Food The Tastemakers:

She is Quite the Jewel!

Diana Yen

I first met Diana Yen a little over a year ago at a dinner for Kinfolk Magazine hosted by West Elm Market here in Dumbo. Though we only briefly connected that night, I was immediately smitten and intrigued by her. I found myself Insta-crushing on her feed, learning more and more about her from the false sense of connection that Instagram can often create. I learned about her bunny, her love of cooking and the recent release of her—whoop whoop!—cookbook, A Simple Feast, which encompasses a year’s worth of stories and recipes to savor and share.

What swooned me most about Diana and her team, The Jewels of NY, was not simply their love of cooking and capturing it all though her gorgeous lens, but the idea of community behind it all: a group of women cooking and developing recipes together, styling it all beautifully and breaking bread over their shared love of good food. In their own words, their mission is “to uncover the hidden treasures New York has to offer and share them with others through seasonally based cooking.” Diana has a test kitchen in her Brooklyn studio where she develops recipes for Kinfolk, Epicurious, and Martha Stewart, among other lifestyle greats—I mean, what could be swoonier than that?!

So, when I hosted a dinner at my Dumbo home this past September, I invited Diana, excited to further develop a friendship, this time offline, and hopefully one day cook together.

That intention became a recent reality when the Jewels came over to my home to help create our ideal holiday breakfast: a baked caramel French toast with sautéed pears, straight from Diana’s book. Other than the finger lickin’ deliciousness of this recipe (yes, we devoured it for lunch right after snapping the pics), the best part of this recipe is that you can make it the night before, keep it refrigerated and simply pop it in the oven before serving the next day. It’s easy indulgence—the perfect Christmas morning delight that’s sure to wow your family!

Every opportunity and collaboration is a learning experience for me, and working with Diana was a big one. As I watched Diana roll up to the Eye-Swoon kitchen with a team in tow—recipe developers, an additional photographer, prop assistants—it inspired me to expand my own team, after all we can’t do everything alone if we want to evolve. So thank you Diana for that reminder, and swooners, I’m officially growing my team—so send along your resume if you’d like to play a part!

Photography by Diana Yen and Lina Kroencke. Styling assistant Devry Drosky.

Creme Brulee French Toast With Sauteed Pears

Diana Yen


1 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for greasing
1 loaf brioche bread or challah, cut into 1-inch thick slices
5 large organic eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
1 tablespoon Cointreau or other orange liqueur
confectioner’s sugar for dusting

3 tablespoons butter
3 medium pears – peeled, cored and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/3 cup apple cider
1/3 cup light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon


In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the brown sugar, corn syrup and butter until melted and smooth. Pour the mixture into a lightly greased 13 x 9 inch baking pan.

Cut the bread slices into triangles, then layer into prepared baking pan and set aside. In a mixing bowl, blend together the eggs, whole milk, heavy cream, vanilla extract, salt and orange liqueur. Pour mixture over bread in pan and wrap tightly with saran wrap. Let chill in fridge 8 hours or overnight. When ready to serve, let sit out at room temperature for half an hour before baking.

Preheat oven to 350° F.

Bake for 30-35 minutes until bread is golden and puffed. Dust with powdered sugar and serve with sautéed pears.


In a large skillet, melt butter over medium heat; add pears.

Cook, stirring constantly, until pears are almost tender, about 6 to 7 minutes.

Add apple cider to skillet. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve warm with french toast.

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