gail

As a trained chef, Special Projects Director of Food & Wine Magazine, a judge on Top Chef (and Top Chef Masters and Top Chef Duels), host of the new show The Feed, overseer of the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, board member of City Harvest and Hot Bread Kitchen, published author (if you haven’t read Talking With My Mouth Full you should) – Gail Simmons has a lot on her plate.

Add to the roster: mom to five month-old Dahlia Rae. But don’t tell her that “it’s going to get better” because she already loves every minute of it: “It’s such a special, cozy, crazy, amazing time. Of course I am exhausted, but I don’t feel like I am trying to just get through to the next stage.”

The new mom leaves her Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, neighborhood – where they moved a week before she gave birth – for Boston soon to shoot season 12 of Top Chef with Dahlia Rae in tow.

We caught up with her (in between pumping and meetings) about the challenges of nursing and one of her most embarrassing moments (yes, it involves breastmilk).

What’s In A Name?

Dahlia is my favorite flower – it symbolizes sunshine and comes in so many amazing colors. It was our wedding flower and it was on our invitation. Rae is to honor my husband’s Aunt Rena, who passed away two years ago. She was so encouraging and supportive in our lives, and we love and miss her so much.

 Lifesaving Products

We opened the Fisher-Price bouncy chair when she was a month old, and we couldn’t believe we hadn’t opened it sooner. It allowed us to eat dinner, for me to pump and go to the bathroom when I was home alone with her. Once she hit three months, she graduated to the Mamaroo, which we call the hovercraft. She’s really into it now.

 Part Of The Club

On Top Chef, I was the only one who didn’t have kids, so they’ve been a wealth of knowledge and help. Michelle Bernstein made me realize it’s okay to be back at work and to lose the guilt associated with it because it’s the quality of the time you spend with your kids, not the quantity.

 Deep Thoughts From Gail

How will she sleep comfortably unswaddled? How can I leave the house without 14 bags? How do I pump when I’m running around all day? These are questions I don’t know the answers to.

 #Momfail

I was taping in front of a live studio audience and forgot to put nipple pads in my bra. They leaked right there. It was horrifying. You think you’re at least keeping it together on the outside. Of course I was wearing a beautiful silk dress. And in case you didn’t know, yes, milk stains. It was a low point.

Get In My Belly

After giving birth, you feel like you don’t know anything, including how to keep yourself fed. I have mastered the efficient grocery shop. Fresh Direct is tough for me because I like to physically walk the aisles and see my options. I went to Union Market and created a basic order with them. Sometimes I go and pick everything out and have them deliver it, others I just call and ask for my basics. I embrace anyone who delivers these days.

Flower Child

I love Honest diapers. Dahlia wears dahlias on her bottom – how cute is that?! Angela and Ethan Stowell [chef] gave me this amazing RoSK blanket that’s waterproof on one side, soft and fluffy on the other and it ties onto the stroller. It’s great for the park because you can put the waterproof side on the ground.

Neighborhood Nosh

We moved to Cobble Hill a week before I gave birth, so we’ve been getting to know the restaurants with baby in tow. We love Buttermilk Channel, Court Street Grocers, Nightingale 9, Red Gravy, Iris Cafe – they’re all so accommodating and kid-friendly. I spent a month in LA shooting and we frequented Cafe Gratitude, Alfred Coffee & Kitchen and lunch at Fred Segal.

Just Stop, Already

Everyone keeps saying, oh it’s going to get better, but we are actually loving the early days. She’s only four and a half months, and we are already reminiscing about things she “used to do”. It’s such a special, cozy, crazy, amazing time. Of course I am exhausted, but I don’t feel like I am trying to just get through to the next stage.

Give Yourself A Break

I think new moms feel out of control so they obsess about routine and schedules, but the truth is they are babies, and you have to give yourself a break. They are going to be fine if you can’t feed them every three hours to the minute. Babies are adaptable and every child is different – you can’t prescribe one schedule for all. It’s all going to be okay as long as they are fed, dry and loved.

First Foods

I hope to make Dahlia Rae’s food myself in the beginning. I can’t wait for her to try avocado, banana, mango, sweet potato, peaches, corn. There would be great irony if I spawned a very picky eater.

Three Hours Alone On A Saturday

Will that ever happen again? I’m getting a mani, pedi and a massage anywhere that will take me at a moment’s notice.

Mom Brain

Now I know why my mom sometimes can’t remember my name. Because she had three children. I barely know my own name some days, and I only have one. Sleep deprivation is rough.

