• Camilla Marcus' Pantry •
Camilla Marcus is the founder of west~bourne, the latest addition to NYC’s all-day cafe repertoire. Inspired by the mindfulness and creativity of the West Coast, she’s the brain behind nourishing, inventive dishes that just so happen to be vegetarian. She's also a seasoned investor who is committed to investing in other women-owned businesses, like some of our faves: RAMONA wine cooler, The Wing and many more. We #pinefor her commitment to minimizing waste in the kitchen while showcasing her worldly food education, bringing notes from LA and Japan to NYC.
- I was raised in Los Angeles, but my father worked most of my childhood in Japan, so food as I grew up was an interesting mix of California style focused on organic, seasonal, and fresh ingredients along with Japanese cuisine, especially sushi before it was widely accessible or popular. On top of that, I lived in Rome for a while in college and absolutely fell in love with Italian cooking, which reminded me of home. I draw most of my inspiration and inclinations from those three cultures.
- My kitchen style is eclectic, a mix of high and low, and filled with things I’ve brought home from my travels. I am somewhat of a hoarder of ceramics too… I’m constantly reimaging tablescapes and what I can mix and match together for place settings. What state it’s in absolutely depends on if I’m on the road or not. When I’m traveling my kitchen probably looks more like a bachelor lives here ~ an endless collection of different hot sauces, beer or champagne in the fridge, some dried pasta on the counter, and likely some collection of cheeses. When I’m in New York for a stretch, there’s nothing I love more than filling my kitchen with new sauces or condiments, picking up whatever is in season (ideally some things I’ve not cooked with yet) at the Union Square Farmer’s Market, and continuing to build upon my spice collection. I am a collector at heart, and I believe in investing in key kitchen equipment over time, pieces that should last a lifetime. I gather things for the kitchen through my travels and when I’m home in California (I buy kitchen towels pretty much anywhere I go), but I try to keep what I have streamlined and focused only on what I actually use. Similar to west~bourne’s zero waste philosophy, I aim to be environmentally conscious and work with everything I have, which means some unusual “kitchen sink” meals from time to time, using up every last inch.
markets & shopping
- I’m never not shopping for food and I’m at my best when there’s no agenda. I like to be free and embrace the excitement of discovery, and I particularly get a thrill from food shopping while traveling, having no clue what I will find. Getting new ingredients I’ve never cooked with before is inspiring and helps me think creatively out of the box. I’m a hunter always on the chase for something I haven’t seen before, whether that’s here in New York or elsewhere, and then the joy of seeing what I can create with it. I will pretty much try anything at least once (I’ve been an adventurous eater since I was a kid), and I live for the challenge of how to incorporate something surprising or uncommon. For me it also feels like the most natural way to connect to the fabric of a community, through what you can find in markets, stores, food stands, etc. All food tells a story, and then it’s our responsibility to add to that narrative by what we do with it in our own home. You can then pay it forward by sharing that with loved ones, surprising and delighting them with something new too. This year I came upon pink radicchio, which we now feature as a special addition to The Bounty at west~bourne. It feels indulgent and romantic, almost too pretty to eat, like peony petals which are my favorite flower.
White moustache sour cherry yogurt
Union Square Greenmarket Fruit ~ currently strawberries and rhubarb
Greenmarket eggs ~ I dream of having a chicken coup one day for fresh eggs on repeat
Ghee butter ~ definitely a new addition and there’s an elusive quality to it I’m still trying to get my arms around
Meyer lemons ~ pretty much put this in everything, especially water (I try hard but can’t bring myself to drink water plain)
Grady’s Cold Brew
Oatly milk barista blend
La Croix ~ pamplemousse and lemon flavors
Ramona wine coolers
Scribe ~ we have been members of their wine club for over a decade. I try hard to ration it during the months between deliveries… it’s just too good. The Pet-Nat released this year has been just magical.
