You know what changed my mind? The one and only way Greeks prepare whole fish – by slathering it with olive oil, lemon and fresh herbs. That trip to Greece gave me the confidence to explore, broaden my narrow ideas and finally begin to cook fish at home. Ever since then oregano, lemon and quality Greek olive oil became my Holy Grail of cooking.

I have finally found my doppelganger when it comes to a cooking style, but she’s the real deal. Actually of Greek heritage and a tried and true chef, who gets to create for artists – please meet the lovely Mina Stone. I discovered Mina after reading a story in New York Times T Magazine about the insane lunches she creates three times a week for legendary artist Urs Fisher at his studio in Red Hook. Then suddenly it seemed like Mina was colliding with my world in the best possible way. My friend Lucy Chadwick, who is the director at Gavin Brown Enterprise shared how Mina creates dinners for all of their gallery openings. And one day, while I was flipping through W Magazine during Art Basel Miami I came across a story about Mina’s anticipated cookbook with Urs titled Cooking For Artists. Needless to say, I knew I needed to cook with this woman who straddled the two worlds I love so endlessly – food and art.

Mina and I finally met when I stepped inside her Brooklyn kitchen to make a meal that is highlighted in her book and something she often makes for her artist lunches. We immediately got to chatting and chopping and before I knew it we were discussing our crazy love (and addiction) to olive oil, lemon, herbs and sea salt. We both couldn’t agree more that all you need are a few high quality ingredients to create super tasty food!

In between keeping busy in the kitchen and telling each other our life stories, I flipped through Mina’s cookbook and felt an overwhelming joy at the beauty of the images and the eloquent descriptions of her approach to food. Together we laughed about the risk of letting someone into your home to cook with you – you never really know what you are gonna get. It’s such a personal and intimate experience, there’s a real passion and honesty that is revealed as you cook. For me, it really feels like the purist way to get to know someone. And Mina and I did indeed get to know one another in the two short hours we spent cooking her classic carrot soup, punctuated with a lemony-parsley-pistachio pesto topped with (you guessed it) Greek olive oil. Mina and I will definitely be in the kitchen together again. We may even create a swoony feast together this summer, so stay swooned!

Mina will be hosting an all day cook-a-thon with recipes from her book at Gavin Brown’s Enterprise on May 16th from 2-8pm!

Mina Stone

Swoonisms

    • HOW WOULD YOU BRIEFLY DESCRIBE THE ETHOS OF YOUR COMPANY AND WHAT YOU DO?

      The ethos is simple food, with lots of olive oil, lemon juice and salt.

      CAN YOU SHARE THE GENESIS OF YOUR BRAND AND HOW YOU CAME TO BE A CHEF?

      I became a chef by accident. I was a fashion designer trying to support myself while doing my own line- cooking on the side anywhere I could. As time went by, the cooking kept going better and becoming more of a passion until I decided to completely immerse myself in cooking.

      CAN YOU SHARE HOW YOU ENTERED INTO THIS VERY NICHE MARKET, COOKING FOR ARTISTS?

      Again, by accident. But then again, as I look back and reflect, I think that maybe what started as an accident turned into a sort of symbiotic relationship. I grew and found my own voice cooking for creative people, and they were well fed and happy with what I was able to provide. I think we both work off of instinct and that is why it works well.

      YOU COOK LUNCH FOR URS FISHER, AT HIS STUDIO 3 DAYS A WEEK, DESCRIBE THE PROCESS AND EXPERIENCE OF CREATING AND SHARING THOSE MEALS?

      It is a very organic process, I would think much like cooking for your (very) large family. It’s also makes everyone really happy, and is a nice part of the everyday energy of the studio.

      ONE SWOONED OVER DISH THAT REPRESENTS YOUR FOOD FOR LUNCHES AT THE ART STUDIO?

      Greek Chickpeas with lemon, olive oil and rosemary

      HOW DID SPENDING TIME IN GREECE AS A CHILD INFLUENCE HOW YOU COOK?

      I was around fresh ingredients and freshly cooked food all the time. Greece to this day inspires me by their incredible farmer’s markets and how the food usually has about 4 ingredients in it but tastes amazing.

      FAVORITE CHILDHOOD FOOD?

      Fried eggs and french fries. A classic dinner for a Greek kid.

      WHAT IS YOUR FOOD PHILOSOPHY?

      Keep it simple and don’t stress.

      CAN YOU TELL ME ABOUT YOUR NEW COOKBOOK AND HOW IT CAME TO BE?

      About 4 years ago, Urs Fischer said: “We should do a cookbook.” I said “YES!” and there you have it. It is a genuine reflection of the time I have spent cooking personally, at the studio and at GBE.

      WE BOTH CLAIM OUR INTENSE LOVE OF LEMON & OLIVE OIL & HERBS ON EVERYTHING – THE HOLY TRINITY – CAN YOU SHARE A RECIPE USING THOSE INGREDIENTS THAT YOU MAKE OFTEN WITH YOUR EYES CLOSED.

      I take any kind of salad green and dress it with olive oil and lemon juice. Then I add any kind of herb… parsley, cilantro, mint or all three!

      BREAKFAST ROUTINE?

      Coffee, always. Sometimes bread and Greek honey. Sometimes an apple and almond butter.

      YOU BE LOST IN THE KITCHEN WITHOUT……

      Those handy handheld ceramic mandolines.

      FIVE INGREDIENTS YOU COULDN’T LIVE WITHOUT?

      Oysters, avocados, Greek honey, sesame seed bread rings in Greece,  nescafe frappe.

      ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANTS IN NYC

      Roman’s and Academy Diner.

      ANY HILARIOUS FOOD STORIES OR MISHAPS?

      None so far, thank God.

      HOW DOES COOKING MAKE YOU FEEL IS 3 WORDS?

      Peaceful and happy.

      GUILTY FOOD PLEASURE?

      Nutella.

      WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL MEAL? WITH WHOM?

      Spaghetti and Greek meat sauce with my mom.

Carrot Soup

Mina Stone

  • Ingredients

    • serves 6

      • 2 yellow onions, diced
      • 2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
      • 8-10 larger carrots, scrubbed and chopped into 2” rounds
      • 2 strips of orange rind
      • 2 sprigs of fresh thyme, chopped
      • 1 bay leaf
      • extra virgin olive oil
      • salt and freshly ground pepper
      • chopped pistachios for garnish
      • chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley for garnish
  • The Prep

      • Drizzle some olive oil in a pot and add the onions and garlic with a generous pinch of salt. Saute over medium heat until the onion mixture softens.
      • Add the carrots, orange rind, thyme and bay leaf. Then, add enough water to just barely cover the carrots. Simmer the soup over medium-low until the carrots are very tender, about 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaf.
      • Using an immersion blender, blend the soup with about 1/4 cup olive oil until it is velvety and smooth. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper as necessary.
      • To serve: spoon the soup into a bowl and top with a spoonful of the pistachio pesto. Sprinkle with chopped pistachios and parsley and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Pistachio Parsley Pesto

Mina Stone

  • Ingredients

      • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
      • 1/3 cup raw pistachios, shelled
      • zest of 1 lemon
      • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
      • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
      • salt and freshly ground pepper

       

  • The Prep

      • In a food processor, pulse the parsley, pistachios, lemon zest and lemon juice until just smooth.
      • Pulse again, drizzling olive oil through the feed tube until the pesto is very smooth and bright green.

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