• Natasha Pickowicz's Pantry •
You can find Natasha Pickowicz at the crack of dawn each morning, pastry cheffing at Flora Bar and Cafe Altro Paradiso where dough is a science and sticky buns are a currency. Dubbed the “Queen of the Crust”, Natasha pays special care and attention to everything she makes from cake to quiche. Delish pastry aside, we pine for Natasha because of the way she uses her sweet platform to make an impact on the world around her. This past year, she organized the bake sale of all bake sales (i.e. every rad baker in NYC supplied a treat) that raised over $16k for Planned Parenthood.
For being an “It” pastry chef, Natasha Pickowicz’s pantry is surprisingly missing the ingredients needed to make the desserts we all know and love her for. Yet her kitchen is chock-full of goodies all the same- we’re talkin’ obscure ingredients from her restaurants, womxn-made products and specialty food items collected from her journeys around NYC. Let’s step into Natasha’s kitchen, where Rod Stewart’s playing and cheese sandwiches, chips & snack platters are on heavy rotation.
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“By the time I get home after my long work day (I spend all day and night zig-zagging between the two restaurants where I work, Flora Bar and Cafe Altro Paradiso), I don’t want to fuss too much over dinner. I’m surrounded by people all day long, so it feels really good to be alone, fix myself something simple, and listen to music. My palate is often mega-fatigued after tasting sweets at work, so I crave crunchy, raw, salty, cheesy, vegetal, super-savory things. People ask me if I bake. I do NOT bake at home. I’ll make a cheese sandwich with sprouts and cucumbers and arugula; a bowl of pasta with wilted greens and lots of garlic and olive oil; chickpeas and barley marinating in vinegar and chili flakes. For breakfast, I’ll fry an egg and slide it on toast and top it with parsley. I’m the queen of the snack plate: I can make anything in my fridge look artful on a nice platter.
Utility, efficiency, and resourcefulness drive how I work in the kitchen. How can I make a lot out of a little? How can I create comfort from a routine? I see everything in my kitchen as a piece of a puzzle, and every meal is an interpretation of how those puzzle pieces fit together.
markets & shopping
My food purchasing is a truly all-over-the-place high-low mash-up. I sneak odds and ends from our restaurants — like experimental baking projects or samples from new purveyors — and play around with them at home. I buy everyday stuff from no-frills supermarkets and bodegas in Greenpoint. During the summer, I visit the farmer’s market at Union Square at least once a week and stock up on high quality fruits and vegetables. I love the McGolrick Park market in Greenpoint, too. And every few weeks I’ll stop by a speciality shop (I love Eastern District) for fancy cheese and expensive potato chips.
To Sum it Up:
pantry item she can't live without: Kosher salt, chips, cashews
items that are always in her fridge: Supermarket hummus, good butter, and half-finished half-carbonated kombucha
her go to inspiration cookbook: Lindsey Shere’s Chez Panisse Desserts
her most trusted kitchen tool: Serrated paring knife
5 adjectives that describe her pantry style: Predictable, almost-vegetarian, sparse, neat, caffeinated
her all time favorite market: Jean Talon Marche in Montreal
women made food products she pines for: Wines by Arianna Occhipinti; Fine & Rraw chocolates; Franca Tantillo of Berried Treasures farm; Nevia No of Bodhi Tree Farm; Robyn Shapiro of Seek flours; Atef Boulaabi of SOS Chefs
her favorite music to jam out to in the kitchen: Sonny Sharrock, Womack & Womack, Wayne Shorter, John Coltrane, Rod Stewart