My temperament upon entering Peter Som’s classic, swoon-worthy West Village apartment was drastically different from when I exited.
Cooking is my safe, happy place, and cooking with other food-loving freaks is partly why I created Eye-Swoon. But I was nervous to cook with Peter Som — an über-talented fashion designer twice nominated for the CFDA Award for Emerging Talent — whom I had never met before.
First, I was walking into a celebrated womenswear designer’s private residence (What the f**k am I going to wear?!). Second, I had been told Peter is a chef. A major, proper chef — which somehow made me feel less capable.
But my nerves evaporated the second I stepped into Peter’s home, where he greeted me with warmth and familiarity. And once we stepped into the kitchen, I understood that Peter was in his element — and so was I. Playful and not at all self-serious, Peter set the tone for one of my most fantastic cooking experiences, and Eye-Swoon stories, to date. We had the best time. We shared our love of food, and an insane perfectionism for, well, everything really, but especially in creating meals for friends and family.
His kitchen was styled with the most beautiful spring flowers and a cutting station for two — a twin set of wooden boards, each adorned with a set of global knives (one of our shared obsessions, along with cast iron pans and how to clean them appropriately). We geeked out, foodie-style. The laughter, the setting, the meal, the company… it was all heaven.
Peter and I set out to create his crispy salmon with citrus bagna cauda sauce. I eagerly took on the role of his sous chef, and was on my best behavior as he called out a task for me to complete. As we made our way through his genius recipe, we learned that we favor the same style of cooking, with clean, bright Mediterranean flavors: herby and lemony with depth of flavor and crisp veggies. This made sense, seeing that Peter hails from the San Francisco Bay area, with architect parents who possessed a love both of French food and healthy eating.
As for the final meal? I’ve officially become a salmon lover. (I didn’t dare tell Peter, but I don’t usually eat salmon—until now). This dish played on all my loves. It has the richness of the herby, buttery anchovy sauce, balanced by the fresh, crisp radish & herb salad. It was a beautiful plate of food: vibrant, structured, bold, refined—not unlike a Peter Som collection.
Photography by Winnie Au