Exclusive: Athena Calderone Takes Us Behind the Scenes of Her New Cookbook

Gabrielle Savoie
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Courtesy of Athena Calderone

The visual nature of our modern lives has changed our everyday habits in more ways than one. For instance, preparing a meal—whether a weekday dinner or a holiday feast—is no longer a private affair. Each step, from preparing the vegetables to cooking and plating, has become a visual affair ready to be Instagrammed. This is something that Athena Calderone, home chef, entertaining expert, and founder of EyeSwoon, has understood all too well. In recent years, she built a cult following on the promise of delivering beautiful recipes that were just as delicious as they were visually pleasing.

Her latest venture is one we've been highly anticipating: the launch of her first cookbook, Cook Beautiful. "When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to share in this cookbook, I got one really amazing piece of advice: Why does someone need a cookbook from you? Why do we need another cookbook in the world? What is it that you have to say that nobody else has said before?" Calderone told MyDomaine. "I pondered on that for awhile—and I thought combining my sense of style with the food I cook is something that I had never necessarily seen done before."

Her new cookbook takes us on a visual food journey that awakens all senses and touches on every aspect of entertaining, from preparing fresh ingredients the right way to plating food beautifully. Just like her own experience of entertaining, the book is divided by seasons, including carefree summer backyard barbecues in addition to moody and cozy fall dinners—all using ingredients that can be purchased at the farmers market. "There's no reason to try to find something that is obviously out of season," she says. "If you can't find it at the farmers market, it means it isn't grown locally. I'm not saying that if you're absolutely craving artichokes in the winter not to make them, but they're not going to be fresh, and they're not going to taste as good. If you can't find it, it means you aren't supposed to be eating it during that time of year."

Take a deep dive into Calderone's culinary universe, including what she's learned as a home cook, how she got out of her comfort zone, how she creates beautiful and delicious original recipes, and how she built a cult following doing what she loves—recipes included.

And now, this is what it looks like when fashion girls throw a backyard dinner party.

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