Work isn’t work if you’re having fun, right? Well, that’s what we like to think at the Taste The Style office. Even though it can be tough to work in NYC because of the fierce competition, today’s Boss Babe overcame the obstacle by not only walking in some of the most coveted fashion shows in the world, but by creating her own stylish YouTube food channel. And we’re obsessed.
While Vanessa Lee’s OG career might have involved the fashion industry, she recently took an interest in home-cooked cuisine by creating her own food cooking channel. Before you roll your eyes at the thought of another food-centric series, this yum-tastic show is recorded from a whole new perspective. Lee is all about dinner parties (duh, who isn’t?), so instead of making the food herself, she goes to her friends’ houses (btw who just happened to be models), and films them making drool-worthy recipes. It’s fun, interactive, and totally addicting.
We had the pleasure of hanging out with Vanessa at Greecologies, where we talked about her YouTube channel, her fave fashion show, and where she hopes to see herself in the next five years. Meet the coolest model in the biz, Vanessa Lee.
On a flight from NY to London!
Ultimate childhood dish:
Fish and Chips!
Beauty product you can’t live without:
Food trend you’re sick of:
Fashion designer you could wear forever:
Alexander Wang or Sandro
NYC spot you’ve been dying to check out:
Rao’s, East Harlem
Chef you’re inspired by the most:
Not only are you a successful model, but you’ve created your own YouTube food channel. How did that idea come about?
Thanks! It all started when I came across a video from Casey Neistat and was so taken with his go-getter approach to life. I’m a sucker for a storyteller and I think his overall brand and identity resonates with what I aim to achieve. Thats when I decided to start making my own videos. I had no past experience or interest — just picked up my iPhone and went for it. At the same time, my friends and I were hosting dinner parties and gatherings for all our foodie friends and this naturally progressed into one-on-one cooking videos.
What would you say is your biggest influence when it comes to creating recipes?
So, the way my videos work is that I don’t create recipes at all. In fact, unlike most cooking shows where the host is a great chef I’m actually really bad! The whole concept is that my friends are teaching ME to cook not the other way around. So, each friend I visit essentially whips up a dish and I’ll go over and film the process.
You said on Instagram that you call your show a Casey Neistat meets Martha Stewart. Can you tell us exactly what you mean by that?
So, prior to making videos myself, I never watched Youtube/Netflix or streamed any kind of show and even now I just watch Casey Neistat and Game of Thrones. When I am creating content I try to apply his off-the-cuff and very “real” style of filming where there isn’t much gloss or feeling of it being a mass production. The Martha Stewart reference is because each show shares the same narrative of me going over to a friend’s apartment, going through the step-by-step of preparing and making the dish and then finishing it with us eating it.
Do your modeling and food worlds ever collide, aside from through the YouTube channel?
They actually work hand in hand so far, but that’s definitely because I work hard to balance the two and ensure they complement one another. I’m beginning to discover that publications I might have previously shot editorially for may now want to shoot/interview me as a video-maker, so it’s a really interesting combination.
While your YouTube food channel is getting some momentum, what are some of the biggest fears you’re currently facing and how are you trying to overcome them?
My schedule is pretty intense. When I only modeled, my schedule was sporadic and spontaneous, littered with jobs here and there and a lot of traveling. There isn’t anything as consistent and planning is not really an option. Now that I also make content and I post at least 1 video per week, I have to organize my free time to ensure I can meet up with friends and film them while also going to my own jobs. That’s a balancing act that has been exhilarating, but exhausting and I do worry that it’ll be hard to maintain if one of them gets particularly busy, for example, it’s not uncommon for me to wake up at 6am to get working on my editing/emails before going to a shoot at 9am and then rushing over to a friend’s apartment to film in the eve.
Your skin is flawless! Can you tell us your beauty regime secret?
Thanks! I’m not sure how true that is but I’ll take it! My best advice is to keep it super simple: don’t wear makeup unless you have to. When I’m not at a shoot/show or it’s a special occasion, I don’t wear makeup. Two things happen: 1) You appreciate the difference, so much more when it’s not so normal. People notice it much more and you feel better when you get the opportunity to get all done up. 2) The improvement in your skin will be so big.
If you can pick three people to be in your YouTube channel dinner party (dead or alive), who would they be?
Easy! Casey Neistat, Martha Stewart and Elon Musk.
What would you say was your favorite fashion show you’ve ever walked?
Vivienne Westwood. I walked for her twice and they were both highlights, both times that I felt genuinely proud to be a model.
Where do you hope to see yourself in the next five years?
I’ve learned that planning ahead doesn’t work so I try not to project too many goals into the distant future. That being said, I think it’s harmless to have big aspirations and work hard at achieving them. I think I’ll be working harder, having more fun and taking more risks.
Any advice for future boss babes, especially those looking to create their own content?
Find something you’ll have fun doing. People are often terrified to admit they want “a fun job” because it translates into something negative and unproductive. I think you need to have fun otherwise you probably won’t excel in it, I mean, who works hard at something that they don’t enjoy? So, my advice is to find something you will enjoy creating. Last week I booked my first holiday in 3 years and I couldn’t believe it had been that long! It made me realize that I enjoy my job enough that I have never felt the need to have a break from it and that tells me I’m doing the right thing. The second piece of advice is “disrupt”. Whatever you decide to do, make sure it’s a game changer. If it already exists or you can think of something similar that is already available then it’s not innovative. Content should disrupt the industry it resides in.
Photography via Vanessa Granda