Villa Manodori aceto balsamico from Eataly
White balsamic vinegar
Mother in Law Kimchi and Gochujang
Dark Horse fermented hot sauce – newly purchased from Cap Beauty
Parmesan and aged Manchego cheese ~ I usually also buy the small taster portions at Murray’s Cheese to try something new without having to commit too much
Cholulah and Louisiana hot sauce
Fresh herbs ~ I usually try to keep fresh mint, basil, parsley, and chives at all times
Jalapeno or habanero peppers
Gomaya San No Goma Dressing ~ I absolutely love Japanese markets, and this one picked up on a whim from our local spot Dainobu is now a condiment I can’t live without and put it on absolutely everything
Za'atar, sumac, pepper, sea salt, pink Himalayan salt
INNA jam ~ we use their products in a few dishes at west~bourne and sell them in our market… it’s just amazingly delicious California fruit, no additives or preservatives, made by wonderful and honest people
Anything made by La Boite (his custom spices are incredible) ~ I especially love the custom Desert Rose he created for us at west~bourne that’s in the Center Your Chia
Loisa Adobo spice - it’s totally addicting and just recently launched
Kokuho Rose California grown sushi rice
Simpson Imports San Marzano canned tomatoes and tomato paste
White and black sesame seeds ~ definitely go through almost a jar a week
Aritsugu vegetable butcher knife – my best friend from high school gave it to me as a gift while west~bourne was being developed while she was on her honeymoon in Kyoto, Japan
Staub grey la cocotte and cast iron pan ~ there’s nothing more comforting than one pot wonder recipes that you can make easily enough and that’s perfect for family style sharing; when I moved back to NYC from LA and had to give up my coveted charcoal grill, the cast iron is what I turn to most for that craving of something charred
Herriott Grace pitchers
Kitchen Aide mixer ~ this was one of our first wedding gifts, and I use it all the time. I’m a secret baker so it’s hugely helpful for dough, and I absolutely love using the extensions to make fresh pasta
Robert Siegel custom mugs ~ hand crafted in DTLA, he’s been gracious enough to make a lot of our custom ceramics for west~bourne, some of which you can purchase in our market too
Vintage Russel Wright American Modern cup and saucers
Butcher block cutting board
Zojirushi rice maker ~ it’s a real ritual and constant practice of making rice, working time and time again to perfect it
Noma Japan small plates ~ as a fifth wedding anniversary gift to my husband, I purchased us a set of four small plates that were auctioned off in 2015 when they finished their pop up in Tokyo at the Mandarin Oriental… an homage to two of our favorite food cities
- I went to the French Culinary Institute right after college to get some real technical training, something that was always on my bucket list because I loved cooking since I was young. I collect cookbooks from around the world. I’m a very tactile and visual person, so it’s like art to me, and I relish hearing about personal stories told through food. It’s impossible to pick a favorite… but the Zuni Café cookbook is an a classic for me, and I recently purchased Missy Robbins’ cookbook Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner… and Life! that has such vulnerability and comfort in it. The Momofuku original cookbook definitely was a groundbreaker for the genre, and I’m still working through the River Café anniversary cookbook of this year, it’s masterpiece. For friends who are just dipping their toe into cooking, I always buy them This is a Cookbook: Recipes for Real Life by Max and Eli Sussman, as I just love the mother~son dynamic and passing down of knowledge in the kitchen and particularly how they breakdown the basics in a simple, approachable way for beginners. The Power Vegetables and Gjelina cookbooks are also go-tos. However, I mostly refer to cookbooks here and there for general ideas or ways to think about a dish or ingredient differently. From there, I really just love to improvise, paint outside the lines. I rarely like to make the same dish twice too as my joy comes from the process and experimentation ~ jazz of cooking, just going with the flow and seeing what comes about. Always with a vinyl soundtrack to move along with.
To Sum it Up:
pantry item you can't live without: my olive oils and spices
One or two items that are always in your fridge: greenmarket eggs and Cholulah
your go to inspiration cookbook:
your most trusted kitchen tool: Aritsugu vegetable butcher knife custom made from Kyoto, Japan
5 adjectives that describe your pantry style: eclectic, spicy, global, small batch, California crafted
your all time favorite market: I studied abroad in college and lived in Rome during that time and I still dream about the morning markets and bodegas in and around Campo dei Fiori ~ that, and the spice market in Istanbul, Turkey.
Women you pine for: I feel deeply lucky to have a broad and inspiring tribe of women around me, in our industry and outside. I could write an anthology of novels in honor of the women I deeply admire and who are family, and it would still not be enough. Just to name a few … My mom, the fierce women of west~bourne, my TechTable co-founders, Danyelle Freeman and Olivia Young (Pound for Pound Consulting), Dana Cowin (Speaking Broadly), Joanne Wilson (Gotham Gal), Ellen Bennett (Hedley & Bennett), Ariel Pasternak (Pineapple Collaborative), Lauren Feldman (SurPointe), Su Wong Ruiz (Momofuku Ko), Kerry Diamond and Claudia Wu (Cherry Bombe), Emily and Melissa Elsen (Four + Twenty Blackbirds), Elise Kornack, Laura Wagstaff and Kristen Millar (The Nomad Hotel), Rana Lustyan (Edoughble), Becca Parrish (Becca PR), Emily Elyse Miller (Breakfast Club), Jordan Salcito (Ramona), Missy Robbins (Lilia), Janet Zuccarini (Felix), Robyn Sue Fisher (Smitten ice cream), Ali Cayne (Haven’s Kitchen), Elizabeth Tilton (w+p design), June Rodil (June’s All Day), Sue Chan and Sam Appel (Care of Chan) …
Women made food products you pine for: Grove 45 olive oil and INNA jam
Your favorite music to jam out to in the kitchen: old school hip hop