If you’re heavily tapped into the NYC food space, particularly when it comes to aesthetics and styling, you’ve probably have already been introduced to today’s Boss Babe — and most certainly have stalked her glorious Instagram on more than one occasion.
Camille Becerra is far from your typical white apron chef. With over 15 years of culinary experience under her belt, Camille has made a respectable name for herself amongst the food elite due to her keen eye for food styling and meticulous attention to detail. But for those of you who are just getting to know the foxy chef, here are just some of her credentials: Former owner of Brooklyn’s Paloma, Top Chef Season 3 contestant, Food52 columnist, pop-up pro, mom, former chef to Japanese monks. She’s basically the food world’s Superwoman.
We caught up with Camille at Café Henrie, one of our favorite new cafés and her home until April, and chatted about who she’d want at her dream dinner party, guilty pleasures and next moves. Get to know the boss babe with impeccable taste, Camille Becerra.
Elizabeth, New Jersey
Lower East Side, NYC
Go-to comfort meal:
Rice, beans and fried sweet plantains
Song you can’t get out of your head?
You’re Not Good Enough by Blood Orange
Your coolest friend is in NYC. First place you send them to eat:
Flashy or simple recipes:
Paris in the spring.
Ultimate style muse:
I love all the styling of Maryam Nassir Zadeh
Can you tell us a little bit about how you got into the culinary world? Did anybody or anything influence you to go down that route?
It picked me, it enticed me one spring morning at a farmers market on a trip in North Carolina at the age of 19. Afterwards, I began reading cookbooks to help me learn to cook. My first book was Moosewood, the 1970s vegetarian bible.
You used to be a contestant on Top Chef. How do you feel that experience has shaped your work ethic and culinary skills?
It’s made me feel comfortable in front of a camera, it’s scary knowing there’s a million viewers on the other side watching you but you then slowly relax and do your thing. Soon after I realized I want to pursue cooking projects that reach a broader audience than just one in a restaurant.
What is your guilty pleasure when it’s pertaining to food?
Pepperoni Sicilian slice from Prince St Pizza.
When you are creating a whole new dish, what is the process like when it comes to mixing ingredients and flavors?
Color combinations inspire me, then after that the balance of flavors.
After recently leaving Navy, do you happen to have any future projects lined up that you can share with us?
I took over the kitchen at Cafe Henrie a sweet colorful arty cafe in my neighborhood for a residency. I’m doing dragon bowls and broth — it’s going really well. Initially we planned for it to be one month but we are going to extend it till the weather breaks. I’m also planning to do my first art-food installation for one night only there called Eat Cake.
As a single mother who hustles to make a name for herself, what do you feel is the biggest stigma when it comes to having work-life balance?
All in all, everyday has a very large element of focus on making sure I make time for all it demands.
You’re hosting your dream dinner party. Who would your top three guests be?
Carine Roitfeld, Alice Waters and The First Lady, Michelle Obama
What do you feel are the benefits of being a chef in NYC? Would you like to eventually open another restaurant?
I consider NYC one of the best cities in the world, everyone comes through here and I am able to meet very special people. My sights are very much set on opening my own place very very soon here in NYC, but Paris keeps calling.
With an Instagram presence of over 73K and photo styling skills underneath your belt, how do you feel the food and art world complement each other?
In some instances it’s great like the work of Jennifer Rubell. I personally would like to start working on food installations that explore the social elements of how food has sociocultural — social justice and environmental effects.
Fill in the blank: I put on ____ when I want to feel extra confident.
Rose hip oil from Stanley’s Pharmacy on my face.
Any advice for future Boss Babes? Especially those who are wanting to get into the culinary world?
Meditate each morning, focus on your art and have intent during service.
Photography by Vanessa Granda