Lily Sullivan


“Ideas are born around a dinner table,” says Athena Calderone, founder and content maven of famed lifestyle site EyeSwoon, whose first book Cook Beautiful launched last week. “Food becomes the common denominator around people you do and don’t know.”

With a background in interiors and a fresh sense of eloquence in the language of food and gatherings, Calderone’s marriage of good food and beautiful design is apropos. The book acts as Calderone’s addition to the canon of cooking after over half a decade discovering and perfecting her scope in cuisine and creative direction. Her relationship to food has been constant in her life, as she notes early memories of childhood gatherings and time spent cooking with relatives. However, for Calderone, the shift from simply following recipes to cooking as a true creative outlet came in the early years of her marriage through hosting parties for friends. “It wasn’t until I learned to cook with my intuition that I found the creativity and layering of flavors,” she explains. “Those are truly the first legs of me playing and riffing, learning to trust my gut and put my own stamp on food.”


As she began to approach the creation of her book, she recalls asking herself, “What do I do that other people don’t do? Why do we need another cookbook out there, especially from someone that’s not a restaurant or acclaimed chef?” She continues, “I started thinking about the importance of presentation. Our senses are everything. Everyone is so obsessed with taking photos of their food but no one is teaching the home cook how to elevate their dishes.” As contemporary cultural consumption relies so heavily on our sense of visual intake, Calderone’s approach speaks to our need of breaktaking, authentic content.

But Calderone makes clear that a sense of quality is never lost. “Taste is first and foremost, of course, but I always am thinking about color,” she says. “What is that last little moment that will complement the dish in flavor but also will make things pop? It’s always about the flavor—but there’s a duality [with design]. They work in tandem.” Elevated yet accessible, Cook Beautiful conquers the seasons across senses, carefully considering color and texture as we eat through the year.

Cook Beautiful is out now from Abrams. Pick up your copy here.


Lily Sullivan
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