 

Photo Credit: Melanie Dunea

SHOP: Gail’s Registry Must-Haves

Uppababy Vista

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Sleep Sheep

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Born Free Bottles

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On Our Radar, September 3, 2015

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Morgan Lane x Alison Lou
WHO: Moms in need of something that makes them feel witty and sexy – both around the house or under their regular clothes.
WHAT: Two cool-girl brands teamed up for a capsule collection of loungewear that pairs jewelry designer Alison Lou’s emoji-mania with Morgan Lane’s luxe-with-a-wink lingerie.
WHEN: Before you pull on those old, sad pjs one more time.
WHERE: morgan-lane.com

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Aromatherabee Books
WHO: Anyone who wants their little’s bedtime to go more smoothly (hi, everyone).
WHAT: The essential oils craze comes to story time with a scratch-and-sniff book that promotes rest and calm with naturally sedative aromatherapy.
WHEN: When you can’t take one more “But I’m not tiiired”
WHERE: aromatherabee.com

Lulu DK x The Land Of Nod
WHO: Parents who want nursery accessories stylish and elevated enough that they can work in any room of the house.
WHAT: Artist and interiors guru Lulu DK brings her magic to the playroom, with her signature color blocking and watercolor-inspired designs on crib sheets, baskets, rugs, and more.
WHEN: In time for hosting that next playdate.
WHERE: landofnod.com

Joseph Joseph’s M-Cuisine Line
WHO: Parents trying to get dinner on the table with as little kitchen time as possible.
WHAT: Joseph Joseph’s brand-new line of cookware… specifically for the microwave. Minimalist, elegant design that lets you poach an egg, cook (& drain!) pasta with the press of a button. Bonus points for the stackable piece that makes a 3-course meal in one shot.
WHEN: Before you eat hummus for dinner (again).
WHERE: josephjoseph.com

Cricket’s Circle IRL: Rachel’s Sip & See

Last month we gathered for what can best be summed up as Cricket’s Circle come to life: a Sip & See celebrating our founder Rachel and her second baby, Gemma. Not only did it channel the warmth, fun, and beauty we strive for on the site, but many of the guests – awesome moms with serious accomplishments – are CC profile alumnus (including the event’s gracious and charming hostess, One Kings Lane co-founder Ali Pincus). We had to share a few of the photos with you because it seemed fitting that it’s not a true CC moment without our readers. Plus, you’re going to want to steal a few of these high-impact, minimal-effort moves that made it so memorable. And speaking of wanting to steal…

Like mother, like daughter: Gemma is already killing it in the footwear department.

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THE SCENE

The Rooftop at the NoMad Hotel, a warmly elegant space with layered antique rugs and stunning city views – made all the more lush with plenty of flowers.

Copy this: Instead of dealing with floral arrangements, go to the flower market (or: Whole Foods EARLY) and choose the most enormous, stunning blooms, and put single stems in clusters of glass vases. How crazy-beautiful are these dinnerplate dahlias?

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The Guest List

Lto R: One Kings Lane co-founder Ali Pincus, Ivanka Trump Creative Director and blogger Marisa Kraxberger, Ivanka Trump, Compas’ Amanda Tarter, FEED Projects SVP Kim Nemser, co-founder Mini Mode Colleen Crivello, Instagram’s Director of Fashion Partnerships Eva Chen.

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The Meal

LOTS of coffee (hi, this is a working moms’ brunch), a tower of flaky, melt-in-your-mouth croissants (let’s split one! OK wait, no, let’s each have our own), savory quiche, and the biggest hit: A creamy avocado toast our team is still dreaming about.

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Copy This: The NoMad’s Chef Daniel Humm kindly shared his recipe that we’ve already recreated at home twice:

I took 3 avocados with about a ¼ cup of lime juice, added salt to taste, and pureed them in the blender until really smooth. You will need to cut the avocados up pretty small to get the puree started in the blender.

For the bread, I used Miche which is a rye bread. I took a good amount of olive oil and brushed both sides of the bread. The toast is at its best in a really hot oven – about 500 degrees with a high fan, if you have convection. After the bread is toasted, I smeared the Avocado puree on the bread and topped with fresh slices of avocado, fleur de sel, and cracked black pepper.

The Warm Fuzzies

Host Ali welcomed us all to the brunch and then revealed the day’s “activity”: We were all to answer one of three questions for baby Gemma on pale pink paper to be bound into a book.

Copy This: Grab some thick cardstock in your favorite color and a selection of pens so guests can create their own messages – it’s a perfect keepsake for mom and an easy and sweet way for guests to pass on well wishes and advice. PLUS: Prep each plate with an automatic thank-you (slash table decor) with a color-coordinated bag of sweets. Whether guests polish them off on the way home or ration them out as potty training treats for their own littles, it’s a perfect way to wrap up the event on a memorable and sweet (see what we did there?) note.

