Sara Elise of Bed Stuy Kitchen is a woman who makes an immediate impression. From the moment she walks in you notice her incredible beauty, her quiet and calm confidence, and her effortless personal style that she rocks from head to toe and from the inside out. She’s one of those women who immediately captures you, and from the second you meet her you think okay, I need to get to know this person.
For starters, she’s a lover of food and its power to make people feel good and bring them together, so like any true Boss Babe she transformed her passion into her career. While she’s not a formally trained chef, she’s a driven and bold woman who left her job in finance to open her own personal chef service and catering business, Bed Stuy Kitchen. Ever since she’s been cooking simple and satisfying food that’s good for the body and soul, and it’s time you got to know her.
So that’s what she does but like we said, Sara’s the sort of woman whose style and presence makes you want to know more. So we stopped by her cooking space in Crown Heights last week to dig a little deeper, and here’s what went down:
My mama’s vagina in Columbia, MD
If it’s early I usually make a smoothie with kale or spinach, raw almonds, coconut milk, whatever seasonal fruit we have in the house, chia seeds, flax seeds, cinnamon, etc. If I’m in the mood for something heartier I usually whip up some polenta and seasonal veggies and top with a poached egg and fresh herbs. I have that meal way too much.
What are you wearing today?
If you could have a superpower what would it be?
I already feel like I have superpowers. All witches have magical powers.
Ingredient that makes every savory dish better:
Garlic, paprika, and onion.
Food trend you can’t stand:
Gluten-free (when it isn’t a medical condition/allergy) and Paleo. I have a strong belief that eating habits should be balanced and with the exception of foods you’re allergic to should include ALL natural ingredients.
Dream destination to eat in:
I’d love to eat in Vietnam and Greece – two places I haven’t been yet. I also love Colombian and Mexican food though. I can go to those places and eat that food any day.
How do you unwind at the end of a long day?
Playing with my pups, playing with my fiancé, going out to dinner, walking around/laying in a park in Brooklyn, relaxing in our home. I live for those magical, calm, pure and easy happiness kind of moments.
Where did your love for food come from? Where did you learn to cook?
Food and I have had a lifelong relationship filled with love. My father definitely influenced my connection with all different types of food since he always tried to expose me to different foods, cultures, and styles of eating as I was growing up.
I learned to cook within the last 10 years- originally teaching myself cooking basics by reading books and watching videos as a means of self-care. As I started experimenting in the kitchen and trying new foods, I began to notice which foods felt best to my body, my mind, and gave me the most energy. I began cooking for my lovers and friends to spread this positive energy. I eventually decided to start hosting large dinner parties and brunches with the intention of allowing people to taste foods rich with love and positivity to experience the difference felt within their bodies.
How would you describe your style of food? Does it reflect your overall personal style?
With my food, I use all natural ingredients and assorted herbs and spices to elevate the natural flavors in each dish. My plates are down to earth, yet elegant, and all are made with love.
I would say that my personal style is very similar. I dress each day to fit my mood in a down to earth way without a lot of frills. The accessories I do wear (similar to the herbs and spices I use when cooking) are all meaningful, intentional, and used to elevate my current outfit.
You’ve got some pretty awesome tattoos. Wanna tell us about one?
The heart on my left arm is an homage to my soul spirit, Frida Kahlo. One of my community sisters, Jessie Levandov (an incredibly talented artist and also a Frida lover) designed the tattoo for me based off of Kahlo’s painting “Las Dos Fridas.” The image on my arm is of one of Frida’s hearts from the painting connected to my heart by an artery, symbolizing our lifeline and connection.
Why catering and personal chef services? What appeals to you about that aspect of cooking as opposed to, say, opening a restaurant?
For me, private event catering and personal chef services allow for a more personalized form of cooking. I am able to work with each client to customize a menu specific to them and their dietary restrictions and/or event needs. Since we do customize our menus for each client, we’re also able to experiment with new ingredients and dish ideas whenever we choose to as opposed to having the restrictions of being obligated to create the same dishes for the same menu every day.
What’s been the hardest part about starting your own business?
Overcoming self doubt. We are all taught to fear ourselves, to fear failure, to fear sadness, to fear experiencing life as our fullest, most beautiful selves. Overcoming my social constructions and doubtful & self-deprecating thoughts has been one of the most difficult obstacles in deciding to move forward with creating Bed Stuy Kitchen– and in moving forward with it, leaving my well-paying job and choosing instead to risk everything to believe in its success, and ultimately to believe in myself.
Who are some of the Boss Babes that inspire you most? What about them inspires you?
Amber Drew (a life coach working with people diagnosed with HIV and other chronic diseases), Sonic Art of Being (singer and jewelry designer), Sophia Urista (singer and performer), Jessie Levandov (artist and jewelry designer), Ally Giniger (making things happen at Wangechi Mutu studio), Adaku (creator of Beatbox Botanicals and community activist), Chloe Wayne (running things at MoMA), Courtney Willis (running things at Ryan Lee gallery), Olivia Seally (photographer), Alexis Casson (photographer and creator of The Peculiar Kind), VV Patchouli (leather bag designer), Essence “DJ Sherock” (DJ and yoga instructor), Nahvae Frost (chef and owner of Eleven Thirty Six, the beautiful kitchen space I get to play in), Ora Wise (my culinary partner who inspires me to be better every day), and Elisa/Mona/Lily of my StyleLikeU fam. I feel incredibly blessed to be rockin with a community filled with love and beautiful boss babes in all fields! Check out every one of them because they’re each doing extraordinary things.
What piece of advice would to give to other young female entrepreneurs?
Trust your intuition and do what feels right for you. Always speak up for yourself and voice your opinions- others will often silence you because you’re a woman, black, too young- whatever their reason is, others will always find one to silence you. Speak up anyway. Find strength in your voice and realize the beauty in your existence. Celebrate yourself every day.
Don’t be a martyr. No one is going to make sure you’re taking care of yourself and no one will celebrate you when you don’t take care of yourself to work harder, please someone else, etc.
Prioritize your self care.
Always believe that you will accomplish what you set out to do. Your belief in yourself creates a magnetic energy that ripples outward inviting others to support and believe in your vision and help further your progress.
What are you most looking forward to doing this summer?
Boogieing in the park with my friends on hot summer days, cooking for personal clients in Long Island, biking around BK with strong legs and browned skin, beach days with the squad, celebrating so many birthdays and showering those in my life with love.
Featured Image by Vanessa Granda