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All images by Belathée Photography

karen mordechai

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You know when you stumble upon a magazine spread or Instagram rabbit hole of a picturesque dinner party of perfectly dressed people having (what looks like) riveting conversation over farm-fresh food at a beautifully set table, and you start to feel really bad about your Saturday night of Chinese food and bad TV?

Karen Mordechai is responsible for those photos. But her aim isn’t to make you feel guilty: It’s to inspire you to get in the kitchen to cook and share meals. Her company, Sunday Suppers, started out as a series of beautiful, low-key dinner parties… and 5 years later has transformed into one of NYT’s top cookbooks and a second burgeoning business. Along the way, Karen has become a tastemaker endorsed by the likes of The Today Show, Martha Stewart, and Food & Wine.

Her aesthetic strips away the unnecessary – leaving simple beauty. One look at her Instagram handle, and you’ll understand why she has 233K followers and is considered as much a lifestyle expert as a cook and photographer.

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Perhaps unsurprisingly, her presence is as calming as her images. Talking to her is soothing – there is no chaos in her voice. But instead of being envious of how seamlessly she manages her businesses and home life, you think wait a minute, maybe I can make a beautiful dinner tonight too!

Meet the inspiring Karen Mordechai.

#Obsessed

Because of our new line ILĀ , I’m obsessed with ingredients — their quality, how they are sourced, and how to use them beautifully in the kitchen. I’m equally obsessed with my little girl and have been every step of the way. She is starting kindergarten this fall and I’m not sure how that’s possible. The time has flown by and I just want to keep her 4 3/4 and right by my side forever.

Stressing Over…

Launching a new business! We’re about a week or so into our Kickstarter for a product line that has been my dream for many years. And seeing it come to life is both amazing and intense. I think I had forgotten how much care and attention goes into a young business.

Dream Meal

We just got back from Italy, so I would say a Tuscan steak, burrata, tomatoes and fresh truffle pasta.

Go-To Family Dinner

Hands down fish tacos. They’re super easy and also great for when you have friends over.

In Her Fridge

My refrigerator, as expected, is always full. Think greens, broccoli, kale, a cooked pot of quinoa, roasted beets, and staples like avocados, mushrooms, goat cheese and olives for Sophia (they are her favorite).

Chef Dreams

I would love to cook a meal with Julia Child or Alice Waters.

Wakey, Wakey

In the morning, I go to Instagram and my email— usually in that order.

On The Old Balance Topic…

Like most moms, I really struggle with balance. I’m hard on myself about finding time for Sophia, my husband, work, and myself without having any category feel under-nourished. I over-do things as a general rule and should let some of that go, but you know, easier said than done.

Life Hack

I try to streamline food making, so I’ll make a big pot of grains on Sunday for the week, or roast beets, or a whole chicken. And then lunches and dinners are easier. I spend less time cooking and more time on assembly. I’m also a huge fan of lists. I make a grid in my notebook and separate all the categories – home, work, studio, personal, Sophia. It’s kind of like a reflection of all the things bouncing around my brain, but I can see them visually on paper— in distinct boxes— and somehow that makes it easier to manage.

Raising Kids In NYC

The best thing is that there is culture at every turn. And the early exposure to the realities of life – both good and bad. We recently had to explain homelessness to Sophia because a man on the subway got up and told his story and asked for help. I saw an empathy in her eyes and I thought that’s actually very cool – what an interesting perspective she must have at the age of 4.

Parenting Is HARD

The care and the nurturing part comes easy. The rest becomes a challenge – becoming the parent that you would admire, setting boundaries and being structured, but also creating an ease and fluidity. These things challenge me all the time.

Her Comfy Clothes

l like linen, loose, comfortable, and hopefully a little chic with a pair of cool kicks. My go-to brands are Madewell, Black Crane, Elizabeth Suzann, and Steven Alan.

How She Unwinds

I need some form of quiet time. I’m actually a very introverted person and the time alone recharges me: Having coffee outside at Marlow and Sons. Stealing time for a yoga class at Abhaya. Or getting a massage at Great Jones Spa. A weekend away with a girlfriend is also a must at least once a year.

#Momfail

I actually forgot to pick up Sophia from school! It was the early days, when she first started nursery school, and somehow I thought I was supposed to pick her up at 4 p.m. So I sat gingerly sipping a tea at a coffee shop and at 3:15 pm the phone rang. It was her teacher asking where we were, so of course I rushed over frantically.